How to Build Self-Worth and Start Believing in Yourself Again

Abraham Lincoln

It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself.

This article is part of an 8 part series to help you develop more confidence in the pursuit of your goals. Here is a list of all articles within this series:

  1. Improving Self-Esteem
  2. Transform Your Self-Concept
  3. Boosting Self-Confidence
  4. Developing Self-Worth
  5. Building a Healthy Self-Image
  6. Pursuing the Ideal Self
  7. Fake it ‘Til You Make it!
  8. Developing Superhero Courage

What is Self-Esteem?

Any discussion about how to build one’s self-worth must start with a definition of self-esteem. The two are related, and your self-esteem is certainly influenced by your self-worth. However, they are not the same.

Self-esteem is primarily built upon sources outside of yourself that you essentially have no personal control over. Yes, it is based on the thoughts and feelings you have related to your results, behavior, and performance. In fact, self-esteem is built upon the value derived from doing the things that get you your desired outcomes. But it’s more than just “doing,” it’s rather how you feel about yourself at every moment based on your actions. And how you feel about yourself is heavily influenced by how you feel you’re fairing compared to others. In other words, your self-esteem is derived from what you think others “think” of you based on your results and actions.

Given all this, it’s quite clear that self-esteem is not something that comes from within, but rather something that comes from outside of ourselves that influences how we feel at any given moment in time. And yet this has nothing to do with reality, but rather it’s purely based on one’s perspective and interpretation of reality. Therefore self-esteem is fickle and can shift with the changing winds. However, this isn’t true for those people who have a high level of self-worth. A high degree of self-worth naturally enhances our levels of self-esteem providing you with the confidence you need to follow through with your chosen decisions and actions.

What is Self-Esteem

What is Self-Worth?

Self-worth is an internal state of being that comes from self-understanding, self-love, and self-acceptance. It is a state that is somewhat timeless and unchanging because it is a measure of how you value and regard yourself despite what others may say and/or despite unfavorable circumstances. It is, therefore, something that doesn’t quickly or easily change when external factors change. It is steady and unflinching, and there lies the power and value of building your self-worth.

This is, of course, all well and good, but what does it actually mean to have a high level of self-worth?

To have a high level of self-worth means having a favorable opinion or estimate of yourself. It means having unshakable faith in yourself and in your ability to follow through and get things done. It means feeling worthy of good things; feeling deserving of happiness, health, wealth, success and love no matter what difficulties you might face, disappointments you may experience, or what other people might or might not say to you. It is unflinching.

To have a high level of self-worth means accepting yourself wholeheartedly at all times despite your flaws, weaknesses, and limitations. It is all about accepting the true value of who you are right here right now at this very moment.

To have high levels of self-worth means never allowing yourself to be defined by outside forces or people’s opinions. It means never allowing specific outcomes to shake your confidence, faith or resolve. In other words, no matter what happens you are steadfast. Nothing outside of you influences how you feel about yourself. Your influence alone is the only thing that matters. You alone are the biggest factor in how you feel about yourself, your life and about your circumstances. And that is more powerful than anything we can muster from within.

What is Self-Worth

Building Your Self-Worth

So all this is wonderful, right? Having a high level of self-worth is no doubt of tremendous value in so many ways. But the question is how do we go about building this self-worth? How do we create a level of self-worth that can empower our everyday actions and decisions towards the outcomes that we would like to realize?

What I would like to share with you is a five step process for doing exactly that; for building your self-worth step-by-step. This, of course, isn’t something that you can do once and then forget about it. It is rather something that you must work on consistently. That is the only way you will build anything of true value.

Placing one single brick down on the ground doesn’t build a fortress, however over time as you lay down more bricks a fortress comes together. However, this takes time, and building a high level of self-worth will also take time. You must, therefore, see this as a long-term process that you need to work on consistently over time.

