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Many references consider self worth to be synonymous with self esteem. It is defined as the quality of deserving respect or high regard for oneself. Self worth denotes an overall measure of how much a person values or gives priority to his or her own needs and fulfillment. It can also mean a favorable opinion of oneself. However, for some, self worth is different from self esteem. It is a separate concept that can be thought of as a portal through which self esteem is obtained. There are claims that self worth, as a concept, was only recognized more than three centuries after the idea of self esteem was established. Nevertheless, disregarding the technical differences, it can be inferred that in general self worth means something positive. It is something that should be nurtured.
Self worth is the unconditional love for the self. It entails acceptance—the acceptance of one’s entirety as a person. It is the acceptance of both the positive and the negative. It is the acceptance that flaws in a person are inevitable and the least one can do is to live life to the fullest. Comparing it to other similar concepts such as pride and self confidence, self worth is something more important that must exist for a person to live an existence he or she would deem worth living. One can live a life that can be considered worthy without necessarily possessing self confidence or a sense of pride. In the absence of self worth though, a person is bound to disregard the self not as an act of selflessness but in the sense of deep self deprecation or self hatred.
Comparable to the foundation of a structure, self worth is a fundamental quality. It forms the basic building block of a person’s self regard. It is the base on which self confidence, esteem, respect, pride, dignity, and other personality development ideals are stably mounted. As mentioned earlier, it is a “must” for a person. It not only complements but is integral to self acceptance. It doesn’t have to mean appreciation. The acknowledgment of one’s existence and value is enough for self worth to be present. Putting it more emphatically, self worth is the antithesis of suicidal ideation. Self worth prevents the self from devaluing and harming the self. Self worth brings people to caring for and perhaps appreciating themselves better.
There is no complicated or sophisticated science or accounting procedures involved in nurturing self worth. It can be as basic as putting two words to work: acceptance and love. While it stands for the openness to one’s good and bad sides, it does not mean totally disregarding the flaws in oneself. Rather, it means accepting flaws and doing something about them to prevent them from becoming personal hindrances. On the other hand, love—ideally the unconditional kind—has to exist for a person to realize his value to himself and to society. Interestingly, love comes not only from external sources. A person can both love others and himself.
Feelings of being alone, abandoned, neglected, unwelcomed, or unappreciated cannot thrive in the presence of self worth as it establishes a solid personal belief that one’s existence is important despite anything that would state otherwise. One can achieve pride from accomplishing a great feat, but self worth does not need any reason or point of origin for the individual to feel good about him- or herself. Moreover, nurturing self worth does not come in conflict with the desirable trait of selflessness. Instead, it is a precursor. Showing concern for others would seem improbable or insincere in the absence of self worth.
Understanding self worth is an important part of living. Nurturing it enables a better appreciation of existence and a stronger sense of dignity. Putting it in a simile, self worth is like the people and government of a nation. Without them, a territory—no matter how vast—cannot be called a nation and will easily fall to conquerors.
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