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How to Reclaim Your Self-Worth

Your self-worth is your sense of worth or value as a person. And for many people, it’s a struggle to see their worth. So, if you struggle with low self-worth or low self-esteem, keep reading and find out more about how to reclaim your self-worth and start feeling good about yourself!

Why do you feel unworthy?

So many of us feel unworthy. We feel like we’re not good enough, like we don’t fit in, and like we don’t matter. We’re overly self-critical, fixating on our flaws and failures. We think we need to be perfect and successful in order to have value.

For years we’ve believed the lies others have told us – that we’re unworthy. We get these messages everywhere – from critical parents, well-meaning teachers, our friends, and the media. We repeatedly hear that we have to earn our worth, that only the special, select few can be worthy. Well, that’s bullsh*t. We don’t have to prove or earn our self-worth. We’re all inherently worthy. We all have value.

5 ways we compromise our self-worth

  • Perfectionism. We feel unworthy if we’re imperfect.

  • Overworking. We work to excess in order to feel valued and received tangible proof of our worthiness (praise, financial compensation, awards, degrees, etc).

  • Busyness. We overschedule and keep ourselves busy as a way to feel important and needed.

  • Comparison. We look to others to measure our value. We compare ourselves to others and feel inferior.

  • People-pleasing. We prioritize other people’s opinions above our own. We compromise our values and needs to please others and we feel “less than” when others are angry or disappointed with us.

Unfortunately, un-doing the messages that we’ve accepted for years and used to form our identity is a tough job. It takes practice to retrain our thinking patterns and a strong will to stand up to our cultural values of perfectionism, overworking, and busyness.

Let go of perfectionism, overworking, busyness, comparison, and people-pleasing

Are you constantly looking for external validation — someone to tell you “good job”, reward your hard work with a promotion or accolade in order to feel worthy?

This is the trap so many of us have fallen into. We don’t acknowledge our own worth, so we’re always seeking someone who will acknowledge it. This leaves us always having to prove ourselves. We have to constantly be doing more, performing better, looking perfect, working harder.

We become too busy to take a vacation, eat dinner with our families, or even get adequate sleep! It’s like you’re on a hamster wheel, constantly having to perfect and produce and please in order to feel worthy.

When you base your worth on external validation and achievements, you can’t just stop seeking it; if you do, you’ll end up feeling worthless, unneeded, and unlovable. This is why perfectionism, working excessively, and busyness can never fill the internal sense of being enough. We have to fill it ourselves by believing we’re worthy and validating ourselves.

Perfectionism Quiz

Don’t let others determine your worth

We let other people determine our worth when we use perfectionism, overworking, and busyness to determine our worth.

Instead, you can develop a mindset of inherent self-worth. Your mindset is important because it informs how you feel and how you behave. You can gradually change your thinking about self-worth using a mantra like the one I’ve written below.

And at the same time, you can start to behave like someone who feels worthy regardless of how much they achieve or what anyone else thinks.

Take a moment and think about what knowing your worth looks like. Think of specific actions that someone who feels worthy might take (especially things that are different than your current behavior). Perhaps she’d allow herself to rest when she’s tired or decline an invitation to a get-together that she doesn’t really want to attend. Or he might leave work unfinished and not worry about what his coworkers will think or go hiking all day Saturday without checking his phone.

Your ideas might look different and that’s just fine. You get to decide! Once you’ve got a clear picture of what inherent self-worth looks like, choose a small step that you can take towards making that your reality.

As you begin to do things differently, reinforce them with self-talk that reminds you that self-worth doesn’t have to be earned. You can choose to get off this hamster wheel and claim your worth by refusing to let others determine how you feel about yourself.

5 Ways We Compromise our Self Worth

A mantra to reclaim your self-worth

I don’t have to earn my worth.
I don’t have to do more, earn more, or be more. I am worthy just as I am right now.
Perfecting, practicing, and pretending to be who others want me to be isn’t the path to self-worth.
I am already worthy – regardless of what anyone else thinks.

Self-worth isn’t something I have to earn. All I have to do is accept it. Own it. Live it.
I can slow down, relax, and enjoy who I am and what I have.
When I live as though I have to earn my worth, I’ll never be enough. There will always be more I can do.

When I live as though other people’s opinions matter more than my own, I’ll never be enough. They can always criticize or reject me.
Chasing self-worth is an exhausting and miserable way to live.

I don’t have to rely on others to tell me I’m good enough.
Instead, I choose to reclaim my self-worth.
I choose to stop telling myself, “I’m not enough. ” or “I’ll be worthy when I  ________ (lose weight, get married, graduate from college, earn more money, etc.).

My self-worth doesn’t depend on being liked or being perfect. I can choose to accept myself and live knowing I’m just as worthy as everyone else. We’re all different, of course, but there doesn’t have to be any judgment or comparison.
Today I will reclaim my self-worth by ________________________________.

©2018 Sharon Martin, LCSW. All rights reserved.

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The Self-Love Digital Journal

The Self-Love Guided Journal

I created the Self-Love Guided Journal to help you rediscover who you are, accept yourself – imperfections and all, and learn to treat yourself with kindness. It includes reflective questions, journal prompts, inspirational quotes, and a healing meditation to help you develop positive thoughts and feelings about yourself. Find out more by clicking HERE.

This site is for informational purposes only. It provides general information and is not intended to nor should it be used to diagnose or treat any mental health or medical issues or advise you on your particular issues, questions, or decisions. You are solely responsible for how you use the information provided on this website and the consequences of your actions.

Sharon Martin, DSW, LCSW is a psychotherapist and author specializing in codependency recovery. For the past 25 years, she’s been helping people-pleasers, perfectionists, and adult children overcome self-doubt and shame, embrace their imperfections, and set boundaries. Dr. Martin writes the popular blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today and is the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and The Better Boundaries Workbook.

3 thoughts on “How to Reclaim Your Self-Worth”

  1. Thanks you so much for sending me these email. they’re truely inspiring myself to develop myself psychologically and spiritually. i then pass on the information to my clients . thanks again

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