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Self-Worth versus Self-Esteem

We have all heard so much about the importance of having a good self-esteem, but as a therapist, I beg to differ.

What?!  A therapist who does not believe in having good self- esteem?!  Before you navigate away from this article, hear me out.  I believe that having a healthy self-concept is extremely important – and I’ll explain how I am defining and differentiating between self-esteem versus self-worth.

The working definition of self-esteem is as follows: a confidence and satisfaction with oneself, thinking highly of oneself.  Interestingly the dictionary (Merriam Webster online) also lists synonyms and antonyms for “self-esteem”.  The antonyms are: humbleness, humility, modesty.  Two of the synonyms are listed as:  ego and pride.

On the other hand the working definition of self-worth is as follows:  valuing oneself, respecting the fact that you were created with intrinsic value while respecting the intrinsic value of others as well.

In my view, we are to value ourselves while maintaining humbleness.  Self-worth takes into account the value of others as well as that of ourselves, while the way I am using self-esteem here refers to lifting ourselves up above others which feeds our ego and is not a truly healthy self-concept.

Now that I have defined the way I am differentiating between self-esteem and self-worth, I would like to give you 5 practical tips to build your self worth so that you can value yourself while also valuing others.

1.   Know This and Own This:  Intrinsic value comes from the fact that you were “fearfully and wonderfully made” by your Creator (Ps. 139:14).  I believe that God exists outside of time and space (God created time and space) and therefore knew you and designed you before you were even born.  It is a challenging mystery to wrap our minds around, but the more we study the Scriptures, the more we know just how much God loves us and how we came to this earth with unique plans and purposes seeded inside of us.

2.  Discover and Recognize:  actively set out to discover your unique personality traits, skills, gifts, talents, weaknesses and passions/interests.  The more you become acquainted with your unique self, the more you will come to see that there is only one you.  No one else has the exact same combination of these things.  You’ll begin to recognize that you were created to participate in, to support, and to enrich humankind in your own unique way.

3.  Nourish and Build:  nurture your mindset and your beliefs by feeding your mind positive, uplifting thoughts.  Turn away from negative, self-critical and other-critical thoughts.  When we criticize ourselves and others, we are “feeding the wrong dog”.  (The Cherokee story about which dog you feed is the one who grows).  Read information that builds you up, listen to music that enriches and uplifts you, fill your eyes with beautiful colors, shapes, and textures and read other Scriptures about how God has a love-story to tell you (God is in love with you because you are, after all, the Creator’s masterpiece).

4.  Act.  You’ve considered your uniqueness and your value, you discovered and recognized your unique traits, you’ve nourished and built proper mindsets and beliefs, now you must act on it.  To know that you are valuable is one thing, to start acting upon it is another.  One way to start acting on your personal value is to put your unique gifts to use – help others, enrich the world, build up other people so they can also know their own value.

5.  Keep Returning:  to truth.  Don’t let marketing and advertising lead you back down the path of thinking you must look a certain way, smell a certain way or hang out with certain people to be accepted.  Accept yourself unconditionally, faults, foibles, and ALL!  Look out your eyes at all the other people around you and find the preciousness in them as well.  The more you keep reminding yourself of your worth and others’ worth – the more you will strengthen your self-concept.

Having an excellent self-concept helps you serve humankind with confidence, respect, humility and love.  Let your light SHINE!


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