Self-Worth v. Self-Love
While self-worth and self-love are closely linked, there are some critical differences. Without a solid sense of self-worth, there’s no possible way to cultivate genuine and lasting self-love. Life Coach, Christine Arylo, aptly describes self-worth as the root system of a tree and self-love as the trunk and branches.
Unlike self-love, our sense of self-worth is almost wholly formed in childhood — some experts suggest that it is shaped as early as 5 years old (see Louise Hay‘s You Can Heal Your Life). We internalize the models of treatment that we receive from our parents or caretakers. If we were loved and supported mentally, emotionally, and physically, then we continue to give that same love and support to ourselves throughout our adult lives. We believe we deserve the love and support — it’s not even a question! On the other hand, if we experience excessive criticism, judgment, or physical, emotional, or mental neglect or abuse, we tend to recreate that low standard of self-treatment throughout our lives. We don’t have the same sense of entitlement to self-worth — it’s questioned and doubted on a very deep, possibly subconscious level. Perhaps most of all, self-worth is just not felt in the body. Instead, there’s often an underlying yet pervasive sense of emptiness or lack, like some key ingredient for feeling genuine joy and love is missing.
The wound of low self-worth can be incredibly painful and debilitating, especially if we realize it’s been handed down to us by the parents/caretakers whom we would expect to love and care for us most. With low self-worth, we just don’t feel as worthy as others around us — not as naturally confident, lovable, happy, smart, attractive, successful, not as mentally, physically, or emotionally healthy. The feeling of “less than” can be so ingrained that it actually feels normal to live in a constant state of self-doubt and deficiency and can ultimately show up under the guise of depression, anxiety, social anxiety, unhealthy relationships, co-dependence, boundary issues, apathy, chronic fatigue, weight or body image struggles, etc.
The Top 3 Things You Need to Know to Begin Healing Low Self-Worth:
- As mentioned above, low self-worth comes primarily from programming and conditioning received in childhood. We receive the message that we’re not good enough or that there’s something wrong with us — that, for some reason, we’re just not lovable as we are. The good news is that we can totally heal and rewrite this programming. As foreign or awkward as it may feel, we have to go back to that small child and re-parent her. We have to ask what she needs and give her all of the encouragement, love, and stability that she craves! That small child never leaves us. In fact, all of the versions of ourselves that we live across different ages and phases of our lives stay with us on an emotional level. Early childhood wounding can cause some of the deepest emotional hurts, and we have to actually FEEL these hurts in order to heal them and truly release them from our bodies, hearts, and minds. While the task might sound totally undesirable, it doesn’t have to be as dark or long or daunting as we may think. Old hurts can be processed and released through journaling, guided meditation, confiding in a supportive friend or family member, therapy, or somatic (body-centered) therapy. Perhaps more than focusing on the dread of processing old feelings, we want to celebrate the fact that we’re finally holding space and compassion for that little child who has likely remained unheard and unacknowledged for decades.
- Understand that you did absolutely nothing wrong, and re-frame/shift your story around the core wounding. Low self-worth is the personalizing and internalizing of your parents’/caretakers’ issues. Their criticism or distance or mistreatment had absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own issues or limitations. In order to heal, you have to separate yourself from their shortcomings and really process that their failures have nothing to do with your worth. Let any past or present expectation of your parent(s) go. Give yourself the love and worth that you so totally deserve. You don’t need to depend on parents or any other external source to give you a sense of worthiness or enoughness, and it’s never too late to heal and begin feeling full of worth and value and lovability — in fact, we really can’t do the healing soon enough!
- Stop comparing yourself to others, and practice RADICAL self-acceptance instead. In a spiritual, eternal, and universal sense, no one is EVER any better or any worse than anyone else. Full and total worthiness is our birthright. We all come into this world as 100% worthy and equal beings, and there is nothing you can ever do to compromise this — there is no mistake you can make or wrong you can commit or circumstance you can suffer that makes you any less than any other human being. Your self-worth always remains 100% intact, no matter what. Accept this, and accept yourself radically. I use the term “radical” because, for so many of us, we are so low in worthiness that we need to catapult the self-worth-o-meter all the way from empty to full! So, yes, RADICAL self-acceptance TODAY. Accept yourself as worthy, worthy, worthy of everything you dream of in this life and more. There is no person more or less worthy than you!
Healing the core wound of low self-worth was ESSENTIAL in my personal development and had the greatest immediate impact on my happiness. Finally diagnosing the wound and RELEASING the pain I had been carrying for some 35 years was a HUGE relief. I went from constant self-doubt and insecurity and discomfort in my own body to a feeling of total wholeness and confidence — almost overnight. I wish this fundamental healing for anyone who has ever felt the pain of self-worth wounding. It is an excellent starting place for anyone eager to begin a process of personal development or transformation. Please feel free to ask questions or share experiences!
Love and Blessings,