I have had the privilege in my life to know a few people with a deep sense of self-worth. What I saw was the following traits they had in common in their relationship to others and themselves: a sincere and genuine kindness, a readiness to be of service and a lack of negative judgments.
This led me to really ponder on where self-worth comes from and how we get it. What I have concluded is that self-worth is acquired by how we treat others, what we do for them and how we do it. Let me explain this.
Originally, we develop our self-worth as a child from either the messages we receive from our parents such as: “you are important to us, you matter to us, we have confidence in you” or by their actions: a smile, a look of admiration, a gentle touch of affection, a special attention to our needs for help or attention. All of this fosters a secure and positive sense of attachment. On the other hand, regular criticism, (“why can’t you be like your brother, what’s wrong with you”), a label of some kind of disorder, broken promises, a look of disgust, disappointment or exasperation may create a lack of security about our own acceptability, desirability and therefore worth as a person.
Similarly, as adults, we also get our self-worth from relationships however, this time, it’s not from what we get from others, but more from what we give to others.