Transforming your self-worth can be a journey, that starts by embracing your unique positive qualities. Image courtesy of free clip art
Self-worth is our underlying belief about our value as a person, the opinion we have of ourselves. It is often interchangeably used with the term self-esteem.
Our self-worth is almost invariably moulded by the experiences that we’ve had in our lives, particularly our formative years. If we were praised or noticed for certain accomplishments, then we learned to feel good about ourselves because of those things. If we reinforced for looking a certain way, we gleaned this was important.
We were also shaped by seeing how people such as teachers and class mates responded to others we grew up with, like our siblings and class-mates. When were they praised? When did others respond to them positively? Thankfully some of our role models reinforced positive behaviours, like being helpful or including left-out classmates.
Were we punished or negatively reinforced, especially in childhood for not achieving good enough grades, even when we tried? Were we given a hard time for not making a sporting team? Were we teased because of our appearance?
It was and still is difficult not to be influenced by the massive impact of social media – for example what we should like, what car should we drive. Some television commercials, albeit painfully few, include realistic images of women. Most don't.
We may not be aware of it but on some level we are aware of the chasm between what we see and reality - the unattainability of it all. And on some level we may well be influenced by it.
We are like a blank slate at birth and parents, siblings, classmates, teachers, and then when we are older, employers and society dictates messages about what we should be and then responds to us as we try to measure up.
Some things in life we can change – we can try to be helpful, friendly, compassionate, Parents, teachers and society have a role to play by reinforcing these qualities of inner beauty as having the importance that they do.
We can not alter our appearance though god knows we try. We can not turn back the clock but how many people, particularly women, are chained and seemingly bolted to the need for hair dyes to hide the greys, make up to cover the wrinkles? Social media can play a role in re-writing the foundation of beauty as coming in all shapes, sizes, ages and produce a global transformation in changing how we see ourselves.
Those who are unemployed or have a disability can be encouraged to realise they have something important to offer by creating more job opportunities which utilises their unique competencies. Every one of us has individual talents and strengths.
So if you feel terrible about yourself or less beautiful than you are because of your looks what do you do? If you have pinned your self worth to being employed but know this is a long way off or might not happen, what do you do?
The first thing to is to become aware of where, for you, personally, did your self-image arise? If you flick through the pages of your life, what messages were given to you about what was important and what was undesirable? How did people respond to you in the course of your life when you behaved a certain way and how did it make you feel? How do you think you've been shaped by that today?
You are a worthwhile person who is unique, with your own individual strengths. It is important to shift the focus to what you can change – and to look for positive, internal qualities. How could you help somebody else with those strengths?
This kind of transformation from external, hard to change factors expounded by society to internal ones you know deep down make you unique can be a massive challenge.
You are worthwhile because of your individual positive qualities. However, we have all been moulded by external factors. Our parents and society as a whole were shaped themselves.
However, transformation from dissatisfaction with yourself to internalising a sense of intrinsic self worth can be anything but simple and I acknowledge that. But it is possible.
For some people, being aware of when they are trying to 'measure up' to something unattainable or that in actual fact does not matter can be enough to feel better about themselves. For others, long term therapy may even be necessary to explore the factors that moulded them and change may take time.
The bottom line is to remember you have unique internal strengths you can utilise to become the best version of yourself and make the world that much more beautiful.