By Tania Kotsos
UPDATED: NOV 2020
Your self-worth is a function of how much you value yourself. To have high self-worth is to believe that you are worthy of and truly deserve a joyful life—a life in which you are loved, accepted and respected and in which you deserve to receive and experience all that is good. Many people are unaware of their self-worth and have never stopped to consider if they believe they deserve what they desire to create in their lives. Ask yourself if you deserve what you desire and if the answer isn't somewhere along the lines of 'of course I do' then you have either yet to discover your self-worth or you have diminished it, which really amounts to the same thing.
The problem with self-worth or the lack thereof is that society as a whole determines someone's value based more on what that person has on the outside than what they have on the inside—far more. Indeed, society places excessive value on how someone appears to be on the outside rather than who that person is on the inside, mainly because the former is visible and the latter invisible. This means that a person's success is also defined by outside achievements and possessions—and the more you have, the more successful you are, which goes hand-in-hand with how worthy you think you are of having more, while the opposite holds equally true.
Society tends to weigh a person's value on the scale of physical assets such as money, material possessions, physical beauty, marital status, career status and so on. And the more you have of all these outside things, the more valuable you are to society and so, the more successful you are deemed in its eyes. Society seldom, if ever, weighs someone's value on the scale of virtues such as love, integrity, kindness, emotional intelligence, justice and so on. These inner qualities are often ignored altogether when determining someone's success. Yes, these virtues may be praised when displayed but when did you last hear someone applauding a person's success based on their kindness.
If you consider yourself unsuccessful and not very valuable it's probably because you've been using the 'outer scale' and not the 'inner scale' to weigh your value. If you believe your value is low, whether consciously or not, your self-worth follows suit. Society's obsession with outwardly appearances and possessions has created a distorted definition of success that has resulted in a distorted sense of self-worth for many people and they don't even know it and so have never taken the steps to correct it. Money has hi-jacked the earth's wheel. We are told that money makes the world go round whereas it's love—love has always made the world go round not money, not power, only love.
You are likely to find that specific outwardly appearances automatically trigger a tendency within you to compare yourself to others, whether it is how much money someone else has or is making, how physically attractive they are, their relationship status or what material possessions they have and so on. Dig a little deeper and you will find that you have unwittingly placed an undue value on these outwardly appearances and are using them to determine your own self-worth.
In other words, how much money you have, how attractive you are and so on, have become the determining factors of your self-worth, and usually in isolation of all your other qualities, virtues and achievements. Such specific comparisons leave you temporarily feeling either better or worse about yourself, depending on where you rank yourself on society's scale of success, albeit a distorted scale.
Take a moment and make a list of all those outside factors that you have inadvertently made the yardstick of your own self-worth and feelings of success. You will notice how most of your list requires you to compare yourself to others or to seek outside approval in order to determine your self-value or 'how well you're doing' on the scale of success. This is because you can never really gauge how much money you have if you do not compare it to someone else's bank account, or how attractive you are if you do not compare yourself to someone else's appearance.
This makes your self-worth depend on outside things and vulnerable to being disturbed by those things. Put simply, when you place your self-worth on the altar of comparison then the more others have in comparison to you the less successful you feel, the less worthy you feel and so the less happy or content you are as a person. The humour in Daniel Gilbert's definition of happiness captures this quite perfectly: "Happiness is proportional to your salary divided by your brother-in-law's salary."
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Outward appearances are highly subject to change. A multi-millionaire can find himself bankrupt overnight and the beggar can find himself a millionaire. A financial crisis can ruin even the most successful business, a beautiful women may find herself feeling worthless as she ages and so it goes on. There are no absolutes in outwardly appearances. If you are using such changeable factors to define your self-worth you are aiming at an always-moving target because there will always be someone richer, more attractive, more materially successful than you. It can be no other way in the Physical Plane where the duality of relative things reigns supreme.
How you value yourself is a reflection of how you value others. If, for instance, you have placed undue value on money as a symbol of success, then in your estimation people with more money are to be admired more than those with less. Paradoxically, the very people you admire most are also the one's you're likely to envy the most when their bank balance outdoes yours. Therein lies the paradox—if what you admire are outside factors, then what you admire most is also what you secretly envy because it poses a threat to the estimation of your own self-worth, more so as it breeds a mentality of scarcity.
