If you were to really examine your own self-value, what would you find?
We all have times when we’re feeling down, or perhaps kicking ourselves over a decision, but what if that’s your default?
Low self-value can undermine success in many aspects of life, including your business. It can lead to symptoms such as lack of confidence, irritability, or even egotistical displays at work and at home. It can affect relationships as well as the profitability and growth of your business.
Self-value plays an important role in our lives, so it’s important to pause and consider its impacts.
What is self-value?
You might be wondering if self-value is the same thing as self-esteem. Well, sort of. There are some good arguments to be made that they’re different.
Steven Stosny, PhD, describes the differences like this:
- Self-esteem – “A function of how we feel about ourselves—based mostly on comparison to others. It often has a hierarchical bias—we’re better than some, but not as good as others.”
It has a dark side, too. High self-esteem can be associated with a sense of entitlement, leading to retaliation if the person with high self-esteem feels wronged. A 1996 research paper explored links between violence and egotism, associated with higher self-esteem.
- Self-value – “Self-value is more behavioral than emotional and conceptual, more about how you act toward what you value, including yourself, than how you feel about yourself compared to others.
To value something goes beyond regarding or feeling that it’s important; you also appreciate its qualities, while investing time, energy, effort, and sacrifice in its maintenance.”
Why does self-value matter?
People with high self-value tend to also value others. Dr. Stosny argues that when we value others, we value ourselves more. On the other hand, devaluing others usually leads to us devaluing ourselves. This can lead to a narrower perspective and impaired growth.
High self-value helps us to respectfully disagree with someone, without devaluing ourselves or them. In business, it helps to give us perspective and self-confidence.
How low self-value can impact your business
What sort of symptoms might appear in your business that can indicate low self-value? Here are a few common issues:
- You put all sorts of external “tactics” in place to draw in business, but there’s a sense of being held back. In the case of low self-value, this can often be traced to not feeling good enough or not feeling deserving of success.
- You struggle with pricing products or services. Specifically, there’s usually a tendency to under-price. You might think that under-pricing will be good for bringing in customers, but the chances are, if you undervalue your service, they do too.
- You under-sell the brilliance of your work. Perhaps your presentation is too timid to win the contract, or perhaps clients are easily able to talk down the price.
- You struggle with the idea of moving the company forward in a new or better direction. Perhaps you’re indecisive or lack confidence.
- You accept growth levels below what is possible for your company. Perhaps you would be capable of record growth levels, but something holds you back.
- Potentially, there could be low morale among your team. You might lose good people or struggle to attract the best to your company.
Remember, self-value is about how you act toward what you value, including yourself. You may see some of these issues for other reasons, but it’s worth examining whether your self-value is playing a role.Low self-value can lead to much lower business success than is otherwise possible Click To Tweet
Low self-value can often be the biggest obstacle to success, especially among people who already have good access to resources such as money and knowledge. If you still see yourself as a beat-up old pickup truck, when really you could be a sleek, new luxury car, it’s easy to see how that leads to all sorts of limiting choices.
Even if you’re overall a likeable, reasonable person, the way you see yourself can impact those around you. “Emotional contagion” is the phenomenon observed where one person’s emotions and related behaviors directly trigger similar behaviors in others. In a business where you need to work closely with your team, it’s easy for negative emotions to spread.
A Psychology Today post states:
“As a manager in today’s increasingly collaborative, team-oriented business environment, you can see the value of being aware of emotional contagion among your team members. In fact, executives can use their knowledge of the impact of mood contagion to create more positive team dynamics, increase performance, and decrease turnover by consciously managing their own emotions and the emotions they want to spread.”
Boosting your self-value
When it comes to boosting or maintaining a healthy level of self-value, a couple of lines from Dr. Stosny’s report stand out:
“To value something goes beyond regarding or feeling that it’s important; you also appreciate its qualities, while investing time, energy, effort, and sacrifice in its maintenance.”
To promote self-value, invest in maintaining it. It’s common for founders to neglect themselves, but this is important for your overall success and wellbeing! Think of yourself as that luxury vehicle – if you’ve put the investment into those wheels, you’re going to do your best to maintain it, right? Here are a few basic things you can do:
Take care of your physical wellbeing
Show of hands from everyone who has skimped on sleep or skipped meals this week? Yes, you. I know it happens sometimes, but you must meet those three key areas of healthy eating, exercise, and sufficient sleep.
What does this have to do with self-value? Looking after your body helps you to look after your mind too. When physical health is worthy of appreciation, you’re signaling that you are important and worthy of appreciation.
Take care of your emotional wellbeing
Emotional wellbeing covers myriad factors. For many people, this is actually the most challenging aspect of self-value. Remember, it’s okay to not be okay. This is part of my mission behind ZenFounder – to help entrepreneurs “find their tribe” and have a friendly ear to bounce things off.
For some people, emotional issues go much deeper and may even be related to their overall mental health. If you need help in this respect, know that you’re not alone. In fact, this is something that is very common among founders. I would urge you to seek professional help and talk with someone that you trust if you are dealing with depression, anxiety, or thoughts of harm. As founders, we often take on so much, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed, neglecting our own health.
Here are some aspects to emotional wellbeing that I have already written about:
- Relationships – How can you keep a healthy relationship while living the busy founder life?
- Setting boundaries and making time for the important things in life – especially if you work from home!
- How to keep your values at the forefront of your work life.
- How to prevent burnout as a founder.
- Founder depression – this is incredibly common and vitally important to look out for.
- Are you a perfectionist? This can take a huge toll on your emotional wellbeing.
- We all need friends! But making friends as an adult is not always easy…
Dr. Stosny’s report talks about how we are often surveying our environments, looking for things that are negative or appear to be a threat. While that is a necessary part of evolutionary biology, it also trains our brains to look for things that will make us feel down!
“Fortunately, our brains can do the opposite – look for something to appreciate, enjoy, or be interested in, although it takes practice, as well as commitment to emotional well being. We have very little control over the environment we live in, but we have absolute control over what in the environment we choose to aim our focus.”
Many of my clients deal with negative or self-critical thoughts. Here are a few practical strategies we often use. The first is to write an autobiography – see how far you have come and look at your life experiences. The second is to track negative thoughts and find substitutes for the self-critical jabs – turn it around to something positive. The third is to give the critical voice a name, “Harold the Hater” or “Bitchy Betsy.” This helps people to understand that the critical voice is just one voice inside themselves, it is NOT the most important!
Self-value can impact every aspect of life, including business success or failure. It’s by no means the only factor, but it sure is an impactful one!
Your self-value impacts how you think and act, and how you see others. As attitudes and behaviors rub off on others, anything negative can impact business results.
It’s a simple concept, but not-so simple to deal with. Focus on steps for your physical and emotional wellbeing first, and ask for help if necessary. Remember, so many people struggle in this area, you’re not alone and there are qualified professionals ready and willing to help.