Lay down a new brick each and every day. Eventually, the fortress will grow bigger and more solid until it becomes almost unbreakable despite outside conditions. A strong wind might blow; hail, rain, and thunder might tumble down, and yet your fortress will remain intact because you put in place a solid foundation and consistently built it up over time. That is where the strength of the fortress comes from, and that is where the strength of your self-worth comes from as well.

So, let’s now jump into the five step process to help you build your self-worth.

Step 1: The Self-Understanding Stage

Your first step involves getting to know yourself at a deeper and more profound level. Imagine for a moment if everything you had was suddenly taken away from you. I mean literally everything including your possessions, career, money, relationships, accomplishments and anything that is physical and tangible. Ask yourself:

What if everything I have was suddenly taken away from me?

What if all I had left was just myself?

How would that make me feel?

What would I actually have that would be of value?

This is an interesting scenario; one that many people probably never really take the time to consider. It’s interesting because how you feel about yourself after everything has been taken away from you is essentially the measure of your self-worth. If you have a high level of self-worth then having everything taken away from you won’t change who you are as a person or shake your self-confidence because you simply don’t measure your value upon external circumstances. Instead, your value comes from within. This is why it’s absolutely critical to really have a good-long-hard think about that last question, and answer it with genuine honesty: What would you actually have left that would be of value?

The deeper you dig into this question, the more you will find within yourself that you do actually value. However, you must really take the time sit down and ponder this question. The more you ponder, the more you will find, and that is where real self-worth comes from. It comes from understanding that: “No matter what happens externally. No matter what is taken away from me, that it doesn’t affect me internally”. That is what matters most when it comes to building your self-worth.

So let’s now dig even deeper into your true value by posing another set of questions that will help unlock how you see yourself with no masks or inhibitions. Ask yourself:

Who am I? I am… I am not…

How am I?

How am I in the world?

How do others see me?

How do others speak about me?

What key life moments define who I am today?

What brings me most passion, fulfillment and joy?

Who you are and how you see yourself are keys to understanding your true value. How others see you and how they speak about you is also important, but this is not so much about them but rather about how you feel about yourself as a result of how others see or speak about you. That is, of course, another measure of your self-worth. Then there are those key life moments and the things that bring you the most joy, passion, and fulfillment. These are the things that help you unlock the value you bring to the world. However, this isn’t all about pretty little rose petals and rainbows. This process involves being real with yourself. As such let’s be real for a moment and take a look at your weaknesses and struggles. Ask yourself:

Where do I struggle most?

Where do I need to improve?

What fears often hold me back?

What habitual emotions hurt me?

What mistakes do I tend to make?

Where do I tend to consistently falter?

Where do I regularly let myself down?

You are human after all. And as a human being, we all have our weaknesses and face our own personal struggles. As such we must be real and honest with our assessment of ourselves. Only in this way will you be able to build a high value of self-worth over the long-term. Only in this way will you get the depth of understanding you need about yourself to move forward through this process.

And since we are being honest, it is also helpful to take a look at your strengths. As such, ask yourself:

What abilities do I have?

What am I really good at?

Your strengths are the things that will help build your confidence and allow you to move forward with greater self-assurance. However, it is important to note that true strengths are only strengths by your own measure. If you are relying on other people to tell you whether or not you are good at something, then that is not a true strength that comes from a sense of personal power. In the future, these people could very well change their opinion, and suddenly your strength turns into an afterthought. However, this doesn’t need to be the case if you truly believe in your own heart in your own personal value. That is what counts, and that is what truly matters when it comes to building your self-worth.

Building Your Self-Worth

Step 2: The Self-Acceptance Stage

You probably now have a very clear picture of your current level of self-worth and how you see yourself within the world. There will, of course, be good things, neutral things and things that you might not be too proud to admit. However, to build true self-worth, we must be real with ourselves at all times. This requires wholeheartedly acknowledging your true nature including the good, the bad and the ugly. This is all about being true to yourself and authentic in every way.

