What is Self-Worth?

self-worth Jan 16, 2024

Dictionary: the sense of one's own value or worth as a person.


Self-worth is at the core of our very selves - it is valuing who you are, knowing you are worthy of belonging and that you are worthy of everything you desire.  Everyone is born worthy, worthiness is innate.  Unfortunately, most of us were not taught this!!!

Your level of self-worth will affect your mindset when it comes to: relationships, conflict, boundaries, money, how you view your emotions, your inner dialogue and your levels of worrying and anxiety… which in turn will all affect your physical health and mental health. Our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are connected to our levels of self-worth.  When we truly raise our level of self-worth we don’t dip below that level again.  We end up setting a new bar for ourselves.  (Learn more here about ‘3 Blocks to Creating Self-Worth’)


The chances are you’ve heard of many “self” words. Self-worth, self-esteem, self-compassion, self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-love and so on.  There are many words we can use to describe how we feel about ourselves, and how we act towards ourselves. Very quickly they can all begin to blend together, but they are very much different concepts with unique meanings.


Read my blog “Self-Worth 101” to learn more about the benefits of self-worth.

What is self-worth?

Self-worth fundamentally is dependent on our internal world.  When you have high self-worth, you truly believe that you deserve to be alive, to be loved and cared for. You know that you deserve to have your needs met by yourself and others.  You learn that you can take up space, and embrace all that you truly are and want to be, without comparing yourself to others.


Mistakenly, often our self-worth is tied to the external world. For example, the accomplishments that we have achieved throughout our childhood and adulthood. From a young age, we were taught that our school grades made us worthy.  Social media has taught us that to be worthy you must receive likes and followers.


There are many factors that we believe equate to our self-worth: our jobs, friendships, relationships, the way we look, our money status. As soon as we “fail” at any of these, we believe we are less worthy and experience low self-worth.  We need to start to believe that, regardless of these external factors, and when life doesn’t go as planned, we are still fully worthy.  Our worthiness does not depend on any external factors, it is cultivated from the inside.  When we do the work on ourselves to create a higher level of self-worth, we attract more of what we want and desire into our lives from a place of alignment.  (As opposed to trying to plan, fix, control the hell out of everything in order to get what we want.  It’s the difference between creating from a place of fear rather than a place of worth.)


What you accept in life, in relationships, in your job, in conflicts, in love, in your level of dreams, desires and aspirations… is all affected by your sense of self-worth.  Ultimately all our struggles can be linked back to a lack of self-worth.  When we have higher self-worth we are able to hold a more open perspective, shift our thinking, learn and grow from failure, create a sense of abundance instead of lack, attract incredible relationships, hold healthy boundaries, be respected by others, challenge ourselves, find more fulfilment and satisfaction and ultimately create more meaning in our lives.




What is the Law of Attraction?

Law of attraction is the belief that our thoughts, emotions and beliefs shape our reality. By harnessing an energetic approach through choosing what to focus on, we can attract the life we desire. The energy that we emit through these thoughts, will attract back similar energy, giving us the experiences we want.  If you think about it, it makes sense - how often have you thought about one small negative thing, and then this makes you think about many negative things, and then before you know it you have been imagining all sorts of disasters coming your way?!


Affirmations are your starting point. By repeatedly affirming your value and self-worth, you can gradually reshape the beliefs you have about yourself. “I am worthy of the love I truly desire.” (Examples of positive affirmations here.)



Visualisation is the power of seeing yourself in the way in which you desire: happy, confident, content. Your brain and body does not know the difference between what is real and what is imaginary.  So this can be an incredibly powerful practice.  You are effectively shifting your mental and physical state to a place you would like to be in more regularly - whether that’s joy, excitement, calm, ease…

Brené Brown talks about the fact that our worries constantly mean that we are “dress rehearsing” failure.  What if instead, we dress rehearsed success?  You can make this really specific.  For example, I had a client who wanted to ask in a job interview to have one month off a year to go travelling.  We created a visualisation where she pictured the interview and how she presented herself - confident, boundaried, calm, at ease… we focused on what she could control - how she showed up and the energy she was bringing to the interview.  We did not focus on what she couldn’t control - the outcome.  She ended up being given the job and the month off!


