A combination of nature and nurture are responsible for the struggle many women have with their sense of self-worth.
All too frequently we see brilliant women grapple with their ability to recognise just how great their contribution is, massively underestimating their value. This can have disastrous consequences – not only for our careers and personal lives, but for our mental and physical health and wellbeing too.
According to ongoing research, women are biologically more predisposed towards forming and holding on to negative thought patterns than men. Add to this cultural stereotyping, gender inequality and a patriarchal society and we have a real recipe for women developing low self-worth on a large scale. And this is a problem that can (and does) affect any woman – regardless of background, ethnicity, age or education.
Whether you are a high flyer, competing against your male counterparts for the top positions, or a working mum, juggling it all and doing the work of three; time and time again we see women failing to appreciate their true value and falling into the trap of over-proving themselves or over-delivering in order to meet their own, unsustainable benchmarks. We have all heard the phrase, “your own harshest critic” and that couldn’t be truer of women with low self-worth. Ever find yourself expecting far more of yourself than you would anyone else? Or perhaps you never quite feel good enough, clever enough, experienced enough? Do the terms “imposter syndrome” or “perfectionist” resonate? It could be that you would benefit from a self-worth overhaul!
Of course, not every woman has this issue, but it’s fair to say a large proportion do and for those women, self-worth is an ongoing concern and one which must be consciously worked at on a daily basis. The great news is that it is entirely possible to rewire those negative thought patterns and develop self-worth to a much healthier level.
We’ve identified six key ways in which women can nurture their self-worth and start to understand the real value they bring to their work and life - and to know that actually, it is enough!
6 ways women can realise their self-worth and win:
1. Respect your own boundaries
Setting personal boundaries not only gives a message to other people, it also reinforces a positive message to ourselves. Of course, it’s important to make our boundaries clear, to prevent people from taking advantage of our time and generosity. However, by setting those boundaries, we are also reminding ourselves that our time, energy and talents have a value. By recognising this value we reinforce our sense of self-worth and by upholding our boundaries, we demonstrate that self-worth to others. Not only will we feel better about ourselves but we will gain increased respect from those around us.
2. Value your own time
This leads on from our previous point. Learning the value of our time is crucial to achieving a healthy level of self-worth, although being over-generous is a very easy trap to fall into. What can start off as one evening of overtime, can turn into being expected to work for more hours than we are paid. If we do not value our time, we leave ourselves open to exploitation – people will naturally take all they can get and we will be left paying the consequences (we are talking anything ranging from frustration and unhappiness to physical exhaustion or even burnout). While it’s absolutely fine to go the extra mile from time to time and for the right reasons, it’s so important that we learn to draw the line when enough is enough and start recognising the true value of our time.
3. Give yourself permission
As children we need permission to do almost anything, but as adults we no longer require permission from anyone other than ourselves – or at least we shouldn’t! (Although it isn’t always easy to remember this!) By continuing to seek permission or approval from others, we are giving away control over our lives and undermining our sense of self-worth. Whether we are seeking permission to succeed at something – or permission to fail, permission to feel happy – or permission to feel sad, or even permission to just be ourselves; when we stop turning to others, we take back our control and our self-worth will blossom as a result.
4. Respect yourself and your own values
Self-respect is a key element of self-worth and is crucial to happiness and wellbeing. It determines how we treat ourselves, how we allow others to behave towards us and it forms the basis of all our decision making – yes, it really is that important! When we become clear about who we are as a person, what our values and beliefs are and how we expect to be treated by others, it becomes easier for others to respect us in return – all of which will help reinforce a strong sense of self-worth.
5. Be your own personal leader
No one is better placed to lead our lives in the right direction than ourselves. By taking the decision to become our own personal leaders, we are automatically putting ourselves in control of our own destinies. We can set our own goals, devise plans to achieve them and oversee the actioning of these plans; showing ourselves kindness and praise along the way. We can take responsibility for our own motivation and encouragement, being accountable to no one but ourselves. By doing this, not only will we be giving ourselves the best chance at succeeding in life, but our sense of self-worth will expand exponentially!
6. Trust your intuition
Listening to and trusting our inner voice is another great way to foster self-worth. By relying on our intuition we are tuning in to our own personal truth and placing faith in ourselves. More often than not we will find that we instinctively know the best path to take or the right decision to make – all we need to do is trust those instincts rather than looking for answers elsewhere. By doing this we will find ourselves doing more of what makes us happy and our self-worth will grow stronger, knowing we are being true to ourselves.
Really knowing our self-worth is fundamental to our overall happiness and wellbeing and it’s something which needs to be worked at – an ongoing commitment to ourselves. People and life in general will regularly test our self-worth, making us question and doubt ourselves, which is why it is so important to keep up with our self-worth maintenance. Ultimately, what really matters is that we know in our hearts we are doing the best we can and that is good enough for us – and good enough for everyone else too.
By Gemma Coldwell - Contributing editor
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