Have you at some point in life asked yourself, Am I worth it? I know it is an easy question to come by in our jobs, relationships, personal goals and ambitions. Self-worth is a feeling of confidence in yourself that you are a good and a useful person. Everyone needs to belong. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs theory postulates that the third basic human need after physiological and safety needs is the need for love and belonging. Naturally, as human beings, we often involuntarily seek approval from the people in our lives, our peers, and our communities, in a bid to satisfy our need to belong. The self-worth Theory (Covington,1992, 1998; Covington & Beery, 1976) views the self as the central axis of human existence and the anchor as well as a source of meaning for one’s beliefs aspirations and deeds. Self-worth theory suggests that individuals strive to give their lives meaning by seeking the approval of others (Wentzel & Miele, 2016) We need to be seen as capable able and competent

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Wondering how you can improve your self-worth? Here are three ways on how to improve self-worth

Cultivating Unconditional self-worth

Adia Gooden in her ted talk at DePaul University shared four ways in which we can learn to cultivate unconditional self-worth.

Most of the time, we put ourselves through a lot because we do not accept who we are. We fail to understand that we are valuable just the way we are. You are worthy and enough. When you realize this and start practicing self-compassion, accept yourself, and show up for yourself, then you will feel the sense of self-worth. Cultivating Unconditional self-worth requires personal effort, commitment, and persistence.

Seek a deeper understanding of who you are


A deep sense of Self-awareness is a significant component in building your self-worth. To get to a deep sense of understanding, you have to ask yourself probing questions. For instance.

Who am I?

What am I not?

How do other people see me?

What do I struggle with most?

How can I positively deal with that?

What are the fears that hold me back?

What are my strengths, abilities, and competences?

Being honest and finding answers to these questions is a great start. However, is finding answers enough? Of course not. The actual power in knowledge lies in putting it into use. Committing to using your answers to make a positive transition in redefining your self-worth is powerful. The central tenet of Acceptance and Commitment Theory derives its practicality from six principals:

Cognitive Defusion – Learning to perceive thoughts, images, memories, and other cognitions as they are rather than what they may appear to be. You could have skewed perception of how you look because of what people say about you while in the real sense you look good and attractive

Acceptance – Is creating room to accommodate unpleasant emotions, urges, and sensations as opposed to suppressing them. Acceptance eases the struggle. When you embrace the unpleasant feelings, they get a bit bearable

Being present – Bringing full awareness to your here-and-now experience, with openness, interest, and receptiveness; focusing on and engaging fully in whatever you are doing. (Harris, 2007)

Observing the self – Accessing the absolute self in the present time consciously avoiding, negativity, or harm of any kind.

Values – Defining the kind of person you want to be and clarifying what you stand for. Awareness of what really matters to you and how that will influence who you want to be

Committed to action – setting goals, guided by your values, and taking effective action to achieve them. (Harris, 2007)

These principles draw a clear path that leads to self-redefinition through personal effort. Seek a deeper understanding of yourself and commit to walking the journey towards a high sense of self-worth.

Build your Resilience


A resilient person has the emotional strength and capability to overcome negative emotions that are mostly inevitable while navigating through life’s challenges. In her Ted Talk, Lucy Hone shares her go-to resilience strategies. Resilient people understand that suffering is part of life, and that way, they know what to do when they face tough times. Resilient people manage to focus on things they can change and accept things they can’t change. Resilient people ask themselves, is this helping or harming me?

Generally, building resilience will ingest some positivity into your emotional state and help you recover from a lot of negative emotions brought about but a low sense of self.

Bach, P. & Hayes, Steven C. (2002). The use of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to prevent the rehospitalisation of psychotic patients: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 1129–1139.

Covington, M. V. (1984). The self-worth theory of achievement motivation: Findings and implications. The elementary school journal, 85(1), 5-20.

Wentzel, K. R., & Miele, D. B. (2016). Overview K AT H RY NR. WENTZEL AND DAV IDB. MIELE. In Handbook of Motivation at School (pp. 13-20). Routledge.

Written by Kibagendi Jairus


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