What is self-worth? According to the dictionary, it’s a “sense of one’s own value or worth as a person”. But there are many ways to value yourself. True and healthy self-worth comes from within, accepting all parts of yourself, loving yourself in its entire form, and feeling complete just as you are.
Self-worth versus self-esteem
There’s a difference between self-worth and self-esteem. Self-esteem is more directed outward, it’s more about what you do. You measure yourself based on your actions and capabilities. As we live in a highly competitive world, most of us are pretty high achievers, trying to be recognized, and loved, for what we create.
A healthy sense of self-worth and self-esteem comes from accepting ourselves as we are and coming to terms with who we really are. It’s not about our capabilities, skills, or achievements. It’s about appreciating who we are with all of our flaws, faults, weaknesses, and fetishes. In all its complete weirdness.
Here are 4 ways to boost your self-worth and feel good about who you truly are.
1. Realize everyone is an idiot, just like you
“The way to greater confidence isn’t to reassure ourselves of our own dignity, it’s to grow at peace with the inevitable nature of our ridiculousness. We are idiots (…), and that’s okay.”
This next little video by The School of Life offers a very interesting insight into our brain.
Often, we think we’re the only ones who feel like this. We feel alone in our insecurity, our fears, our worries. We see other people and we think they have it all figured out. They seem confident. They seem confident. But most of them are not. It’s just an act. We’re all just award-winning actors on this stage called life.
When I was 17, my dad died. At that age especially, you feel like you’re the only one going through hell like that. But I remember something funny; what I did as I was riding my bike to school or sitting in the tram, was imagining all the stuff that was going on in other people’s lives. Every person I saw passing by, had their own story. Had their own shit to go through.
That kinda helped.
Know that you are not alone. Everybody else is as f*cked up as you are. 🙂
2. Silence your critical inner voice
We all have a “critical inner voice”, internal dialogue or “itty bitty shitty committee” as my beautiful friend Amanda Battle puts it. It’s like a hostile voice in our heads, which constantly bothers us with destructive thoughts and judgments towards ourselves and others. It usually comes from our childhood experiences (e.g. when our parents or our teacher got angry with us), and it undermines our sense of self-worth all the time.
It can even lead to anxiety and depression.
That’s why it’s essential to realize those thoughts are not who you are. You can interrupt this constant chatter in several ways (therapist, self-help programs, etc.), but a very easy method to do this, is by bringing your attention to the here and now by focusing on your breath.
Here’s a little exercise for you.
- Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Make sure your spine is upright and supporting its own weight when you’re sitting. You can also sit on a chair.
- Feel how your body connects to the floor.
- Become aware of the rising and falling of your upper body on the rhythm of your breath. Now, start your inhalations from the belly up. Let your belly expand as you inhale, and sink back as you exhale.
- Stay with this physical sensation of your breath. Don’t alter your breath, just accept how you breathe right now. Keep your eyes closed so you can focus more on what’s going on inside your body.
- Try to become aware of the thoughts you have. Just ask yourself: what is the next thought I’m going to have? And then see the thought and let it pass. Every time you notice you’re drifting away on a thought, you gently bring your awareness back to your breath.
Over time, you will find that you can look at your thoughts much clearer, without being swept away by them, including by that ‘itty bitty shitty committee’.
3. Practice Self-Compassion
Another way to silence your destructive ‘monkey mind’ chatter is to practice self-compassion.
Watch the words you use. We tend to use a very hostile vocabulary when we think of ourselves. Just imagine you would speak to another person the way you speak to yourself. Don’t you think that person would be completely outraged or hurt? Why would you do that to them? Why would you do that to yourself? So, every time you notice a hostile thought, try to replace your words with only one word: love.
Author and health lecturer Caroline Myss gave a great TED talk about this. She also says, “Just choose to get up every day and bless your day. Not because you achieved something, or because of the way you feel, but simply because you’re alive”.
“Don’t base your gratitude of your life on what you have or how you feel. But, just because you are. Just because you ARE. Say to yourself, this day in my life will never come again. I will never see the people I am looking at again this way, just this way. Nothing in my life, like this, will ever come again. That alone should take out of your heart every bitter taste there is. It should shape the life around you with such grace and such beauty, that it makes you see the present only with great gratitude and love.”
4. Know that you are both the same as everybody and completely unique at the same time
There’s nobody quite like you, but that goes for everybody. Be yourself, be you! The rest of us are already taken. 😉