Truth be told, I am a bit confused about how many people think there’s a correlation between self-worth and net worth. Maybe that's an American thing, and I didn't grow up here so I never came across the idea before moving to the US.
I guess you can derive a sense of self-worth from your accomplishments, which may have translated directly into revenues. If that’s the case for you, good for you! But for many of us it’s probably not the case, and I would argue that it shouldn’t be to begin with.
So, what is self-worth all about then?
It’s about how we feel about ourselves and our values—and I would argue money is a tool, not a value. It might help us live our values if we have it, but self-worth definitely doesn’t depend on your bank account or the car you drive. And the bummer is that when your self-worth is low, having or achieving materialistic riches won’t do sh*t for how you feel about yourself.
But here’s the good news: Self-worth—as the word says—is about your-self, so contrary to your bank balance, it’s entirely in your hands to build it, increase it, enjoy it. Like most things, that’s easier said than done, but there are a few simple things you can do to invest in yourself and start building your self-worth credit right away:
Set your own course
This is your life, and it absolutely doesn’t matter what others think you should do with it. Just take a moment to think this through: Are you setting your own pace? Are you headed toward a goal you want to achieve? It may change tomorrow and that’s okay. But today, are you taking the steps you want to take—or are you dancing to someone else’s tune? Yes, we all have circumstances to our lives that we just have to deal with, sure. But when we are brutally honest with ourselves, these are fewer than we claim. If we manage to drop the excuses and swap “I can’t” to “I won’t” or “I don’t want to”, you have taken a huge step to owning your life as it is right now. And that’s an excellent starting point.
We all strive for our own version of perfection and though we somehow know that perfect is not obtainable (for anybody!), we continue to look for our ideal of it and that’s tiresome. There will always be plenty of people you know—or see on social media—who are taller, skinnier, richer, smarter, prettier or funnier than we are. It doesn’t matter because seriously, there are other people who look at you that way. But the constant comparing puts us in an endless downward spiral that can only result in one thing: to make us all miserable. Knowing that, let’s not go there. When you catch yourself comparing, give yourself a little reminder: No matter what you see, nobody’s life is perfect and everybody has their struggles.
The best thing about dropping out of the comparison game is that you can start giving freely. Not money, necessarily, though of course that’s one possibility. But the options are endless—give what you have to share (pretty much anything other than unsolicited advice!) and you will receive something valuable in return: maybe a heartfelt thank-you and big smile, maybe a new experience or a fascinating conversation, maybe even a new friend. The possibilities are endless—surprise yourself and feel good about giving and about yourself. There’s a close connection between happiness and satisfaction on the one hand and improved self-worth and confidence on the other. And don’t worry if your give is a small one. This is about being generous with yourself and others, being appreciated for who you are, and ultimately about building connection.
Take baby steps
Overwhelm is keeping a lot of us stuck in a place where we don’t take action because we don’t know where to start. But self-worth can’t be built by doing nothing. I know, there’s so much to do to reach the place where we can be happy with ourselves and maybe even a little proud! It’s been said a million times, but I’ll say it again: Every journey starts with the first step. And quite honestly, often enough it doesn’t even matter what step that is. Obsessing over not taking the wrong step will definitely not get you anywhere. Taking any step is progress—maybe in the direction you were planning to go, maybe in another, and that again may be better than you could have anticipated. Or not—but at least you’re moving, and the second step is always, always easier than the first. That’s when you start building momentum—one baby step as a time. Way back in the day, you were a toddler taking your first baby steps and didn’t give up until you learned how to walk—so why would you give up now? So break stuff down and do one little thing right now, and then the next tomorrow. You’ve got this!
Be your own cheerleader
When you listen to your inner monolog, what does it say? That you are a fraud or a procrastinator or bad with money or … (fill in the blank)? These negative stereotypes we bombard ourselves with are usually the result of limiting beliefs we carry around that makes us feel we don’t deserve certain things in our lives. But that’s the past trying to define our future, and we don’t need to play that game. We all tend to be harder on ourselves than on anybody else—but this is our thoughts and we can work on changing them. So first off, start by celebrating your victories, even the small ones. You deserve all the Well done!-s and You rock!-s you can get, so be the first one to acknowledge your successes. I am not telling you that you can get rid of your mean inner voice entirely—but you can learn to manage the inner critic and even embrace it (granted, that step will take some time) and curb the negative self-talk along the way—to truly enjoy your self-worth.