I get it. There was a time in my life before I began my own journey of personal development when I didn’t recognize my own value. 

I thought my value was in being a good daughter, wife, mother, and urgent care nurse – and even then I felt I was mostly failing at those things, regardless of how much I tried. 

Of course, there is value in these things that society tells us are important. And – I had so much more than that to offer. More to offer myself and more to offer others. Yet, anything more was just completely off my radar. 

Recognizing your value is essential to elevating your self-image and creating the life that you dream of. 

As sentient beings, we all have inherent value. The fact that we’re alive, are conscious, and serve a biological function means that our existence matters. In ethical philosophy, there is also the idea that our lives are sacred and worth preserving. 

While most people agree that human life is valuable, not all of us recognize our individual worth and the contributions we make to the world. 

The value we assign to ourselves is mainly determined by our self-worth. Unlike self-esteem, our self-worth is about who we are as people and the extent to which we consider ourselves to have intrinsic value. It’s got nothing to do with other people and our tendency to compare and compete with them.    

It’s easy to see someone else’s value, especially those we admire and love. But when last did you consider your worthiness as a unique human being? When did you last consider the value of what you bring to the world – a value worth so much than the sum of your societal labels (wife, mother, sister, daughter, employee, neighbor, friend).

Why Do We Have to Recognize Our Value? 

We tend to think that our success is limited because of a lack of money, time, and energy, but this is not necessarily true. Without even realizing it, our lack of self-worth is often the biggest roadblock on our path to living a fulfilling life.  

When we don’t recognize our value, we sell ourselves short and settle for less than we deserve. As a result, we might stay in unhealthy relationships, accept poor treatment from our boss or another authority figure, and never end up asking for what we want and need.

Have you ever read or watched a movie about someone who gave away, sold, or lost something they didn’t know was worth a fortune? Hollywood has produced countless stories about artifacts that were forgotten and left in a dusty chest or a precious stone that was mistaken for a counterfeit. And how frustrating when we know the value of the item, yet the people in the story are entirely oblivious? We want to yell, “No!” when a ring is pawned for the value of a bagel or the pages of an ancient book are torn out by a toddler.   

It comes down to knowledge and awareness: if you don’t know your value, you cannot treat yourself as the precious gift you are.  

What Makes Us Valuable? 

We like to say things like, “everyone’s special” or “we are all unique,” and yet we don’t always live in line with that conviction. And while these sayings have become cliches, they are still true. 

Each of us has a unique makeup of skills, gifts, and experiences. Although many people might be equally as talented at playing the piano, those people haven’t had your experiences, and they don’t have the same personality as you. Therefore, what you offer the world is something else entirely. 

Perhaps you think you’re “ordinary,” but there is no such thing. You bring a unique energy to every room you enter and every person you engage. 

That’s why it’s essential to stay true to who you are rather than trying to copy someone else. Sure, we draw inspiration from others all the time, but we shouldn’t attempt to become replicas of them. We must put our own signature on everything we do.

How Can You Start Recognizing Your Value? 

Now that I’ve covered why we are all valuable, it’s time to explore your personal value. Here’s how you can start:

Forget Shallow Labels 

As natural as it might seem to measure your value by your income, physical appearance, job title, or social media popularity, these things do not determine your value and self-worth. Because these aspects of your life can change at any moment, it’s more useful to consider transcendental values such as compassion, generosity, leadership, respect, and kindness. 

Don’t Let Your Inner Critic Rule Your Thoughts

We all have an inner voice that points out our flaws and failures. Whenever you begin criticizing yourself, stop and pause for a minute. Consider the merit of what this voice is telling you. Is what you hear an objective fact? Is it useful and kind? If the answer is no, then this commentary is not worth paying attention to!

Take Ownership

You alone are responsible for your self-worth. Regardless of other people’s words, thoughts, and opinions about you, you can still choose how you view yourself. What matters is not what others think about you but what you think about yourself. Don’t wait for people to validate you – validate and affirm yourself. Do it with your internal dialogue, your words to others,  and your actions. Treat yourself with the love and care you’d give to any precious person or object. 

Forgive Yourself

We all mess up sometimes – it’s part of being human. But when you do, you must forgive yourself and let it go. It’s easy to extend kindness and forgiveness to others, but you have to do yourself the same favor. There’s no point in worrying about your mistakes or fretting over the not-so-good decisions from the past. Self-compassion is about believing that you are worthy of love regardless of what you do or fail to do. 

Celebrate Your Uniqueness 

Consider the things that make you different and embrace them. Take stock of your gifts, skills, experiences, and personality traits, and take some time to think about the best parts of you. What compliments do people give you, and in what areas have you achieved something significant? Taking inventory of your strengths will help you grow in confidence and shrug off negative feedback. 

Be Confident About Your Own Thoughts and Feelings

When you value yourself and put a high price on your inherent worth, you consider your thoughts and emotions with kindness and consideration. Instead of second-guessing yourself and what you’re experiencing, pay careful attention to explore where a thought or feeling comes from. Your thoughts and feelings are valid.     

The World Needs You and the Very Special Value that Only You Can Offer

There will never be another one of you. There might be others with similar interests or skills, but no one will ever have the unique combination of attributes that you have. This is an encouraging thought. Only you can fulfill your role in the world, no one else. Each of us has a responsibility to be our most authentic selves and offer others our unique brand of self.