You can never really be happy for those you admire most when your own self-worth is based on outwardly appearances. It is mentally exhausting to have to compare yourself in order to give yourself permission to feel good or better about yourself, in the ignorance that you have the choice to always feel good, to always feel joyful, to always feel worthy. There is something so satisfying in truly being able to take joy in the joy of others, even when what they have is exactly what you desire.
It is futile, therefore, to base your self-worth on outwardly appearances that are relative in nature and simply the product of what society has placed an undue value on. The question then is, what should you base your self-worth on instead? Ask yourself, if you had no worldly possessions and there was no one to compare yourself to physically or materially, what would you be left with to determine your value? And what you are left with is your inner world and more specifically, your virtues.
This exercise will enable you to see for yourself what you truly value. Make a list all those human virtues that you value. Some examples are personal integrity, self-love, the ability to show and receive love, kindness, self-confidence, honesty, self-conviction, being true to oneself, a sense of humour, affection, gratitude, fairness and so on. Now compare this list of virtues to your original list of outwardly appearances you have been using up until now as your main yardstick for your own self-worth.
Which of the two lists holds what you truly value? It's easy really—the one that makes you feel better on the inside and cannot be disturbed by outwardly forces, comparison or opinions. The list of human virtues. You may be the wealthiest, the most attractive, the most successful person on the outside but if on the inside you are wracked by envy, greed and ruthless competitiveness, then what is it all worth? Endeavour, therefore, to cultivate your virtues as the foundation of your self-worth and then set out to attain all those outwardly things you desire. Not because they'll make you feel worthy by comparison but because you know that through your wonderful imagination you can create anything you desire for the sheer joy of the experience.
Re-defining your self-worth does not mean that you no longer desire all those outwardly things that make life more enjoyable. It simply means that those factors by which society defines success, no longer define you. They no longer add to or subtract from your self-worth in any way. Your worth is independent of them. Of course you are still free to pursue a rewarding career, to make as much money as you want, to make yourself look your best, and to acquire all those material things you may desire. The difference lies in why you are doing so. And the answer is because you choose to, not because you have to in order to feel better about yourself compared to others. Paradoxically, when those outwardly appearances that you once so desperately pursued no longer define you, they will flow freely towards you as if without effort, at least free from the kind of effort that feels forceful or anxious.
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Interestingly, if someone displays more of a virtue that you admire than you do, it brings out a sense of greater love and admiration for that person, rather than a sense of jealousy and insecurity. While comparing yourself to others in any way is unnecessary, you can still look to people that you admire for their inwardly and outwardly successes as a source of inspiration to better yourself while being equally happy for them and wishing them the best.
There is seldom a prize or career promotion for the kindest person in the office or for the person with the greatest integrity. You will find that people do not compete to see who is the kindest, or who is the most loving, or who is the most self-assured. This is because the display of true virtue brings you closer to your Higher Self that is above the opposites of the physical world and those outwardly appearances that society uses to define success.
Man's highest virtues are fundamental to the human Spirit and cannot be bought or sold for all the money in the world. Real self-worth is priceless. And your Higher Self is above the need to compare, not because it cannot compare but because it knows that doing so is futile. When you know that everything and everyone is you—the Real You—pushed out, who would you be comparing yourself to?
What you believe you deserve is contingent on your self-worth. If you do not feel 'good enough' then you don't quite believe you deserve your desires. Why? Because you have declared that you don't! Asking whether you deserve something or not is a limiting question and really shouldn't be a question at all. Why? Because you create it all. You can always have what you truly desire not because you are 'good enough' but because this is your dream, your experience. How deserving you are of a life of joy and all those things you desire isn't a viable question because it is based on duality, as if some outside power is determining how deserving you are.
Even if to date you have acted in ways that lacked virtue or hurt others or hurt yourself so as to make you feel non-deserving of your desires, this can only have been out of ignorance that everyone and everything is a projection of your consciousness and that your true nature—that of your True Self—is Absolute Love. The love of your Higher Self for you is one and the same as the Love of the Absolute or God. Absolute Love does not rise or fall in accordance with your actions—it is unchanging.
By virtue of being a Divine Spark of the Absolute, resolve now to never again question if you deserve something or not. Your self-worth doesn't determine what you deserve. Rather a self-worth based on virtue brings you closer to the Absolute Love of your Higher Self and, hence, a deep love for yourself, for others and for all Life. Why would you deny yourself anything if you knew that it is your God-given gift to create anything you desire through your imagination? And when you know this, you can claim this most generous gift for yourself, be grateful for it and set out to attain your deepest desires while also rejoicing in the joy of others because they too are your mirror.