Understanding your self-worth | Shereen Hoban

Telling our friends or loved ones to value themselves is something that usually comes easily to us, so why is it so hard for us to apply the same logic to ourselves? Self-worth is something that cannot be undervalued. It’s fundamental to help us make the right decisions – whether that’s in our personal or professional lives.

I work as an executive business coach with men and women who want to take control of their careers, be that through professional development and promotion or via an entrepreneurial venture. Despite having ambition and drive, a lot of women (and men) I encounter have low self-worth. It can have a huge impact on your decision-making abilities and the course of action you take in all areas in your life. Giving people the tools they need to get the best out of themselves is one of the cornerstones of my coaching practice, and what better place to start than with self-worth?

What is self-worth?

Self-worth is fundamentally how much we value ourselves and our right to things like happiness, health, wealth and success. It’s rooted in our understanding of ourselves and how well we love and accept ourselves – flaws and all. Essentially our self-worth is a state of being that is ultimately how we view ourselves despite what others may do, say or think. It’s the foundation we build ourselves upon. Because of this, our self-worth has the potential to transform our lives for the better. A lot of my work taps into building this sense of self-worth up, so that my clients can bring about positive changes in their lives.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem is a projection of how you feel about yourself at any given moment and the fundamental difference is that it’s often based on your actions. Self-esteem is a bit more fluid. It may change according to circumstances. For example, if you’ve made a mistake or had some negative feedback your sense of self-esteem may be temporarily wounded. Self-esteem is more vulnerable to outside circumstances so things, like losing a job or falling out with a friend, can sometimes make us wobble and question ourselves, but if you have a strong foundation of self-worth from the start, it’s always easier to get back onto the proverbial horse and keep riding.

Likewise, if you do something positive like helping someone cross the road or volunteer at a local group, your sense of self-esteem can soar.

Why Self Worth Equals Self Respect

Having a strong sense of your own worth informs us on so many levels. From knowing how to negotiate our salaries or fees to choosing a life partner that will love and respect us, to make decisions that are going to make us happy – our self-worth plays a vital role in all of these scenarios. That’s why if you have a stable and strong sense of self-worth you can ultimately lead a life that’s more fulfilling – on your terms and more true to what you want to get out of it.

Career Essential

No matter what industry you work in or what career you have, if you understand your self-worth it means you’re in a much better position to be your own best advocate. Broken down simply, your self-worth comprises of what you value about yourself, what you think you’re good at, what you think you have to offer people and what your values are. Imagine going to an interview without feeling sure of what you can offer – scary right? Without self-worth, the world becomes an intimidating place. If you’re not sure just where you are on the self-worth scale, then ask yourself these simple questions and answer yes or no.

Do you believe that you are good enough?

Do you know what your values are?

Do you ever feel like you should lower your fees?

Do you see yourself as equal to the people you interact with?

Do you have positive self-esteem?

If you answered mostly yes, then your self worth is likely to be in pretty good shape, but if you answered mostly no, then there’s definitely some work to do to build it up.

How to build your sense of self-worth

Building your self-worth is a process. It’s not something that can happen overnight. It’ll take time and practice, but these five simple steps are certainly ones that help many of my clients.

1. Understand who you are

Everyone’s self-worth is based upon who they fundamentally think they are as a person, so inevitably the first step to building your self-worth concerns getting to know who you are, on a deep and profound level.

Understanding what you like, what you dislike, what talents you have and what makes you happy as a person is vital.

Stripping things back to basics, why not start by imagining that all you had in the world was yourself. No money, career, house etc. Then ask yourself what would you have left, that has value?

2. Accepting who you are

No one is perfect, however knowing that means it’s ok to have faults, flaws and things about ourselves that require improvement. If we want to understand ourselves we need to look at the full picture. Ask yourself what your weaknesses are? Do you procrastinate? Are you indecisive? Do you use your money wisely? Looking at our behaviour objectively gives us a picture of our default natures. Once we have an idea about what our nature is like, we can work on making changes and evolving our personal development. Accepting yourself as human, as a work in progress, as someone with learned behaviours who has ups and downs, enables you to be more sympathetic, and ultimately more accepting of yourself.

After all, it’s OK to be human.

3. Loving who you are

Learning to love who you are is actually really difficult sometimes. It seems self-congratulatory to love ourselves but self-love is absolutely vital for you to have a sense of self-worth. Compassion comes from love and love comes from understanding and having empathy for ourselves.

To get started, write a list of some of the things you love about yourself.

Maybe you have a great sense of humour or are a fantastic friend. Write them down, you’ll soon start seeing you have a lot to offer.

4. Recognising your value

Recognising that you have value comes from understanding yourself and accepting who you are. When you get to a point where you are practising self-love and self-compassion every day, you can start to feel the shift in your sense of self-worth.

This stage is exciting, and when my clients reach it they start to have something of a personal epiphany. Instead of letting other people, events or scenarios define them, they are instead of defining themselves. And that sense of control over yourself is extremely empowering.

5. Taking the power back

This last stage involves taking back the power in your day-to-day life. Questioning whether you’re valuing yourself enough. Whether that’s re-evaluating who you spend your time with (who makes you happy), to how much of a raise you ask for at your next review, once your self-worth is thoroughly installed you can use it to make better decisions for yourself, in all areas of your life. It’s about taking responsibility for yourself, your happiness and your self-worth.

I use mindfulness techniques a lot in my work, and I’d advise anyone to spend just a few minutes each day mindfully noticing their inner voice and noting what that says about your sense of self-worth.


Shereen Hoban is an executive business coach and entrepreneurial coach. Find out more about her coaching services and programmes  or join her Launch & Thrive Facebook Community for Women Entrepreneurs.

Women@Work Coach -
05 Sep 2018