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?