Gratitude journaling 

Gratitude is talked about over and over again, and its benefits are truly inspirational.  It focuses your mind on all that you have rather than all that is lacking.  Gratitude will rewire your brain so your perspective on life totally shifts.  As a result you will be showing up with an energy that attracts more of what you want.  If you are grateful you will likely be feeling joy, contentment, peace, ease etc and the more you feel this, the easier it is to return to that feeling.


Letting go of limiting beliefs

Letting go of limiting beliefs is essential in encouraging you to replace self-criticism with self-compassion and self-acceptance. Limiting beliefs are thoughts we think over and over again that tell us we are not enough.  They are developed in childhood when the word around us causes us to doubt ourselves or feel fear.  The main limiting beliefs are: fear of failure, fear of rejection & fear of not being enough. The first step is to start to get curious as to how your limiting beliefs might be playing a role in your life. (Read my blog on how letting go of expectations will help with your limiting beliefs here.)


“We gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face.” - Eleanor Roosevelt


The difference between Self-Worth, Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence 


I want to create some clarity between these three terms to make it easily digestible. Ultimately if you google this it can be very confusing!  So these are my interpretations of these three words form all my work and research.


Self-Worth is based on your internal sense of how worthy you feel of belonging, how worthy you feel of having what you desire, and how worthy you feel to have your needs be met. These desires could be community, love, happiness, to experience joy and finding peace - i.e all non-material things. 


Self-esteem and Self-confidence are very similar and they very much depend on your external world.  Such as your achievements in life, ie; you have a big group of friends or you have just gained a job promotion - these then will increase your sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. 


The interesting thing is, you can have high self-confidence/self-esteem and at the same time have low self-worth. By focusing on the external goals you can begin to cultivate an unhealthy energy - you push yourself to achieve and put a lot of pressure on yourself to show everyone how well you are doing, but on a deeper level, you still don’t feel enough.  It is therefore important to look at your self-worth and how you can improve this.  When you have a higher level of self-worth you will increase your resilience, you won’t get knocked down so easily, you won’t take things too personally, your relationships will thrive and you will be more in alignment with your true nature - fun, playful, at ease, compassionate and relaxed.




What is self-compassion?


Self-compassion is the practice of forgiving yourself for past mistakes, and moving forward by accepting all parts of yourself.  It is fundamental to developing a higher sense of self-worth.  It is being kind towards yourself. Showing yourself warmth and understanding when you fail, make mistakes or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring your pain and being highly self-critical. 


If a friend came to us with a problem, expressing negative thoughts and feeling bad about something that they may have done, automatically we would show them comfort in our words and support what they are going through. Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards ourselves as we would to those we love. Asking ourselves, how in this moment we can comfort and care for ourselves instead of blame and shame ourselves.  Ultimately blame and shame breed disconnection and inhibit our self-growth.


Client story:

A client of mine told me she met someone on a date - her gut instinct told her something was off about this guy, but the intrigue and excitement (and low self-worth) kept her wanting to continue. What followed was months of chasing and disappointment, leading to the lowest she had ever felt about her self.  What was interesting in her experience was how her level of self-confidence during this time was at an all time high. She was feeling good about how she looked, and seemed to be getting a lot of attention from men.  However, internally she was feeling sad, lost and depleted because she knew that she was not getting her needs and desires met in this relationship. Ultimately she was choosing someone through fear of not meeting someone else.  This is a great example of how your self-worth can be low and your self-confidence/self-esteem can be high at the same time. It wasn’t until she started doing the internal work after this experience that she realised the correlation.  She figured out why she was going for the same type of man, she figured out what her limiting beliefs were and she figured out how her childhood experiences had contributed to the situation.  She is now setting a new bar for the men she dates through her work on her own self-worth.


