Self-Worth: What It Is & How You Can Build It

Looking to boost your self-worth? You’re in the right place. In a world where achievements and social media often define our worth, understanding true self-worth is key.

This journey is about more than just feeling good. It’s about how you interact with the world and how it sees you. We’ll cover everything: what self-worth really is, how it’s different from self-esteem and self-love, and why it matters in your life.

You’ll learn ways to improve your self-worth, what a healthy level looks like, and how it shapes your relationships and social skills. Ready to dive in? Let’s get started.

What is Self-Worth


Self-worth is that deep, unshakable belief that you’re not just important but also deserving of love, attention, and belonging.

It’s knowing in your heart that you matter, exactly as you are. This isn’t about your achievements or what others think of you; it’s about feeling inherently valuable and worthy.

  • It’s Personal: Your self-worth comes from within. It’s that inner voice that tells you, “I am valuable,” even when things don’t go as planned.

  • Staying Grounded: When you accept your worth, life feels more stable. You’re calmer, more centered, and ready to take on challenges.

  • Life Changes: Knowing your worth changes everything. You share your talents more freely, enjoy life’s moments, and face the world with a positive spirit.

Embracing your self-worth is a journey of acknowledging your inherent right to love, respect, and social inclusion. It’s about valuing yourself deeply and unconditionally.

Difference between Self-Worth, Self Esteem, and Self Love

Self-Worth vs. Self Esteem

Think of self-esteem like a thermometer, constantly going up and down based on what you achieve and how others see you. It’s tied to your successes and the roles you play.

Now, self-worth is different. It’s like the sun, always there, steady and unchanging, no matter what storms come and go. It doesn’t depend on what you do or don’t do.

Relying only on self-esteem can be tricky. It’s like being on a seesaw, feeling good when things go right and down when they don’t.

Related: 20 ways to build self-esteem.

But self-worth? That’s your solid ground.

It gives you the strength to face tough times without losing sight of who you are.

Self-worth is about knowing your value deep down, not just when you’re doing well. It’s the confidence that stays with you, making you resilient and sure, no matter what life throws your way.

Self-Worth vs. Self Love

Now, let’s talk about self-love. If self-worth is knowing your value, self-love is how you treat yourself based on that knowledge. It’s like giving yourself a high-five, taking care of your needs, and being your own cheerleader.

Self-love grows from self-worth. When you truly understand your own worth, caring for yourself becomes second nature. It’s like planting a seed of worthiness and watching it bloom into self-love.

Where to start?

Begin with self-worth. It’s the root of how you see and value yourself. When you really grasp your own worth, stepping into self-love becomes easier and more natural.

Focus on building that strong sense of self-worth first. Then, let it lead you into loving yourself in all the right ways. It’s a journey from knowing your worth to showing it through self-love. Let’s take that first step together.

Why You May Have Low Self-Worth

Self Doubt Low Self Worth

Ever wondered why sometimes you might feel like you’re not enough? Or have you always struggled with self-wroth? It often starts early. Maybe you felt left out at school, or you didn’t quite fit the mold of what everyone said was “cool” or “beautiful.”‘

For some people, lack of self-worth comes from childhood bullying or harsh criticism.

These moments, especially when you’re young, can leave a mark on how you see your worth.

If early on, people have made you feel inferior to others, or showed you no love or no respect, then you develop a deep seated belief that you may not deserve as much as love as everyone else.

Then there’s this chase for perfection. Trying to be perfect, to meet every expectation, can be like running in a hamster wheel — exhausting and never-ending. When you miss the mark, it hits hard, which reinforces your doubts and worries about your value.

And think about this — if you’re always measuring your worth by what you achieve, like grades or likes on social media, your sense of self-worth becomes fragile.

It’s like building a house on sand; the slightest setback can make it all feel like it’s crumbling down.

The real journey? It’s about looking inside, not outside. It’s learning to let go of this chase for perfection, to be kind to yourself, to accept who you are. That’s how you build a strong, unshakeable sense of self-worth. Let’s start walking down that road together.

How Much Self-Worth Should You Have?

Have you ever asked yourself, “How much self-worth is enough?” It’s a common question, but the answer is simpler than you might think.

Identifying a Healthy Level of Self-Worth

True self-worth isn’t about comparing or competing. It’s knowing deep down that you’re valuable, just as you are. It’s seeing your worth without needing constant approval or achievements to back it up.

This balance is key. It’s about seeing your strengths and your flaws and accepting them all. When your sense of worth isn’t shaken by others’ opinions, that’s when you know it’s healthy and real.

