Self Worth. How to embrace our infinite worth
Self esteem is overrated. For a while I* thought that was the goal - a robust self esteem. I used to despair that my self esteem was so low and that my harsh inner critic was the dominant voice in my head all day every day. So I tried working on my self esteem - on believing I was beautiful, talented, and generally amazing.
It helped. Some. But it was when I started to really focus on self love and compassion that things really began to shift. Why?
Focusing on self esteem is like trying to get a tree to produce better fruit by only focusing on the fruit. I notice that my apple trees are producing small, tasteless apples, so I try spraying different concoctions on the apples. It doesn’t do much. But when I focus on the tree - on the roots - on nourishing them, on strengthening them, over time, the tree flourishes and produces plentiful and delicious fruit.
Self worth is the tree. It is the foundation. And nourishing it - that fertilizer, water, and sunshine - that is self-understanding, self love, and self compassion. The fruits are inner peace, joy, and yes, self esteem. And so much more.
Self-worth is believing that you’re fundamentally worthy as you are right now. It is loving and accepting yourself completely. Self-esteem is feeling good about aspects of yourself - aspects that are changeable.
There are inherent risks associated with focus on self esteem over self worth. If I have self esteem/confidence in my looks, or my intellect, or my accomplishments, then what happens when those things change? I lose that confidence. Yet when I am aware of my infinite worth, then whatever aspects of me change, I still know that my worth is immutable.
Another risk of seeking to develop high self esteem without self worth is that it can lead to narcissistic tendencies. Our confidence becomes toxic - judgmental and selfish. We project our deep sense of low worth onto others, trying to pull them down. Yet, when rooted in self worth, we then inherently understand the infinite worth of others. We see others as we see ourselves.
So self-esteem is ideally a consequence, or the fruit of self worth. When rooted this way, self-esteem can ebb and flow. We can have confidence in ourselves in various capacities, and be happy and peaceful regardless. We can better accept when our looks, abilities, and social status inevitably change.
As Dr. Christina Hibbert explains:
Self-esteem is what we think and feel and believe about ourselves. Self-worth is recognizing ‘I am greater than all of those things.’ It is a deep knowing that I am of value, that I am loveable, necessary to this life, and of incomprehensible worth.
Here are some possible signs of limited awareness of your self worth. As with any aspect of emotional healing, these exist on a spectrum and healing is cyclical not linear. I myself have gone rounds through all of these and back.
Consider the following:
You struggle to assert boundaries.
You struggle to speak up and be assertive about your needs.
You also may not know what your true needs are.
Comparison/ Self Doubt
You suffer from frequent or constant self-doubt.
You’re cynical about the value of what you do.
You can’t accept compliments without feeling embarrassed/skeptical.
You say things like, “I’m just a ____.” (mom, or some other role).
You are scared of sharing your authentic self with the world.
You experience jealousy.
You often feel like an impostor, especially when positioned as having authority or wisdom.
How you feel depends on how much attention and validation you receive from others, or in particular one person such as your parent, boss, or significant other.
This can also manifest as basing how you feel on how many likes or comments you receive on social media.
You struggle to believe that anyone could really love you.
You settle for less in relationships and jobs thinking it’s the best you’ll ever get.
You value other people’s opinions above your own, struggling to make decisions based on your own opinions.
You always feel a sense of anxiety and tension around others.
You let others walk over or mistreat you.
You feel like a beggar, or a victim always being hurt, or like a dog being kicked and coming back for more.
You feel less valuable based on your relationship status, such as single or divorced.
You feel you need to do things to deserve your basic needs met.
You feel you have to “earn” your worth through achievements, or through being overly self sacrificing.
You always put others' needs above your own (behaving like a martyr).
You hesitate to give yourself basic self care like adequate sleep and nourishment if you have not accomplished enough.
Does any of that sound familiar?
How is it that we come to struggle so much with self worth? In childhood, the fertile ground in which to develop the deep roots of self worth is unconditional love. However, if we experienced trauma, wounded caregivers, and/or have inherited generational patterns, this process would have been disrupted. Wounded caregivers may have had difficulty expressing unconditional love. Another disruption to cultivating self worth can also be being given limited chances to succeed and fail - to build resilience. This can come in the form of caregivers rescuing us at every turn. Their intention may actually have been to show love. However, when we are not given chances to fail and succeed ourselves, the internalized messaging actually becomes that we are incapable of what it takes - which takes a toll on our belief in our capacity to live as our highest self and in turn, our self worth.
So the key, regardless of the degree of struggle with self worth, is to reparent ourselves in adulthood - in essence, to give ourselves unconditional love and opportunities to fail and succeed. However, in adulthood the process takes more undoing. So how do we do this? How do we nourish self worth?
In my experience, there are a few key components to strengthening self worth. Essential oils** have been an amazing support for me throughout my healing journey. Consider the following.
