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Self-Worth’s Importance in Therapy and Healing

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

What is Self-Worth?

Self-worth means that you are important and valuable as a person because your core self is unique and irreplaceable. You are as valuable as any other person. Claudia A. Howard broke down human worth into 5 different parts. Those parts as defined by Howard are as follows:

  • All humans have infinite, internal, eternal, and unconditional worth as people.

  • All humans have equal worth as people. Worth is not comparative or competitive.

  • External skills, achievements, money, and looks neither add nor diminish worth. These external items only increase one’s market or social worth.

  • Worth is stable and never in jeopardy.

  • Worth doesn’t have to be earned or proved; it already exists. One just has to recognize, accept and appreciate it.

What happens when worth is equal to externals?

When we equate our worth to the externals around us our worth will fluctuate with those externals. For example, if we equate our worth to our achievements and we encounter a failure or mistake then our worth plummets with that failure or mistake. In the same vein if we experience a victory or recognition then our worth would rise with that victory or recognition. This puts us on a roller coaster of ups and downs related to our worth. Not only does worth rise and fall when equated to externals it also causes our self-esteem to rise and fall as well. Being able to separate self-worth from the externals that surround us will allow you to have a more solid sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

What happens when worth is separate from externals?

When we separate worth from the externals, worth is then intrinsic and unchanging, irrelevant of outside events or circumstances. When we work to separate our feelings of guilt for unwanted behaviors and shame related to core self, we determine our overall self-motivation. For example, guilt for our behaviors is healthy motivation to encourage change, while condemning or shaming our core self zaps our motivation to change. When we struggle to separate our self-worth from external influences around us it can lead to self-dislike and even depression.

How do we Challenge Dysfunctional Self-Worth Beliefs?

There are a few different ways to challenge ourselves when we do not have a healthy view of our worth. There are four primary ways in which we can begin to rebuild and replace an unhealthy view of self-worth with a more positive and healthy view. Below I briefly discuss these four skills.

These are recognizing and replacing self-defeating thoughts: over time a negative thought pattern can erode one’s sense of self-worth, leaving an unhealthy view in its place. Keep in mind worth itself is not eroded but one’s ability to experience their self-worth is eroded by negative thought patterns. On top of that these negative thought patterns can lead to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem that have large impacts on one’s overall mental health.

Acknowledge reality: this skill comes after you acquire the ability to recognize and replace self-defeating thoughts. This skill requires you to acknowledge unpleasant external conditions without condemning your self-worth. The main concept is practicing nevertheless statements. For example, I botched that project at work nevertheless I am still a worthwhile person.

Regard your core worth: being able to view your worth accurately is important when moving through life. Meaning that you are more than your externals and when you are able to accurately view yourself as worth and equal to other humans you are less likely to be impacted by external factors and conditions you encounter.

Create the habit of core-affirming thoughts: once you are able to implement the above three skills you will start to notice that your view of self-worth changing. Being able to create the habit of self-worth or core-affirming thoughts will act as a preventive to help you challenge when/if those thoughts reoccur. This activity aids in continuing to build and preserve self-esteem.

If you are struggling with the roller coaster ride of self-worth don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. We are trained to help you in your journey to achieve your mental health goals. There are many support groups as well that would be more than happy to help you along your life’s journey.


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