Characteristics of a Worthy Person

Healthy Self Worth

If you’d like to know your self-worth, start by comparing yourself with the attitude of someone who believes they’re worthy.

  • Facing Failures: Imagine failing but still learning from it, not letting it define you. That’s resilience, a sign of healthy self-worth.

  • Setting Boundaries: Can you say no when needed? It’s about respecting your own needs as much as you respect others’.

  • Being Kind to Yourself: It means treating yourself gently, especially when you mess up. Remember, being human is about being perfectly imperfect.

  • Positive Self-Talk: It’s like being your own best friend, encouraging and believing in yourself, even when it’s tough.

  • Open to Growing: Ever aimed for a goal, not because you felt lacking, but just to see how far you could go? That’s growth stemming from self-worth.

This is a healthy level of self-worth that you can strive to reach. But it takes time, you can get there step by step. Don’t expect perfection from yourself, the same way you wouldn’t expect it from a good friend.

Examples of Healthy Self-Worth

  1. Work-Life Balance: You’re more than your job. Finding joy in work and outside it shows you understand your worth isn’t just your career.

  2. Healthy Relationships: Being with people who respect and value you, and walking away from those who don’t, shows you know your worth.

  3. Pursuing Personal Goals: Chasing dreams that resonate with your true self, not just for applause, is self-worth in action.

Knowing your self-worth is like having a compass for life. It guides you to live authentically, embrace your true self, and walk through life with confidence and high self esteem.

Benefits of Having a Healthy Level of Self-Worth

Let’s now talk about how a healthy level can truly benefit you. By developing a healthy sense of self-worth, you benefit in many ways. Here are some examples:

  • Grit: You embrace challenges with persistence, knowing your self-worth isn’t defined by success or failure.

  • Courage: You face potential setbacks head-on without the need for external excuses.

  • Taking Responsibility: You own your actions and outcomes, leading to more consistent performance and personal development.

  • Resilience: You keep moving forward despite difficulties, reflecting your true value and strength.

In fact, a study found that people with good self-worth are less likely to feel embarrassed if they fail at something they try. This means that valuing yourself allows you to take on more risks.

Imagine the freedom in that – the freedom to try, fail, and try again, all because you know your worth isn’t on the line. That’s the power of valuing yourself.

How to Build or Improve Your Self-Worth

Build Self Worth Step By Step

Building self-worth isn’t just a concept; it’s a practice. It’s about small, daily steps that lead to big changes. Let’s break down these steps:

1. Starting from Within: Internal Foundations of Self-Worth

Your journey to self-worth starts right here, within yourself. It’s about getting to know and accept who you truly are.

  • Self-Reflection: Take a moment each day for some quiet reflection. Ask yourself, “How do I really see myself?” This isn’t about being overly critical; it’s about understanding where you’re at right now. It’s the first step towards recognizing your self-worth.

  • Discover What You Love About Yourself: What are those things that make you, well, you? Maybe it’s your sense of humor, your way of thinking, or how you care for others. Recognize these unique qualities. They’re what make you special and valuable.

  • Reflect on Universal Worthiness: Remember, every person, including you, deserves a chance. Deserves love, consideration, and respect. It’s a universal truth. When you start seeing yourself in this light, you begin to understand your inherent worth. It’s not about what you achieve; it’s about who you are at your core. This will feel like a sort of self esteem that’s unconditional.

Embracing these thoughts daily can transform how you view yourself. It’s a process, a gentle unfolding of self-discovery and acceptance. Start today, and step by step, you’ll build a foundation of self-worth that no one can shake.

2. Detaching Worth from Accomplishments

Now, let’s talk about untangling your sense of worth from your list of achievements. It’s easy to get caught up in what you’ve done, but your true value? It’s much more than that.

  • Celebrate Who You Are: You are valuable, with or without your achievements. It’s important to celebrate your intrinsic value – those qualities that define you beyond what you’ve accomplished. Maybe it’s your compassion, your resilience, or your creativity. These qualities are worth celebrating, regardless of external achievements.

  • Your Worth Is Not a Scorecard: Life isn’t about tallying up successes or failures. Your worth isn’t measured by external validation or accolades. It’s about who you are at your core. Remember, a trophy or title doesn’t define you. Your worth remains constant, even in the absence of external success.

Free yourself from measuring your worth against your achievements. Recognize your value as a human being, who deserves love and respect just because… you exist!

Ironically, this allows you to achieve bigger and better things.

How? Well, when you know that failures, big and small, don’t crush your spirit, when you allow yourself to fail once in a while, you’re ready to take on more challenges.

