The way we perceive our own self-worth as a person has a profound influence on every aspect of our life. Today’s culture sends a lot of mixed signals that can easily distort our views about what makes us a worthwhile person.
Unless we develop a well grounded understanding of the true nature of personal value, we will probably end up adopting one or more of these distorted views.
How Self-worth Affects confidence
Our confidence in our own abilities will ultimately be the deciding factor when it comes to taking action and producing results. A lack of self-confidence acts as a restraint, holding us back from pursuing the life we desire. A distorted view of self-worth leads us to believe that we don’t deserve a better life and undermines our efforts to create change.
Self-confidence, self-worth and self-esteem are all closely related and are based on a personal belief system. Beliefs are rarely about reality. They are an emotional conclusion based on our personal perception. This means that logic alone is not usually enough to alter limiting beliefs. But asking logical questions about the perceptions that lead to those beliefs can make them more susceptible to reason.
Common ideas that distort our perception
It’s important to realize that there are those who work really hard to influence our views and personal values. Advertisers try to anchor their product to our emotions in an effort to make us feel incomplete, or below par, if we don‘t buy what they are selling.
Many employers want us to think that their approval is a key factor in our self-worth and that our job is the most important thing in our life. There is also a social perception that exerts a strong influence to live up to certain expectations. And these are just a few of the forces working to mold our viewpoints about ourselves.
To counter some commonly accepted but misguided notions about self-worth, let’s take a closer look at the two sides of five different ideas that often lead to confusion.
1. Someone else’s opinion or your perception. What this boils down to is whether we place greater importance on external or internal validation. I think that we all appreciate it when others approve of us, even if we have a strong sense of self-worth. It’s human nature to want the approval of others, but it should not be the standard by which we gauge our own worth.
We need to develop an empowering belief about our own worth as a person, and it should form the basis for our personal validation. External validation should be used to reinforce our beliefs, not as a basis for them.
Never allow someone else’s opinion of you to shape your view of yourself. Practice giving sincere approval to yourself every single day.
2. What you’ve acquired or what you have given. How much stuff we own has absolutely nothing to do with our personal value. Your contributions are much more important than your acquisitions. Giving from the heart is a reflection of your inner self. It speaks of who you are, not how much you can afford.
Making personal value judgments based on material assets is for shallow thinkers only. Leave that thinking for the creditors. We don’t want to think that way, and we don’t need to be influenced by those who do.
3. IQ or practical thinking ability. On the journey of life, practical smarts are of far greater value than IQ scores. I am not saying that you can’t have both, because you can. But test results do not make one person more valuable than another. If we have common sense and the ability to make sound decisions then we are blessed.
In certain academic circles test scores may elevate someone, but that is not the real world. My brother had the same IQ as Einstein, but lack of common sense cost him his life. Never allow test scores to make you feel more or less important than someone else. There will always be people whose test results are both higher and lower than yours.
4. Accomplishments or efforts. Accomplishment is a wonderful thing. We all feel great when we work at something and get the results we wanted. But here’s the thing; sometimes we succeed at producing our intended result, and sometimes we fail. That’s just a fact of life for everyone.
The problem is, the reward for success is usually tangible while the value of failure can be much harder to appreciate. Life is about learning what works and what doesn’t. In the learning process, success and failure have equal value as long as we learn from them. Never link your personal worth to the results you produce. Your are a person, not an accomplishment.
5. Fash or substance. This one seems obvious enough, and yet our culture often places greater value on flash. Never mistake looks, abilities, outrageous behavior or material wealth as a measure of self-worth. Substance is the name of the game. No matter how nicely wrapped a package is, the important thing is what’s inside.
The same is true of people, it’s what’s inside that counts. When we are true to our personal ethics, we have integrity. When we care about the welfare of others, we have compassion. When we give without expecting anything in return, we are generous.
Cultivate these qualities and you will be a person of substance. What a wonderful basis for a strong sense of self-worth and feelings of true value.
What is your most valuable asset?
You have something of great worth and it is so rare that it’s not shared by anyone else on the planet. Do you know what that is? You are a one of a kind, totally unique individual. You are you, and that alone makes you valuable.
Take some time to appreciate who you really are, aside from all the trappings and outside opinions. Make a list of things you like about yourself and then read it out loud so it can resonate in your consciousness. Think about all the ways you have contributed to the lives of those around you. Now, give yourself some well deserved approval. It’s time to celebrate you!
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