How To Develop and Raise Your Self-Worth

In my previous article, I talked about the process with which we acquire our self-worth. In this one, I want to delve into the details of the process of undoing some of that past conditioning to improve and raise our self-worth. 

Know thyself

  1. This advice is as old as time itself. The most fundamental of all self-improvement journeys. Knowing your own self. 
    What this does is tells you who you are — intrinsically and what value you can create in the world for yourself and for others. This creates the base of all your efforts in life.
  2. One of the key aspects of knowing yourself is to recognise and listen to the patterns of your inner voice. The little voice in your head that is constantly narrating your day (and your life), constantly telling you what you can and can’t do, telling you how you are going to fail, how you shouldn’t do anything bold and risky and encouraging you to always take the known path — that little voice — which is not so little after all.
  3. In order to (truly) know yourself, you must be willing to question yourself and everything you carry as truth. You must be willing to let go and reassess every idea and notion you hold about yourself and how the world operates. In the words of Apple’s marketing team, that we hear every year; “building from the ground up”.
  4. For me, this didn’t happen until perhaps I was 30 years old. It is a bit late in life but some folks never have the realisation. It wasn’t until then that I truly started to understand my motivations, fears, aspirations, true likes and dislikes — and that is when my life started to transform — an inner transformation — in the true sense of the word. 

Actions — DO:

  • Start spending more time with yourself and less with everyone else.
  • Start observing your thoughts — either in the form of silent meditation or journalising — ideally both (meditation followed by journaling).
  • Start noticing all the things you take for granted — keep a daily list — you will be surprised.
  • Start questioning all your assumptions and beliefs about the world and yourself — including your religion, all your biases, your privileges, your patriotism, your (perceived) superiorities and your inferiorities. Question everything and ask yourself why do you believe it? What is the source of this truth? Is it internal to you or external?

Accept yourself — stop resisting your nature

  1. Once you get a better understanding of who you are and what you truly desire the next step is to start working with your true nature.
  2. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. If you are naturally inclined towards something then do that. Stop trying to push too hard in the opposite direction. If you are just learning to swim then don’t try to do it upstream. Set your own expectations for yourself and don’t follow societal constraints of wealth, status and life. 
    This is hard to do and even harder to realise that you are following societal expectations and not following our own true desires. Fish do not know they are in the water — only when they are out of it do they realise it.
  3. Once you accept yourself, only then you can start to transform yourself and make a real effort towards your true goals.

Actions — DO:

  • Stop complaining — about everything — out loud obviously but even in your thoughts. Complaining is a way of feeling superior where you are not. It is also a way of reinforcing a sense of helplessness. One of them is an underlying reason for your complaints.
  • I use a simple counter app for this. Every time I complain in speech or thought, I add +1. At the end of the day, I tally the score. The goal is always to be less than yesterday and the ultimate goal is to be at zero.
  • Stop judging yourself and others and stop comparing yourself. Just be.

Take care of yourself

  1. One of the most underrated aspects of living a good life and raising your self-worth is taking care of yourself.
  2. You and only you are responsible for your happiness and wellbeing. Not your family, not your community, not your government, not your employer, not your teachers or preachers. You are responsible for yourself and your growth, wellbeing and prosperity. Start taking ownership of your life and stop blaming everything that is out of your control. Until you realise this, you cannot move on and make progress. Yes sometimes we are in situations that impact us greatly that we cannot control (war, natural disasters, a global pandemic etc) but how we choose our response to these events is totally within our control. (Watch this video I made that addresses choice and control. You can also read this previous article on this topic).
  3. Another way of taking care of yourself is by changing your environment and taking care of your energy and mental health. As mentioned in the previous article, if you are surrounded by negative people who do not appreciate your efforts, you may find it hard to do so yourself which can often lead to a compromised self-wroth. 
    If possible and within your control — change your environment. Change the circle of friends who are not supportive. Change the people you spend time with. And remember it’s better to be in solitude than being with the wrong people. Read books instead, listen to podcasts, audiobooks — make some of the best authors in the world your friends and spend time ‘listening’ to them.

