It sounds simple, but it’s kind of a loaded question. Even those who seem most “successful” can have a hard time answering. The problem is that when it comes to self-value, it’s easy for most of us to feel we don’t deserve more, that we aren’t worthy, or that we simply have less value than those around us. So how do you recognize your true value and work to build it up?
What is self-value?
First, let’s talk about what “self-value” means. The definition of self-value is the subjective sense each person has of their own worth as a human being. This term is often wrapped up with similar phrases, such as self-esteem or self-appreciation. But at a basic level, “self-value” is a valuation of who you are and how strongly you feel you deserve love, happiness, and good things.
How do we estimate our own value?
When we estimate value, we tend to do it in one of two ways. First, we may estimate value through external comparisons, meaning that we look outside ourselves to measure our worth against other people. This isn’t a healthy way to measure our value: most of the time, we end up focusing on others rather than on what we have to offer in our own right. In addition, our comparisons can often be unrealistic, especially given that each of us carries our own efforts, skills, and strengths, all of which should be valued on their own.
On the other hand, internal measurements are a much better way to assess our own worth. This happens when we value ourselves based on our own intrinsic worth. This way, our abilities, our accomplishments, and our contributions are valued in their own right. This option helps us become more compassionate toward ourselves, accepting our uniqueness and acknowledging our inherent worth.
How can you build your self-value?
Self-appreciation is a skill, and if you find that you struggle to value yourself for who you truly are, it’s possible to build your abilities over time. This will look different for everyone in the long term, but at a fundamental level, there are a few ways to get started.
First, work on being more mindful. You wouldn’t be reading this now if you didn’t recognize there’s something about yourself you’d like to change, but it’s important to make a conscious effort to keep this in mind on a daily basis. If you want to become more mindful, you’ll need to be more aware of your internal perspectives, especially any self-talk that occurs as you go about your day. Most of us have a voice that criticizes our behaviors, nags us about our failings, or engages in other self-destructive behavior. When any of these things happen, take a step back and stand up for yourself! Change your internal story by taking note of your positive qualities, and retrain your thoughts by reciting positive affirmations throughout your day.
Second, make an effort to stop comparing yourself to others. This is easier said than done, and it can take time to develop your ability to ignore opportunities for external comparisons. When you find yourself falling into this trap, it often helps to practice putting your thoughts into a more realistic perspective: just because people appear happy on social media doesn’t mean they’re truly happy, and there’s no point in comparing yourself to a feigned and heavily curated version of someone else.
Third, create healthier habits. Studies show that the same habits that help keep us mentally healthy and active can also help us improve our self-confidence. Regular self-care and exercise are correlated with higher self-esteem, as are good nutrition and sufficient sleep. Along the same lines, volunteering makes it easier for us to recognize our own value, as it allows us to share our skills in a tangible way. Try bringing healthier habits into your life, and you might find that your perspectives on your own worth will begin to rise on their own.
Understanding the best way to look at your self-worth can help in the long run, but it can also be challenging to reverse a mindset you’ve had for a long time. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you struggle. You are worth it, and you deserve good things—so work on believing that you have contributions inside you the world needs.