The question of self-worth can have different meanings depending on the context of the conversation. For our purposes, it is to know what you bring to the table as a human being. Don’t worry, we’re going to simplify and break down this concept because it’s a critical one that’s likely impacting your life without your awareness.
Many people confuse or conflate self-worth and self-esteem, but there’s a distinct difference:
Self-worth comes from noticing the evidence of your impact and/or influence on your external world — not from a place of ego — but as a true assessment of tangible outcomes.
It begs the questions:
What is your impact on the world?
What is it that you uniquely bring to your community?
What benefits do others gain from knowing and collaborating with you?
What is the body of knowledge you carry and what does that bring to the world?
Your worth lives in the external reality. Others see it and are affected by it. It’s not interpretive, it’s factual. It is based on practical evidence of what you’ve actually manifested, and how that impacts everything in the environment.
Self-esteem is ultimately defined by how we feel about ourselves. It’s your subjective, internal view of yourself. It is an interpretation of our self-perception that’s built on our opinions and self-talk. Whether good or bad, it’s a biased perception that’s not always accurate.
For example, some people have an over inflated sense of self-esteem that doesn’t line up with what the impact they actually have in reality. Conversely, an under inflated self-esteem reflects a view of oneself that doesn’t acknowledge their real impact. A good example of this is imposter syndrome: feeling undeserving or like a fraud despite producing results; you’re waiting to be exposed or caught, and constantly doubting yourself.
The importance of noticing:
Worth is directly correlated to impact, but having a high self-worth only comes to fruition when you notice and acknowledge that impact. In other words, you can have a high impact out in the world without being truly present to it. One of the ways we build self-esteem is through the recognition of our impact.
When you achieve, allow yourself to feel it. Take time to feel the sensations of your success. Practicing that experience perpetuates it. The same is true for negative sensations. Many people focus on their missteps without accurately acknowledging their wins. Emphasizing and ruminating on those things in an unbalanced way takes us down a path of “never being enough.” That becomes the inner narrative and the lens through which we see ourselves and our lives, which is unhealthy — and an untrue assessment of reality.
How somatic experiencing can improve your self-esteem:
In somatic experiencing, an over-coupling is an exaggerated association, usually from a trauma. For example, if you’ve been in a car accident, a loud noise might trigger…(we need to clarify this a bit more)
An under-coupling is a disconnect or an inability to experience the thoughts and emotions typically associated with that thing. Since you essentially have no imprint for it, it occurs as if the words have no meaning.
One example is being numb to receiving a compliment. The experiential reaction can range from blankness to confusion and mimics a state of “freeze.” There’s a big disconnect there that can put us at risk in some ways. We discount ourselves where we shouldn’t, leaving us vulnerable to being taken advantage of. That can look like many things:
not being paid appropriately
having someone else taking credit for your contribution
caretaking to the extreme of codependence
hiding or playing it small; not truly bringing all you have to offer the table
not allowing others to give to you
not trusting or knowing what you're capable of
thus limiting yourself when a lot more is within reach.
On the other hand, you might find that if you are criticized or told that you’re not enough in some way, you can easily relate to that.
Taking positive steps to heal:
Just as corporations do a yearly evaluation with their employees to assess their value to the organization and what they could do to increase their worth, it would be highly valuable to do a similar assessment for our lives. Could you be honest with yourself? Would your self-talk allow you to take in the information and use it to better your life or would you go into denial around the truth (good or bad)? By assessing your actual impact, without making the information right or wrong, it can open up new space for growth. You might also notice that your perspective has been off, which creates an opportunity to realign more accurately.
Trauma can make it hard to self-evaluate this way. Especially if you are still seeing life through the lens of your unhealed wounding. Our ability to self-assess is skewed if we have unhealed wounds from emotional abuse (all other forms of abuse include emotional abuse), gaslighting, neglect, unpredictable early childhood environments, or environments where shaming was used to direct behavior and where positive reinforcement or reflection wasn’t available.
In these environments, the ability to accurately self-assess wasn’t modeled or encouraged. This can be repaired by learning how to practice self-awareness and how to self-assess without judgment, and how to heal those wounds and their impact on you. This is possible. Self-care and self-compassion are key to healing this and cultivating self-love. All of this impacts our ability to create and have the things we want.
If this is something you are working with, I have a great flower essence remedy that focuses on self-love, acceptance, and trust. It’s called Unconditional Self Acceptance.
Here’s the flower essence description:
Unconditional Self Acceptance
Accept yourself unconditionally. Release the ingrained self-defeating attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs that have kept you stuck. This remedy will help you embrace your humanity and divinity, so you can experience the totality of who you truly are. By replacing self-judgment with self-trust, you'll strengthen your connection to your Higher Self, experience profound growth, and be empowered to create a more enriched life.
If that sounds like something that calls to you, email me to place an order or for more info.