Yes, you’re not perfect. Yes, you have flaws, you’ve made mistakes and failed miserably time after time, however, this is you; this is the true you; this is who you are. Forgive yourself for everything you have done in the past and accept yourself unconditionally without justification, judgment or making excuses. This is you. This is who you are. Accept that by acknowledging:

I accept the good, the bad and the ugly…

I fully accept every part of myself including my flaws, fears, behaviors and qualities I might not be proud of…

This is how I am, and I am at peace with that.

Fully accepting yourself despite things you might not be too proud of is absolutely critical for developing a high level of self-worth. This is you. You are being vulnerable, authentic and real. Embrace who you are fully and wholeheartedly. Only in this way will you finally let go of everything that is holding you back and embrace the fact that you will no longer allow outside forces to define you.

Step 3: The Self-Love Stage

Having fully accepted yourself, it’s now time to acknowledge your true value. To do this, it’s important to begin practicing self-love. This basically means treating yourself with kindness, tolerance, generosity, and compassion. Yes, you have flaws; yes you have so many limitations and weaknesses, but we all do. That’s part of being human. It’s time to let all that go and instead practice being compassionate with yourself. Compassion, of course, comes through self-love, which comes from self-acceptance, which comes from self-understanding. And if you can tell, these are the steps we went through moving through this process.

One simple way to begin practicing self-love is to get into the habit of speaking positively to yourself:

I feel valued and special…

I love myself wholeheartedly…

I am a worthy and capable person…

Talking to yourself in this way brings focus to everything that is within you. You are no longer looking at outside circumstances or people for approval or acknowledgment. You are instead searching for that approval from within yourself. And that is one of the biggest steps you can take towards building your self-worth.

Step 4: The Recognition Stage

When you have self-understanding; when you have fully accepted yourself; and when you reach the stage where you practice self-love and self-compassion, that is when you have come to a place where people, events, and circumstances no longer define who you are. You instead begin to define yourself. As such, it’s helpful to openly acknowledge and recognize that you no longer need to please other people. They have their own opinions, and they have their own life. You have yours, and no matter what people do or say and no matter what happens outside of you, you alone control your own perspective and attitude. You, therefore, hold the power to respond to events and circumstances not based on those events and circumstances but rather based on internal sources and resources that are a reflection of your true value.

It’s therefore important to recognize your true value regardless of your earnings, job, possessions, social status, relationship status, etc. Your true value is no longer measured by these things. It rather comes from an internal measure that you have set for yourself. And that is where true personal power comes from.

How to Build Your Self-Worth

Step 5: The Responsibility Stage

The final step in the process involves taking full responsibility for your life, your circumstances, and your problems. Of course, don’t be a martyr. However, it is important to take full responsibility for everything that happens to you without giving away your personal power.

To take responsibility means to acknowledge that you have the personal power to change/influence the events and circumstances of your life. You are no longer relying on other people to make these decisions for you. You alone take full responsibility, and you alone hold the power to make positive changes in your life. There is no complaining, blaming, judgment, or excuses. You now hold the power. You hold this power because you fully trust yourself and trust your ability to make decisions that put you in the driver’s seat of your life.

No longer are you swayed by the changing of the wind. You are steady and self-assured. You understand who you are, you accept yourself fully, love yourself unconditionally and recognize that you’re the captain of your ship and of your destiny. And no matter what storms are brewing outside and despite the rumors of a mutiny, you are focused and able to stay the course. You make adjustments on the fly, and you take charge of your ship. You are not rattled or phased by external circumstances. Yes, the outside world is a crazy mess. However, your inner world is as steady as can be, and that is what makes all the difference. That is what eventually brings your ship back to the safety of the harbor.

Time to Assimilate these Concepts

Building Your Self-Worth

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Adam is a life coach, mind mapper, doodler and visual thinker. He founded IQ Matrix in 2009 and has created over 350 self-growth mind maps. He also has a Free 40 Day How to Doodle Course where he teaches how to doodle using simple daily lessons. Read more about Adam's story, and how he created the concept for IQ Matrix. Feel free to also get in touch and send Adam a message here.