Per Wikipedia, “In sociology and psychology, self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth” and per dicitionary.com, self-worth is defined as “the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self-esteem; self-respect.” In contrast, one’s net-worth is measured by the combination of what one owns, their assets, and what one owes, their liabilities. A person’s net-worth is a snap-shot picture of their current financial situation and overall monetary value. As shown by the definitions alone, self-worth is based on one’s self-perception and how one values themselves based on such aspects as their personality traits, morals, and beliefs, while net-worth is entirely “outside” of the individual and based on financial situation, material possessions, and money. Despite this clear distinction between external and internal factors, many people base their self-worth on their net-worth alone and ignore all the great traits that make them who they truly are.

Our society places such a high significance on how much a person makes, how big or how many homes one owns, how many cars one may have, what brand of clothes a person wears, how many exotic vacations one can take, which restaurants one eats in, etc., that we have lost sight of what truly matters about a person and ourselves. We think we are only as good or “valuable” as the money we make or what we own. Our culture has created a view or judgment of a person based on materialistic and financial factors. This way of judging a person’s “worth” can have significant negative consequences on one’s self-esteem, self-perception, and mental health.

Basing an opinion of yourself on other’s perceptions or values, external factors or measurements, or society’s high expectations can lead to significant anxiety, distress, pressure, feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, and depression. With ideas that more is always better, making more money or owning more stuff will make you happier, you’re not successful unless you are filthy rich, you are only worth the amount in your bank account, the list goes on. How is anyone supposed to feel like enough or “worth” something? And when is enough really enough? Constantly trying to achieve unattainable expectations or goals that aren’t truly meaningful to you or what you want will never make you happy.

Knowing what you value about yourself, what you consider to be successful, and what makes you happy is the first step to having a positive view of your self-worth and positive self-perception. What qualities do you have that you are proud of? Maybe you are honest, or hardworking, or caring, or trustworthy, or non-judgmental. You could be good at a sport, or writing, or cooking. You could be a good friend, or mother/father, or brother/sister, or partner. What do you consider successful? Is it having a job, being able to put food on the table, helping others, taking care of family? Also, what makes you truly happy? Spending time outside, reading, working out, having random conversations with strangers, gardening. Whatever it is about yourself that you appreciate, what you consider to be successful, and what makes you truly happy, embrace it! These aspects are what make you unique and special, and most importantly money can’t buy them!

Once you are able to determine your own positive qualities, successes, values, expectations, and what makes you happy, you will be able to feel more secure in who you are and where you are in life. You won’t feel the pressure, need, or stress to live up to other’s or society’s expectations, but rather your own, which is much more important anyway. If you aren’t happy with who you are, no amount of money or stuff will change that. You are important, you are worth something, and you are NOT a reflection of your net-worth!