How do we increase our self-worth?

1. Forgiveness

We are hard on ourselves for past mistakes. All mistakes that we make in life are chances to expand and learn more about ourselves and what we want from life. By forgiving and honouring our past mistakes, we learn to accept what has happened, releasing us from the pain and allowing ourselves to move forward without the shame that surrounds these mistakes. It is our chance to reflect on past circumstances and forgive ourselves in a kind and honest way.

When we feel a level of shame from an action in our lives, the idea of being kind to ourselves through self-compassion, can feel undeserved and uncomfortable. It's important to become aware of this shame and create space between you and the thoughts you are thinking. Once the two are separated you begin to get curious and start asking questions as to why this emotion has occurred, becoming more caring and understanding towards yourself.  Can you ask yourself what actions would be helpful to move forwards, rather than ruminating and perpetuating the feelings of shame? Offering yourself constructive correction would be a great start.  For example:

  • How did my mistake make me feel?
  • Why do I think I felt like this?
  • What would encourage me to behave differently next time?
  • What can I learn from my mistake?
  • What is all of this teaching me?


2. Self-acceptance

Very often we think that there is something wrong with us and find it hard to accept ourselves fully. Our external world sadly brings forth a lot of these feelings of self-doubt and we begin to believe that we are less than what we are. If we don’t look a certain way, if we haven’t achieved the high salary or ‘perfect’ job, if we haven’t found a relationship by a certain age, then we think there must be something wrong with us. But we must learn to let go of these thoughts about where we “should” be and focus on how far we have come. When you focus on what you actually do have to be grateful for, over time you start to embrace all that you are and realise that you are worthy, exactly as you are at this moment in time.


3. Self-understanding

An important step is to learn who you are and what you want.  Imagine everything you currently have around you is taken away. Ie; possessions, relationships, friendships, money, job/career, accomplishments… And ask yourself:

  • What if everything I currently have was taken away from me? 
  • How would this make me feel?”  
  • What would I actually have that would be of value?

The idea is to start to value you yourself based on who you are, not what you have.  Do you know your core values?  Do you know your fundamental needs?  Are you working on fulfilling these?


4. Cheerlead yourself

Learning to speak to yourself in a kind way, the way you would speak to a friend is key. When you start thinking negatively about yourself, learn to pause in the moment, accept the thought you are having and change it.  Remember that thoughts are not facts!  The key is that slowly, over time, with work and patience, we develop a love for ourselves that allows us to be our own biggest cheerleaders.


5. Connect with loved ones

Often in moments of self-doubt we pull away from the ones that love us, but sadly isolating ourselves only makes the feelings worse. It is important to connect to those around us, that we trust, to lift ourselves out of the low times.  Being vulnerable inspires vulnerability.  Feeling connected and not alone is really important.  Having someone who has been through what you are going through is also really important.  Whether a friend or someone inspirational - have role models to help you realise that what you are going through is normal.


And finally…

  • Try not dwell on the past - meditation and mindfulness will help this.
  • Know you are equal to everyone around you.
  • Create boundaries, and learn when to say no.
  • Accept yourself for where you are right now.
  • You alone control how you feel about yourself, no one else.
  • Your true value comes from the inside, nothing external to you.

Self-worth is a bottom up approach - looking internally in order to bring things into our lives, rather than looking externally. Often we say to ourselves, “When I have the house, the car, the relationship and so on, then I will go for the job promotion.”’ We must learn to work from our inner space, to influence our outer world instead.


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Written By Sophie Dear


In 2015 I was signed off work due to insomnia and anxiety. I was incredibly stressed both physically & mentally and as a result I suffered from numerous health problems. I trained as a yoga teacher & began to heal myself through meditation & movement. However I soon burnt out for a second time 2 years into my teaching journey. Becoming a yoga teacher hadn’t magically transformed me - I realised I needed to do the deeper work!

Want to listen to my full story? Check out some of the podcast episodes I've been featured on.

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