According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability and a major catalyst for illness worldwide. Many believe the core issue lies in people’s profound lack of self-worth. We are fed messages that we aren’t enough and that we need to change our behaviours to be accepted. You may be able to accomplish a lot and have confidence in your ability to achieve things with your status or role at work or maybe you’ve earned accolades and have a lot of friends but, what if you don’t have any of that? Do you believe you are of value just the way you are? Self-worth is an innate belief that you are valuable simply the way you are without conditions.
Here are 4 steps to developing self-worth.
1. Forgive Yourself
Are there things that have happened at work or in your life that you’re still beating yourself up about? Acknowledge and accept what happened. Know you did your best with what you knew at the time. Release blame and move forward. Forgive yourself by reflecting on those past circumstances that led you to do, say or be that way. Then identify that it might have been appropriate at the time and think about what you learned.
Then, say “I forgive you” to yourself, in a kind way. Maybe you want to put your hand on your heart as you say it. This is an affirming act of self-compassion.
2. Practice Self-Acceptance
We receive so many messages that we are not okay. That there is something wrong with us and that we are inadequate. We are told we must change clothes, personalities, jobs, bodies, or interests just to be acceptable.
See if you can let go of those messages about how you should feel, look, and behave. Focus on things you like about yourself and embrace quirks and even the unusual ways of thinking. Write down 5 things you like about yourself and read it every day for a month.
3. Be There For Yourself When Life Goes Awry
When things get rough, we tend to engage in self-criticism. But what we really need is someone to say “I see you. I’m here.” We can do this for ourselves, like a self-soothing technique.
Try not to shove down or ignore the pain/uncomfortable feelings, but rather, acknowledge the discomfort and practice self-care.
4. Connect To Supportive People
When we think something is wrong with us, we tend to pull away from relationships. But that isolation exacerbates the unworthiness that lives within us. When we share and become vulnerable (in safe spaces), we get in touch with our humanity through connection. Knowing that we are not alone in our experiences and that there are others who live similar challenges can be incredibly validating. This can be felt through community, group therapy, but also within your own personal networks.
The path of self-acceptance and self-worth is not easy. So, it takes courage to pull away from your current conditions and process what can be painful and vulnerable. But it’s worth it when you draw strength and ground yourself in your own imperfection. Embrace yourself for who you are.