Why Self-Worth Matters And How To Improve Yours

Updated April 5, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

A positive self-image, including a strong belief in one's abilities (self efficacy psychology), can be a crucial element of our mental health, helping us be kinder to ourselves, develop greater confidence, and be more receptive to love. Self-worth refers to our sense of self, our values, and why we are worthy of care, support, and compassion. With a healthy sense of self-worth, we’re often better situated to seize opportunities, develop a high level of self-esteem, and improve our mental well-being. If, however, you have trouble valuing yourself highly, there are several ways you can change your perspective and develop a healthier self-image. Below, we’re going to cover self-worth—its importance and how you can foster it in your life.  

It Can Be Hard To Give Ourselves Compassion At Times

What Is Self-Worth?

According to the American Psychological Association, self-worth is “an individual’s evaluation of himself or herself as a valuable, capable human being deserving of respect and consideration”. A healthy sense of self-worth can be valuable to our careers, relationships, and health. It is, however, something that many people, even highly successful people, struggle with. 


The Benefits Of Self-Worth

Having a strong sense of self-worth can help you in many facets of life. When you believe you’re deserving of good things, regardless of the circumstances, you may be more likely to ask for what you want, get things done, and nurture healthy relationships. The following are potential benefits of valuing yourself highly. 

Meet Your Needs

As we work towards achieving our goals, self-actualizing, or just living a healthy life, we typically have a running list of things that we must do or acquire. There are two ways to have your needs met. First, you can meet them yourself. To do that efficiently, you often must value yourself enough to justify putting in the effort to go after what you need.

The other way to meet your needs is to work with others. The truth is that even when you meet your own needs, there's almost always someone else involved. But it can be hard to ask for help if you don’t believe you deserve it. A high level of self-worth can act as a signal to yourself that you’re worthy of having your needs met. 

Solve Problems Confidently

Complications are going to arise in life, whether at work, at home, or in the community. When you experience hardship, a healthy sense of self-worth may help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. With a positive self-image, you may be more likely to accept the challenges life presents. You might be more confident in your abilities—and comfortable with the possibility of making mistakes, knowing that no matter what happens, you will still have value as a person.

Be More Decisive

Without a positive self-concept, you may doubt your knowledge or ability to judge situations and choose the proper path. You may worry about what will happen if you make the wrong choice, which can lead to indecision and ineffectiveness.

A sense of self-worth is often accompanied by confidence in your abilities, which can help you choose the best courses of action. You can decide whether a low-risk, medium-risk, or high-risk option is best in a specific situation. You can feel comfortable knowing that however it turns out, your life will still be important. 

Maintain Healthier Relationships

When you feel comfortable with who you are, you may be more open and honest with your loved ones. A high level of honesty is vital to romantic partnerships and also work relationships, friendships, and family relations. It can also help for your loved ones to see how highly you value yourself, which may translate into a healthy respect on their part as well. 

It Can Be Hard To Give Ourselves Compassion At Times

Set Realistic Expectations

People who value themselves highly are often comfortable with their own limitations. They typically understand that perfection isn't a realistic goal and that mistakes are bound to happen. An important aspect of self-worth is the belief that you are worthy of respect regardless of a particular outcome. 

How To Improve Your Self-Worth

If you’d like to learn how to value yourself more highly, there are several steps you can take that may help improve your self-image. The following strategies can help you build your self-worth, enhance your mental well-being, and flourish. 

Use Affirmations 

Positive affirmations can be beneficial tools. One way to use affirmations when you're starting out with low self-worth is to make them positive but believable to you. So, for example, if you wanted to get a job for which hundreds of people have applied, telling yourself you are going to get the job might feel overwhelming. Instead, you might use an affirmation like, "I deserve to have a good job like this, and I'll keep trying until I get one."

Do What You Love

Research shows that having a sense of purpose can improve our mental well-being. Pursuing your passions, whether at work, through hobbies, or by volunteering, can help you reinforce your sense of identity and boost your self-esteem. For example, someone who enjoys crafting may feel a greater sense of self-sufficiency after finishing a project. Think about the things in life that matter most to you and how you can nurture those interests. 

Learn To Take Compliments

When we reject compliments, we are often diminishing our accomplishments and devaluing ourselves. Say, for instance, that someone compliments you on a portrait you painted. Instead of seeing it through their eyes, you look at the flaws in it. You're focused on the eye color you didn't quite get right or the hair you drew too long. So, you don't accept the compliment because you feel you don't deserve it.

What happens when you allow yourself to see the painting through the other person’s eyes is that you may suddenly become aware of the things you've done well in the portrait. You may now notice that you've made the lip-line very expressive or captured the exact expression of your model. 

Avoid Criticizing Yourself

Sometimes, we're so worried about being criticized that we criticize ourselves before anyone else has the chance. Think back to the painting example. Even without someone else's input, you can build your self-worth by looking at the good, both in how you've painted and in who you are no matter how well you paint. Remember that there's a big difference between identifying areas for improvement and criticizing yourself. The first is a problem-solving task. The second often serves the purpose of making you feel bad about yourself.

Find The Good In Yourself

When you experience a negative outcome, you can rebuild your self-worth by looking for the positives in the situation. You might feel like you're a bad parent because you missed your child's dance recital. Rather than defining yourself as a parent by that one instance, look for more profound ways that suggest you're a good parent.

Use "I Am" With Care

When you use "I am" phrases, you’re often putting limits on yourself, particularly if you’re defining yourself in a negative way. Instead of labeling yourself, try labeling the behavior or thought that's concerning you. Rather than saying, "I am bad at solving problems”, try saying, "That idea wasn't right”. 

How Online Therapy Can Help

Studies show that online therapy can help people develop a stronger sense of self-worth. For example, in one study, researchers found that online cognitive behavioral therapy increased participants’ self-esteem, self-compassion, and overall quality of life. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps individuals identify and replace negative thought patterns that could be leading to maladaptive emotions and behaviors, such as those related to devaluing oneself.  

Online therapy is a convenient way of pursuing mental health care. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can chat with a therapist remotely, which can help if you’re not yet comfortable discussing topics related to your self-image in person. BetterHelp works with thousands of therapists—who have a wide range of specialties—so you’ll have a good chance of working with someone who can address your concerns, whether they’re surrounding your self-worth, a mental health condition, or another challenge. A qualified mental health professional can help you work through concerns regarding your self-worth. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp therapists from people experiencing similar concerns.

Therapist Reviews

"Dr. Mohammed is a very good therapist to work with. She gets me to think and to challenge my core negative beliefs with more positive beliefs in ways that are easy to do. She is a caring therapist who makes me feel validated and is helping me to see my worth as a human being. I highly recommend Dr. Mohammed to anyone seeking therapy, especially for past traumas."

“Stacy is incredibly insightful. She listens intently, challenges me to digest the issues in my life and I have become a more aware and confident person since beginning sessions with her. Highly recommend!!”


Developing a robust sense of self-worth can be the key to enjoying a fulfilling, healthy life. For support in developing greater self-love and improving your self-image, consider talking with a licensed therapist. Connecting with the right professional can be the first step toward an enhanced self-image and improved emotional well-being.

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