It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself- Abraham Lincoln.
Low self-worth? Argh. How to increase your self-worth? argh, it makes me want to roll my eyes when I think about this topic. Because honestly, do we need SOMETHING else to get “right?” Aren’t our lives filled to the brim with stuff we need to “fix?”
Yes, sis, I am right there with you. In my ideal world, we stay as the amazing, lovable and meant to be here people we came in as! We don’t need anyone’s approval and we cry loud when we need something. We remain the full-of-life canvas we exploded into this realm as. Low self-worth is not in our vocabulary in this ideal world.
But, that is the ideal. We, unfortunately, come in and as soon as we show agency, the people around us begin to write the script we will hold onto for most of our lives. The ones who are meant to keep us safe forget about this part of the job.
So, we make up stories to survive. We assign meanings to other people’s actions and how they relate to us. And run ourselves tired, twisting and turning to again be seen as the bundle of joy who could do no wrong. Nothing works, Boo!
This is why this post exists. A post to help you figure out what self-worth is. The difference between self-worth and self-confidence. How to recognize if you have low self-worth. And how to increase it and live the life you signed up for. The short answer: Forget the world and do you, Boo. Butttt we are a little more nuanced than that.
Let us begin
Simply, self-worth is what you truly believe about yourself. It is not something you can find outside of you.
Self-worth is a core belief that you belong here. And if you never did anything in this life, you are still worthy.
It’s understanding, deeply, that you are more than your roles, your body, your mind and your net worth. You know yourself beyond what meets the eye.
When you have healthy self-worth you have the courage to live an authentic life.
This looks like not being too bothered by how people see you. You have the confidence to make mistakes, learn from them and move on without berating yourself.
You know how to stand up for yourself, and understand that some days are better than others, and this is okay.
And yes, not so simple. “What do mean I am not my body or mind when that is all I have ever been defined as?” Or “That if I never do a damn thing I am still worthy, how does that even work in the real world?”
The truth is, it first needs to work in your world.
Book yourself a holiday and chill, get R250 off when you book before or on April 24th 2022- Don’t ever say I don’t share nice things.
I will tell you for free, I found out the hard way! Growing up, I walked on eggshells because I lived with a grandmother who would erupt at any given moment.
For some reason, the story my little me made up to keep me safe, was that I had to excel at all I did. In my head, if I did everything perfectly, I could help avoid all the fighting in the house.
And naturally, I gave them a show! I worked so hard at school. I got the grades that made my peers want to puke but validated my teachers and their efforts.
I was the girl who asked for feedback four days into a project due in three weeks, yes, puke!
This girl was a regular on the ‘Top Ten’ list in the grade. My achievements meant the teachers loved me and would call on me for all things they deemed needed a sensible person.
I was finally receiving the attention I deserved. Still not at home though, but hey, a girl took what she could get, okay?
The problem: I had anchored my self-worth on my ability to perform. Not just perform for myself but for other people. External validation was my drug of choice, thanks!
When I moved to high school, things start to get shaky. Those grades I made the centre of my being, yep, those starting slipping. No matter how hard I worked- without asking for help of course- they were done with me.
By the time I entered University low self-worth was my middle name. I felt like a fraud because WOAH where had the smart girl gone?
If the idea that someone will figure out you are not all that you are “cracked up” to be terrifies you, you may have low self-worth. I lived there, I was possibly the landlord!
Below are other indicators that you may need to check where you are in the self-worth department:
I know you read the list above and thought, “This is not all me, I stand up for myself and I do hard things.” And yes I get that because I am the same. The list above is also not intensive by a long shot, just an aside. To go back to the objection, this is where self-worth and self-confidence differ. The difference is subtle but the feeling is HUGE. Healthy self-worth is a deep knowledge of your value as a human being. Self-confidence, as explained in the Brave Counseling and Psychiatry Self-esteem, Self-worth & Self-love article:
” Self-Worth is the recognition that you are a valuable human being who is worthy of love. Self-Confidence, on the other hand, is the degree to which you trust in yourself and your ability to deal with challenges, solve problems, and engage successfully with the world.“
Even though I often stood up for myself or did hard things, I did not always move from a place of healthy self-worth. And I knew this based on how I would feel during or after the situation. For example, seven years ago the Fees Must Fall movement erupted all over social media, this coincided with my 10th-year high school reunion. I verbalized or typed on Facebook about the loud silence from my fellow former schoolmates, people I am supposed to catch up with within a few weeks or months, I can’t remember. Instead of seeking clarity, or adding to the conversation in a way that would find a solution, they opted to defend and attack. And we all know how messy and eye-roll-inducing a social media spat can be.
I attended a school where I was one of only eight other Black girls in our grade, and I believe our grade had the most number of Black girls at the time. My struggles with these girls were never the same, okay?
But we grow up and move into the world and I guess I expected more, joke’s on me. These girls and I left school all those years ago on good terms, and so I was not looking for a fight or bad vibes.
Anyway, it ended with me boycotting my reunion, not that that meant anything to them.
This story is to illustrate the difference between self-worth and self-confidence.
My self-worth here was crying out to be seen and validated by those who walked the school corridors with me and they didn’t. I was questioning if I even mattered.
My self-confidence to weather this and stand up for myself and those who feel the way I do was sky-high. I trusted my ability to stand in the storm but I did not feel worthy doing it. Make sense?
You are going to have to do some things. Yes, I know up there somewhere I spoke about being worthy even if you never do anything in this life. Yes, that is still true. But you don’t believe that or me, so you are going to have to do some things. Think of your self-worth as a muscle, in order to grow muscle you need to put it through some exercise! And there isn’t a whole lot that’s fun about that, not initially anyway.
Below is a downloadable Evening check-in questions to help you track where you are on a daily basis.
Remember, Rome was not built in a day, and your self-worth is more valuable, so take your time.
You made it to the end because we are all about healing, sis! Well done. This journey is not a one-size-fits-all but rather bits and pieces we incorporate along the way.
I am sure you picked up a piece from here? Yes? Now share with someone else who needs a piece to add to their whole. We need each other if you are going to make it to the other side, wherever the other side is.
One final note, most people don’t have it figured out either, so just do you, Boo!
As always, I wish you all the healing you deserve,