Actions — DO:

  • Self-care is vital to living a meaningful life. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. I have written and spoken in great detail about this.
  • Watch this video
  • Read this article
  • Read good quality books on psychology, philosophy and self-help to learn more about the world. Visit this link to find top book recommendations.
  • Put your own mask first before helping others.

Change your inner voice

  1. Once you have done all the above-mentioned steps, it is now time to change that inner voice by actively choosing a more proactive and positive language with yourself.
  2. People often undersell themselves. Make fun of themselves before anyone else does to deal with the potential anxiety. Set limitations and expectations around themselves in front of others — these are coping mechanisms. They are protecting themselves from (potential, imagined) criticism. Stop it. Instead, step into your greatness. Make a social contract. Let the pressure build and compel you to do more.
  3. Imagine talking to your friends, or spouse or even your mum the way you talk to yourself — you will soon find, to your surprise, you will be left with no friends, looking for a divorce lawyer and rudely written out of mum’s will.
  4. Catch yourself in dialogue with yourself as often as possible, set a reminder on your phone multiple times a day if you have to.
  5. The goal here is to catch the negative self-talk and turn it into positive self-talk — the voice of encouragement as opposed to the voice of reason and fear.

Identify your competencies and develop them

  1. Make a list of all the things you are good at, it doesn’t matter how small or inconsequential they may be. Everyone is good at something. Do you know how to make a killer peanut butter and jam sandwich? Chuck it on the list. If you are being supercritical and find it super hard to come up with much then go to a trusted confidant (spouse, sibling, friend, teacher) and ask them to tell you what they think you are good at. The goal of this exercise is:
  • To tell you that in spite of all your negative self-talk and lowered self-worth you are still good at many many things.
  • To make you realise, if you are good at these, you can be good at other things too  — with practice and some guidance you can perhaps be great at many things.
  • Develop a baseline from which you propel yourself to feel good about existing competencies and inspire motivation and action to become better at others. Ultimately valuing yourself higher. All in effect, to raise your self-worth.

2. Even if you have been rejected or failed at something in the past (getting a job, getting a date, a business) list out all the skills you have and can acquire to be successful at it in the future were you to try again.

Own the praise that comes your way

  1. When you view yourself as not worthy then dealing with praise is hard — you question the honesty and intention of the person offering you the praise.
  2. But if you have identified yourself as being competent at things (hopefully many things), that should make this step slightly easier.
  3. If someone praises you for something then verify it internally and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Don’t reject it straight away. And add this quality to your (growing) list of competencies from the previous point.
  4. Accepting praise and feeling worthy of it will help you shine and step into your greatness.
  5. It will encourage you to do better and further improve yourself. It will create a snowball effect.

Let Action Define Self-Worth

Self-wroth is mostly about reflections. What the world reflects back at you. So, what you put out there in the world is what will be reflected back. You may feel insecure, unworthy and devalued but it is important to push through these and make the efforts and contributions that you want — consistently. It feeds the loop and reinforces the positive feedback.

Often people misunderstand that action is the result of motivation. It’s not. Motivation is fleeting. It’s not consistent. It comes on its whims and leaves when it wants. Action on the other hand can be consistent. Action precedes motivation and can summon motivation at will. Through consistency, action can inspire motivation. Similarly, action can precede self-wroth. Your positive actions can make you value yourself higher.

In the end

Do all the above-mentioned steps consistently for 60 days and on the other side of the 60 days will be a brand new version of you. A much better version with a completely new understanding of the world and of yourself.

Imagine a world where everyone lives to their fullest potential. Can you imagine the possibilities of health, happiness, wealth and innovation where everyone realises their wildest dreams? 
Raise your self-wroth and become worthy of the success you seek and live to your fullest potential.

Now go and be awesome.