If you try and fail, you don’t beat yourself over it. You will still love yourself, understand what happened, learn the lessons, and get going again.

3. Practices for Self-Acceptance and Understanding

Emotional Awareness

This step is crucial for nurturing your relationship with yourself.

Develop Emotional Awareness with ‘How We Feel’: It’s vital to be in tune with your emotions. Neglected feelings can lead to unnecessary self-criticism.

I recommend using tools like the How We Feel app. This app helps you track your emotions throughout the day. By recognizing what you’re feeling, you can understand the root cause. Maybe it’s just a small incident that upset you, not a reflection of your whole day or your worth.

Set Personal Boundaries: Establishing boundaries is a form of self-care. What are you comfortable with? What’s non-negotiable for you? Define these limits in your interactions and relationships.

It’s not about being rigid; it’s about respecting your own needs and values. For instance, if you value your personal time, it’s okay to say no to last-minute plans.

Remember, when you set boundaries you make it clear to yourself and others that you value your well-being.

Only people with low self esteem or self worth let others walk all over them. Politely and firmly refuse to let others trample over your boundaries.

4. Exercise: Challenge Negative Beliefs & Thoughts, like “I don’t deserve others’ attention”

Exercise Crush Negative Beliefs

Tackling negative beliefs is a critical step in building your self-worth. Here’s an exercise I often share with my coaching clients and readers:

  1. Write Down Negative Beliefs: Start by capturing these thoughts as they come. It could be “I don’t deserve to be loved” or “I’m not good enough.” Write them down. Seeing them on paper can sometimes take away some of their power.

  2. Find Contradictory Evidence: Look back at your past and identify moments that contradict these beliefs. Maybe there was a time when someone showed you love and appreciation. Use these instances as evidence that your negative beliefs aren’t always true.

  3. Remember Your Supporters: Think about the people who value and think highly of you. They are your ‘witnesses’ against these negative beliefs. Their perspective can help you see that these thoughts don’t define your true worth.

  4. Consult an Expert Witness: That’s where I, Paul Sanders, come in. As a social skills and friendship coach, I often act as an ‘expert witness’ for my clients. Ask yourself, “Would Paul Sanders think I’m not worthy of love?” Of course, my answer would be a resounding “No!” You are absolutely worthy of love and respect.

  5. Create Future Memories: Visualization is a powerful tool. Imagine yourself in the future, surrounded by people who believe in your worth. Envision positive interactions and meaningful connections. This practice helps to reinforce a positive belief in yourself and your worthiness of love.

You can use this exercise with as many self doubts or negative beliefs.

The secret power of this exercise? It’s in the writing.

When you write down your negative beliefs, you take them outside of you, they become something you can think about and play with on paper and in your mind.

If you don’t write them down, they hover around you like a cloud, and you feel almost no power over them.

5. Embracing Self-Compassion and Self Love

Self-compassion is key in your journey of self-worth. It’s about being as kind to yourself as you would be to a friend.

  • Forgive Yourself: When you stumble or face tough times, be gentle with yourself. Ask, “Would I judge a friend as harshly in this situation?” Probably not. Remember, no one’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes – it’s part of life. Think of those who might have chosen the wrong partner or missed out on opportunities. They moved on, and so can you.
  • Positive Self-Talk: Your words have power. Start your day with affirmations. Say things like, “I am worthy,” or “I am capable.” If affirmations aren’t your style, try meditations focused on self-love. It’s about reinforcing the belief that you’re valuable and deserving of love and respect.

6. Build Self-Respect One Day at a Time

Building self-respect is a daily practice. It’s about setting up and living by your own standards.

  • Define Your Personal Rules and Boundaries: What’s important to you? What are your limits? Be clear about these and stick to them. It could be as simple as deciding not to check work emails during family time or saying no to tasks that don’t align with your values.
  • Surround Yourself with Positivity: The company you keep can lift you up. Spend time with people who believe in you and your worth. If your current social circle doesn’t support the ‘new you,’ it’s time to meet new people who will.
  • Learn and Grow: Developing new skills or picking up hobbies can greatly boost how you see yourself. It’s not just about being good at something; it’s about the growth and joy that come from learning.

7. Learn about Self-Worth

Self Worth Resources

Finally, a great thing you can do is take on self-worth as a learning opportunity. Get curious about it. Research it for a bit. Who know? Maybe you’ll end up helping others raise their self-worth: maybe friends, family, or maybe a child.