Ask yourself - who am I without all my labels? Without the roles I play, the things I own, the social status I have - who am I? Imagine stripping away your titles - mom, wife, teacher - and consider who you are. Get to know yourself - your strengths, your passions, your very nature. There are a lot of tools available to us to help us more deeply connect with and understand our true selves. I have explored many. The most life changing of these for me has been energy profiling. Spend time with self, learning about yourself and enjoying your own company.
To support you:
Affirmation - “I know myself”
Use frankincense, the oil of Truth.
I struggled with self acceptance. I thought accepting myself was settling for character flaws and weaknesses that I did not want to remain with me. The truth is, self acceptance fills us with a powerful energy that allows us to create the shifts we want with much more ease. Acceptance is a gift that allows falsehoods to fall away and lets us consider the truth that remains. When we fight against what is, we use an enormous amount of emotional and spiritual energy for what we do not want - often inadvertently creating more of it in the process.
Consider a child you know, or perhaps your own childhood. What does it mean for a child to be fully seen and accepted? What happens when a child is not accepted, and then feels judgement and shame for who they are? Did this happen to you? What fruit did that lack of acceptance bring forth in your life?
When struggling with self acceptance it is common to compare ourselves with others. As you remember your divine worth, comparison fades. What we see in others is always a reflection of our true selves - what you envy in others is actually within you.
To support you:
Affirmation - “I completely love and accept myself.”
Use bergamot, the oil of self acceptance.
Affirmation - “I am on the path that is best for me”
Use pink pepper, the oil of intrinsic equality.
Self love and compassion:
Developing self love is essential to increasing our awareness of our divine worth. Self love is a high regard for one’s own well being and happiness - and it is built up over time. We build self love by engaging in acts of self compassion consistently, over time. We learn how to meet ourselves with kindness. We can choose to engage in small acts of self compassion and self care every day.
To support you:
Affirmation: I love myself
Use Rose, the oil of divine love.
Affirmation: I am worthy of infinite compassion.
Use Magnolia, the oil of compassion.
Self worth - maintaining and deepening it:
As we grow in understanding, acceptance and love for our own precious selves, we stop depending on other people, achievements, or other external factors for our self-worth. We continually develop a more complete understanding of our infinite value. Yet since healing is cyclical, we continue to do the work and ascend. Some of the work that has really helped me to deepen my awareness:
Gratitude - Take time regularly to appreciate how far you’ve come, and how so much has worked together for your benefit.
To support you:
Affirmation: “I am grateful for who I am right now.”
Use spikenard, the oil of gratitude.
Grace - Give yourself grace for the moments where you feel as though you’ve gone backwards and recognize the incredible capacity of your brain to retain neural pathways - and your amazing capacity to reprogram your brain.
To support you:
Affirmation: “I am teachable.”
Use wintergreen, the oil of surrender.
Stewardship - As you move through these cycles of healing, you will feel called to claim your power as the co-creator of your own life.
To support you:
Affirmation: “I am the creator of my life.”
Use ginger, the oil of empowerment.
Creativity - With healing comes the awareness that creativity is an integral spiritual need. You are divinely imbued with the desire and power to create. Nourish this- to allow your creative powers to be made manifest regularly.
To support you:
Affirmation: “I am abundantly creative and joyful.”
Use Tangerine, the oil of spontaneity.
Courage - Be intentional about growth. Push out of your comfort zone regularly and be the steward of your own development, rather than waiting for life to do it for you.
To support you:
Affirmation: “I am courageous.”
Use Cassia, the oil of self-assurance.
As we heal these wounds, we experience more of the fruits of self worth. Consider the following.
Fruits of deepening self worth:
You genuinely like yourself.
You’re comfortable with who you are. You celebrate your uniqueness.
You feel confident.
You experience fulfilling relationships
You see how you bring value to the lives of others (but you don’t depend on it to be validated).
You feel grateful.
When you make mistakes, you differentiate between what you’ve done and who you are. (I made a mistake vs I am a bad/worthless/terrible person).
You feel like an equal and a peer to others.
You properly value your time and services/business.
You have clear boundaries.
You know your values - you know what matters most to you.
You spend your time in fulfilling ways.
You can be vulnerable when you feel called to be, but you don’t have to be vulnerable for validation.
You give yourself space and grace for your emotions instead of engaging in toxic positivity.
You understand projection and mirroring - that our responses are always a reflection of our state. You recognize it in yourself and others.
You feel empowered.
You trust yourself and are able to lean into your intuition more frequently.
And in a beautiful ripple effect, your increasing self worth allows you to give others the gift of inspiration and example - your life becomes an invitation for others to deepen their self worth.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Comment below or message me. And if this has brought value to your life, please share it!
*As with everything I share, I am not an expert. I am simply a woman on her own healing journey sharing my ever deepening and expanding Truth.
**My suggestions and recommendations are based on doTERRA essential oils. Here's why.