Self-worth is one of those buzz words we stumble upon in inspirational speeches and magazine articles that prophesize “know your self-worth and the world will lay at your feet.” Knowing your worth is certainly something very positive and absolutely essential if you want to lead a stable, serene life. But how can you know what it is if you have never been taught?
Many of us feel that we are not good enough, either because we have never been told that we are or because we have never learned how to feel good enough. Our own sense of self-worth is conditioned by and dependent on the external factors. Hence, if we are good enough or not depends on what other people think about us. Which is terrible, because we will always be striving to please everyone but ourselves. We will not be living our lives in line with our true self.
The sense of self-worth is something we usually acquire in our primary family when we are growing up. If our parents, mothers especially, never showed us that we matter, that we are worthy of love, attention, devotion and protection, then it is difficult for us to believe in ourselves and in our own importance.
We don’t get a sense of self-worth simply by deciding that we are worthy. Yes, it is a necessary step in the process, but it doesn’t suffice by itself. Unfortunately, more than that is needed. Accepting it at a cognitive level doesn’t guarantee that we will fell it at an emotional level, where it matters the most.
What does it mean to know your self-worth? First of all, you need to feel it in your gut that you are good enough as a person, that you are worthy of love and respect. Self-worth is related to the essence of who you are. When you feel self-worth you know your value. You are not swayed by other people’s opinions. You don’t compromise at your expense. You know how to set boundaries and stick to them. You know who you are and what you want and what is acceptable to you. You don’t yield under pressure when your values and beliefs are put to the test, just to please others. When you know your self-worth, you don’t tolerate what is not acceptable to you.
Feeling worthy is not the same as being haughty, arrogant, conceited, condescending and the like. When you know your self-worth, such defensive behavior is no longer needed. You can insist on the “my way or the highway” on issues that matter most to you, and walk away with your head held up high regardless of what others think. You’re proud of yourself and know your own mind. You don’t question yourself and you don’t regret the decisions you have made. Once you achieve that, you’re practically invincible.