The Idea of Self-Worth
How many of us put ourselves down, sometimes without thinking? It’s just habit. We’re either not smart enough, slim enough, pretty enough, or accomplished enough. We’re generally not enough of something.
Well, self-worth turns that on its head. It’s a feeling that, as the dictionary explains, “you are a good person who deserves to be treated with respect.” So, if you have a feeling of self-worth, you very much are enough of everything. But you see, that’s just it. Having self worth can be a surprisingly difficult quality to possess.
Self-worth isn’t quite like self esteem, even though the two are often used interchangeably. If you are held in great esteem you are judged to be of high regard, great respect or prized for your value. Thus, your self esteem is the esteem you place in yourself for doing something — some trade or profession, for instance. In contrast, self worth can be simply understood as the importance we place in ourselves. It’s more of a fundamental and core quality. And it’s very important.
What It’s Not
Many people understand their self worth as hinging on several qualities. For some, it’s all about their status in life or the material things they have accumulated such as a flashy car or the latest, fully-equipped SUV. Maybe it’s about having a top quality entertainment system in a big house done up with all the furnishings. But it’s not about that at all. What you drive, where you live, or what you do in the evening is not who you are.
For others, we tie our self worth to our career. That’s why some people would prefer a “white collar” job to a “blue collar” one. And if you happen to be a trades-person, some would automatically regard such a job below, say that of a lawyer or a doctor. Not so. What you do has no effect on your self-worth. For instance, we may have been trained as an engineer, but having moved to another country, the only job we can find is as a taxi driver. If so, this has no effect on your self worth. We are the same person we’ve always been.
What about everything we’ve accomplished? How many certificates, degrees or diplomas to you have on the walls in your home? It’s wonderful to be able say what we’ve accomplished. But in no way does it measure our self-worth as a person. Maybe we don’t have a single slip of paper to say we’ve completed any degree or diploma. Regardless, we may know a lot and so, in the end, it doesn’t matter. Because what you know is part of who you are. Not what you have decorating your walls.
How about our age? Too many of us attribute our self-worth to not only our age, but more specifically to our youth. Some of us choose clothing that hopefully won’t “date” us. And far too many of us find countless ways to change our appearance in order to look younger. But the reality is our self worth has nothing to do with our age. What matters is our commitment and dedication to whatever we choose to do regardless of our age. Because when you have a passion for something you’re doing, your age will soon disappear. A great violinist is a great violinist. We don’t care how old he or she happens to be.
Finally, a lot of us are lost if we don’t happen to be in a relationship. We feel that if we are with another person, it will make us feel valuable and worthy. And it may be so. Certainly it feels so invigorating to be showered with gifts or told how wonderful we are as a person. However, it is a mistake to tie our self-worth to what another person is doing or saying. What if it were to stop? The relationship may not last or the other person may pass away. Our feelings of self worth need to be born of how we feel about ourselves.
What It is
There are countless other qualities we use to define our self-worth—our finances, our health status, our relatives. The key to our self-worth is often in our self-awareness, our understanding traits, feelings, behaviours and our character. There was always an old saying you may know, “To thine own self be true.” What are our strengths and weaknesses? What are our favourite passions? Is it a hobby or perhaps it’s playing a musical instrument? And there’s no need to actually be the best at your favourite hobby of choice or playing that instrument. Maybe you love playing trivia games. You’re certainly not the greatest and most of the time you’re just laughing with everyone else. Again, it doesn’t matter. If you love doing it, that’s enough. It’s part of who you are.
The fact of the matter is our self-worth is ironically the simplest and easiest quality to uphold and hone. It is who we are when we strip away all of the stuff we build up around ourselves. It’s just us.