Where is your self-worth?

Recently I had an interesting discussion with my friend on how people value themselves in society. We agreed there are many factors to consider, all of which impact greatly on the way in which we perceive ourselves.  Society tells us what is acceptable, what is beautiful, what is successful. We are fed this via television programmes (particularly reality shows which I have a major dislike to), radio, social media platforms, newspapers, magazines and so on.

If we are not careful, we can get sucked into the belief that if we do not fall into a particular category – you know, being able to tick off the checklist which “the world” has set, then we are of little value. Our self-worth should not be based on our beauty, salary, ranking in the workplace, weight, connections but unfortunately it often is. People tend to look on the outside in order to identify whether they feel someone is to be accepted.

Other attributes such as a kind heart, humility, generosity, emotional intelligence and integrity are often overlooked yet these are the very characteristics which make up a person. Many well known figures possess these characteristics and they impact greatly in the world, they put changes into place so we can live as we do.

In secondary school I remember we had regular “own clothes” days – I am sure there is a more appropriate term but I cannot recall it right now.  I would feel anxious as the day approached because I knew my peers would give everyone the once over and decide whether you passed or not. A few girls in the years above would stand by the front gates as you entered and say “yes” or “no” to your outfit. It was humiliating and down right wrong but they did so because they could. I can picture the smiling faces of my peers who were given the heads up and the sad faces of my peers who were laughed at for wearing clothes that were clearly not approved of. One “own clothes” day I absconded from school as my mum was unable to buy me a new outfit and I felt the selection of clothes I had in my wardrobe were not good enough. I was 14/15 and I was pulled into the notion that appearance was everything.

So how can we improve on our self-worth? How can we grow to believe we in fact are of value and have a lot to offer despite what society feeds us?

1. Redefine success. It is far more than money and possessions. Think about your relationships – are they fruitful and positive? Do you invest in others as this is how you leave your mark.

2. Stop comparing right now! Comparison is the thief of joy because you will either feel superior to those who have less or inferior to those who have more. Neither are a good place to be. Take your eyes off of others and focus on what you would like to do. By all means strive for more but do not compete with others.

3. Look at your positive characteristics. What do others say about you? Write them down.

Do you have a good self-worth? What has contributed to this?
Was it ingrained in you from a young age or did you develop it over time?
How would you encourage a friend/acquaintance who struggled with low self-worth?


16 thoughts on “Where is your self-worth?”

  1. This a valuable post and one that should be shared in schools, colleges, Universities and workplaces. I have seen too many people wasting their lives living up to society’s expectations instead of identifying their self worth. Thanks for its insight.


    1. Thank you Bola. I would very much like to go into schools and colleges to speak to young people. I have spoken at church youth events on bullying, peer pressure etc. Youth is the crucial stage of life where they try to identify who they are, where they belong.


  2. This is one of the best posts (according to me) I have read in your blog till date. The reason why I liked the piece so much is due to the fact that I could relate to everything what you discussed here.
    I am really against society’s biased regulations of ‘perfect human being’ and feel that inner attributes should be given more preference than the outer ones.
    Thank you for writing this and supporting the idea. You gave me a reason to smile today.


  3. Hi Phoenicia,
    I am inspired by your post.
    A Jewish Rabi who lived so many years ago said, “the life of man does not depend on the abundance of things he has.” The truth is reverse is the case in our time, we judge people outwardly and based on what they have and have not in terms of achievement and material possessions. By social conditioning majority of us go on to measure our worth based on this stardard forgetting we are all unique and have different life experiences.
    To maintain a healthy self-esteem, we must accept that who we are is not measure of what we have. We are who we are first before we acquire any other things.
    We must accept ourselves for who we are, and make improvement where necessary, but desist from unhealthy comparison.
    And lastly, we must consistently remind ourselves that we are unique, and make efforts to celebrate our originality.
    Thanks for Sharing.


  4. I would so like to punch girls who belittle other girls (and women who do so), but since I’m not the violent sort, I won’t. As a small, redheaded, freckled kid I spent a lot of time being humiliated on multiple levels–oh yeah and I had a gap between my two front teeth. There were harrowing days, to be sure. But somewhere the lessons my parents tried to teach us kids got through and I realized that what mattered the most was what the people who loved me thought of me. And hey–they loved me, so that was already great news.


    1. Full of positivity as per usual Rosemary! Knowing you are loved by those who matter can help you to rise above the harsh words of others. My husband and his siblings have front gapped teeth!


  5. Beautifully said Phoenicia! I’m good in the self-worth department, but it wasn’t always that way. Like you, I had a rough go of things during my school years but thankfully was able to rise above the doubts once I was on my own. Thanks for the wise advice and inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Self-worth can feel like a moving target. Just when you think you have a good sense of it, something changes, it could be a new job, a new birthday or a few pounds. I think when you go through the changes often enough, you start to realize that your self-worth has to come from within and be connected to your personal values, not transitory external issues and certainly not from pop-culture.


  7. This is a bit like discourse analysis. How we value ourselves is determined by the figured worlds we live our lives in. Maybe your background has the most important impact. In my case it plays a role and I hence apply upper middle class/establisment figured worlds to determine my self worth. Those standards are high but still makes
    me score very high because I have accomplished more than the majority of people in those figured worlds/discourses.


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