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  • Writer's pictureZenisha Gibson

You are the ish! Do you know it?

What is the difference between self-confidence and self-worth? I only recently came to understand the difference between the two. So, I figured others might be confusing the two as well and not living lives that demonstrate self-worth. 

Have you ever gone after an opportunity with confidence knowing that you were going to achieve the goal? Say a job interview, passing a big test for a certification, or achieving all the laborious tasks on your to-do list. Despite dreading the amount of work needed to achieve these goals. You knew that you would accomplish them and pridefully check off the last task by the end of the day! Do you know what fueled that belief? It’s most likely because you’re confident in your skills, and your capabilities. You know the ways you’ve worked hard and that you keep your word to yourself, at least most of the time. In these instances that was a demonstration of self-confidence. 

Now think about the way you feel about yourself when you make a mistake or fail, perhaps you don’t get the job you thought you’d get. Do you still love yourself or do you feel shame? Perhaps you’ve shown up to a meeting less than prepared, or the cake you said you were going to bring to the family gathering was a flop. Maybe a friend has decided they no longer want to be your friend. Maybe someone comments on a social media post saying anything but kind words about your photo. Or maybe a romantic partner calls it quits. Or say you worked on a project, and you put everything into it. And your boss tells you that you missed the mark by a long shot. Whew! 

None of these scenarios feel good. No matter who you are. When you try and things don’t work out, it can be a shot to the ego. Some people in certain situations, might want to mentally beat themselves up over it by using harsh names or being overly critical of themselves. Maybe you play the scenario over and over in your head. Contemplating all the ways you could have avoided a mistake, or made it better. If only I would have (insert any self-deprecating ways you’ve responded to your less than favorable outcomes).

This person could very well be the same one a week prior who was certain they could accomplish their goal and was even proud of their efforts. At least feeling confident enough to be caught off guard by the result. Most people don’t wake up expecting to fail or fall short. 

When someone’s self-worth is intact they can recognize that yes things didn't go as planned. And depending upon how you respond speaks to your self-worth. As well as the steps someone takes to care for oneself amid the disappointment, the insult, or the loss. How you take care of yourself is of course going to depend on the individual, the circumstances, and where they are in their self-worth journey. Acknowledging that this is ongoing work, our self-worth isn’t something we arrive at. It’s something we cultivate and nurture all of our lives. 

Whereas developing our self-confidence comes easier for most people. We can accomplish goals, acquire credentials and accolades, make pretty things, build businesses, and save the day for our friends and families. All of which add value to our lives. But, take away the accolades and pats on the back. Are you just as special? Hopefully, the answer is yes. However, for a lot of us, the answer is no. Hence the need to work on and invest energy into developing our self-worth. 

Developing and strengthening your self-worth will add substantial value to your life. Far more than any award or accomplishment ever could! 

Here are some ways to increase your self-worth:

  • This is going to sound so simple, but how about starting with acknowledging that no one, and I mean no one is without error in their life. The way we respond sometimes is as if we are expecting ourselves to live perfect lives. Which is completely unreasonable and unfair. In other words, decide to be kinder to yourself. If you wouldn’t say the things you think about yourself to your friend, then don’t you dare say it to you!

  • On that note, another trick is mirror talk. Look in the mirror, hair uncombed, fresh out of bed, and encourage yourself. You can start with you’re doing a great job! You are incredibly thoughtful. Your sense of humor is a gift. You enhance the spaces you occupy. You are special and beautiful from the inside out. Or whatever you need to say to yourself to increase the fondness you show for yourself. You can take it one step further and write it on your mirror with a dry-erase marker. Or do as I do and list these helpful reminders on sticky notes and tape them to your bathroom mirror. Then whether it is a good or bad day you are encouraging yourself. 

  • Another trick to increasing your self-worth is forgiving yourself for the times you fell short. The times you were a flawed human and hurt yourself or others. To forgive yourself is an important step in taking care of yourself and demonstrating that you are valuable. It acknowledges that you can make mistakes, and come to believe that you are still deserving of kindness and love. Flaws and all.

How do you demonstrate appreciation for you? Do you consider yourself worthy of gentleness and care? You do? Great! How do you show it? Hopefully, you honor your boundaries, prioritize your needs,  and accept your imperfections. And, hopefully, when you make a mistake you don’t beat yourself up. 

But, instead, you assess the mistake, make applicable amends, and continue to work on doing better. Hopefully, you are in relationships with people who value you and demonstrate that they do. Hopefully, you’re paying attention to what fuels your soul and working to experience more of it at every turn. All of which reflects someone who understands themself to be worthy of the best! Regardless of title or accomplishments. 

When we do the work to purposefully increase our self-worth we experience life differently. We have more experiences and interactions that align with our values. We most certainly laugh and smile more. And spend less time thinking about the ways we messed up. Which I know from personal experience feels horrible! And we spend more time having self-serving thoughts that prevent us from additional pain. 

Let me add this one caveat. It’s important to not behave as if we aren’t ever to be held accountable. We must own our stuff, and work to grow as a person. And sometimes seek forgiveness from others. What shouldn’t occur is the psychological self-abuse of ruminating on our mistakes. When we accept our shortcomings and work to be better, it is a form of gentleness that shows self-worth.

This will require daily work. Sometimes really hard work. And some days dependent upon the disappointment, heartache, and embarrassment it's going to be a fight to remind yourself that your self-worth isn’t washed up because of the circumstances. So, I encourage you on those days to remind yourself of who you are. Not, what you’ve done. But who you are. I don’t know who’s reading this. But whoever is reading this, you are an individual worthy of experiencing the best of life. And potentially someone who needs to learn more about themselves to fully understand and appreciate who they are. There are so many ways to discover this. We would of course encourage you to begin exploring your soul, perhaps through journaling. So that you can get a lot clearer on what makes you special. And be able to see how amazing you really are. 

For a little guidance along the way, be sure to pick up the book WORTHY by Jamie Kern Lima. It will undoubtedly help you better understand how we lose our self-worth, help you understand why you are worthy, and show you how and what to do to increase your self-worth! So that you feel the impacts of valuing yourself! Isn’t it about time that you do?


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