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Self-Worth vs. Self-Esteem: What's the Difference?

Have you ever wondered what self-worth really means? Well, self-worth is about understanding and accepting our intrinsic value as a unique individual, regardless of our achievements or external circumstances. It means recognizing that we are inherently worthy of love, respect, and dignity simply because we exist. Our worth as a human being is an innate and unchanging aspect of our being, present from the moment we are born. It's not something we have to earn or strive for, but something we already possess. 

On the other hand, self-esteem is more closely tied to our sense of competence and ability in specific areas of our life. It's based on your evaluation of your skills, talents, and achievements and how they compare to those of others. While it's important to feel good about what we can do, our self-esteem can fluctuate over time, depending on our circumstances and experiences. However, our self-worth remains constant and unwavering, providing a stable foundation for our identity and well-being.


Sometimes, things can get in the way of us genuinely embracing our self-worth. External factors like negative experiences and self-doubt can disconnect us from our sense of worth. That's why it's important to recognize these factors and work towards remembering you are valuable and worthy just the way you are!


Childhood trauma can have a profound impact on our sense of self-worth and our ability to connect with ourselves. Children who experience trauma often learn to shut down emotionally and may alter their behavior to please others. Since children are primarily focused on themselves, they may struggle to differentiate between external events and their personal experiences. This can lead to negative self-talk and limiting beliefs over time, which can be difficult to overcome. Traumatized individuals may even fear their strengths and talents, causing them to hold back and prevent them from being their true selves. This can make it challenging to form healthy relationships and be authentic in our interactions.


When we are disconnected from our self-worth, we are often unsure of what our own needs are, struggle to assert ourselves, feel like a victim, allow others to take advantage of us, fear revealing our true selves, we feel anxious around others, we're overly focused about what others think about us, we ruminate about what we said or did, we're more focused on the opinions of others than our own.

The good news is that it's entirely possible to reconnect with your self-worth. Here's how to start:

1.     Journal,

Let's start by drawing a gingerbread man. Don't worry about your drawing skills because this is not an art test. You just need to use this figure to help you understand your self-worth.

On the inside of the gingerbread man, write down all the things that make you special and unique. These are your intrinsic qualities that make you who you are. On the outside, write things such as your job, status, and how others perceive you. These things can also be essential, but they should not define you.


Now, let's think about what others have told you about yourself and their expectations for you. Write these ideas on the outside of the figure. Then, on the inside, write the truth about yourself based on your self-worth. This exercise will help you differentiate between false ideas you have been taught about yourself and who you really are.


Remember, self-worth is about the things that make you unique and valuable as a person. Think about all the things that can never be taken away from you, such as your love, empathy, and worthiness. If you lost everything in your life, what would still be of value? These are the things that make you special and unique, no matter what anyone else says.


2.     Identify and challenge your critical inner voice: Start by listening to your thoughts and watching out for negative self-talk. Then, ask yourself if those words are true, kind, or necessary. If they're not, try to focus on the good things in your life instead.


3.     Reclaim your own sense of power: Authenticity is the key to feeling confident in yourself. Trust your instincts and make decisions based on the fact that you're worth just as you are and deserve the best.


4.    Forgive yourself: Let go of any past regrets and mistakes by forgiving yourself. Remember, you don't have to be perfect to accept yourself for who you are.


5.     Use positive self-talk. Repeat the following affirmations to yourself:

-       "I am valuable and lovable, deserving of love and respect."

-       "I am worthy of happiness and success."

-       "I love and accept myself unconditionally, flaws and all."


6.     Self-Care: Try to carve out some time to exercise, meditate, spend time with loved ones, or relax and unwind. Remember, it's okay to prioritize your own needs and wants!


In summary, life is a journey of re-learning who we are and embracing our true worth with love and kindness. It's never too late to reconnect with ourselves and remember how truly amazing we are.


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