You can start with these resources that I personally tried and can vouch for:

Podcasts: Most podcasts confuse self worth with self esteem or self love or self respect or self-confidence, etc…

However, there’s one that stands out: Unconditionally Worthy by Dr. Adia Wooden. Her approach is insightful and focused specifically on self-worth.

Additionally, her own definition of self-worth is crystal clear: No confusion with other concepts. When you listen to her personal stories, you easily find lessons that apply to you as well.

I recommend you start with her earlier episodes, like this one:

Book: For a deeper dive, I recommend Self-Worth Essentials by Dr. Liisa Kyle. It’s a workbook that offers practical exercises and insights, making it a hands-on guide to understanding and boosting your self-worth.

Documentary: The Call to Courage (2019) is a Netflix documentary that features the renowned researcher and author, Brené Brown, discussing the courage to be vulnerable and how it brings you joy and self-worth.

The Way You Value Yourself Impacts Your Social Skills

Two Women Conversing

Your sense of self-worth not only acts as a social buffer in various situations but also enhances how people perceive and interact with you. Here’s how it plays out in real life:

  • At Networking Events: You spill a drink but laugh it off confidently. Others join in, seeing your reaction as a charming quirk rather than a clumsy mistake. Your self-assured attitude turns a potential blunder into a likable moment.

  • In Group Conversations: Even if you fumble your words, your confidence in your worth lets you handle it with a smile. The group picks up on your ease and responds with understanding.

  • In Social Gatherings: A not-so-funny joke or an awkward moment doesn’t diminish your appeal. Your strong sense of self-worth keeps you authentic and confident, making you more attractive and approachable.

  • During Work Presentations: A slip-up in a fact doesn’t rattle you. Colleagues respect your ability to correct and move on gracefully, admiring your poise and professionalism.

  • In Casual Social Interactions: Forgetting a name isn’t the end of the world. You ask again, turning it into a moment of connection. People are drawn to your relaxed confidence, making them more forgiving.

  • Handling Rejections and Setbacks: Your resilience in the face of rejections, like a declined invitation, showcases your self-assurance. This resilience often makes people want to interact with you more, as they sense your solid self-worth.

In every scenario, a healthy sense of self-worth diminishes the impact of social mishaps and enhances how others perceive you. It’s not about flawless social skills; it’s about the confidence and grace with which you handle every interaction.

This self-worth effectively boosts your social skills, making you more magnetic and resilient in social settings.

Self-Worth in Friendship & Other Relationships

Three Friends Walking

When it comes to friendships and relationships, your self-worth plays a huge role. Let me break it down for you:

Imagine you’re wearing a sign that says, “I believe in my worth.”

From my experience, people will just accept the version of yourself you present. If you show that you value yourself, they’re likely to respect and value you too. This is especially the case when you meet new people.

On the flip side, if your sign reads, “I doubt my worth,” unfortunately, people might accept that as well.

Now, let’s talk about dealing with negativity.

When someone tries to put you down, and you’re grounded in your self-worth, it stings less. Sure, you might be sad about the friendship suffering, but it doesn’t shake your confidence. You become unshakable.

That’s the power of self-worth.

Here’s another thing: fear of rejection.

When you have solid self-worth, you fear rejection less. What does this mean for you? You’re more likely to connect with high-quality people.

You’ll be more open to making new friends, expanding your social circles. It’s a game-changer.

And when loneliness knocks on your door, self-worth gives you the courage to reach out to others. You don’t sit around thinking they’ll ignore you.

And just because you try, you make it more likely that you’ll connect with someone and make that lonely feeling fade away.

Transform Your Self-Worth into a Vibrant Social Reality

Social Circle Of Friends

Embracing your self-worth is a powerful first step, but imagine turning that into a living, breathing reality. Imagine a social circle where your sense of worth is not just an internal belief, but a vivid experience.

This is about taking the concept of self-worth and making it tangible in every interaction, every friendship, every moment of your social life.

Now, think about this: a life filled with friends who value and appreciate you for who you truly are. Picture engaging conversations, shared laughter, and genuine connections.

This isn’t just a dream; it’s a reality you can create. Building a new social circle means surrounding yourself with people who reinforce your worth, where you are respected, heard, and cared for.

In my eBook, “Get The Friends You Want,” I guide you on how to establish such a social circle. It’s about moving beyond the theory of self-worth and stepping into a world where you live it every day.

You’ll learn how to meet the right people, how to nurture these connections into deep friendships, and how to create an environment where your self-worth flourishes.

Ready to build a social life that reflects your true worth? Check out my eBook and start crafting your new reality today. It’s more than just making friends; it’s about creating a life where your self-worth is celebrated every day.

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