Humans and Health

Significant or Superficial: Self-Love, Self-Worth and Why They Matter

A board surrounded by roses saying Love Yourself
Olivia Noronha

When I first became acquainted with the concepts of self-love and self-worth, I thought they were trends which existed to excuse our personal failings. Olivia Noronha discusses the importance of self-love and self-worth and how you can cultivate them in your own life… 

In my head, love was something I had to earn. And only once I had earned it through hard work and productivity could I deem myself worthy of it. 

The problem was that this magical moment of worthiness never arrived whilst I possessed this overly critical mindset, even if I achieved my goals. 

Only now do I realise that I was denying myself the real meaning of self-love. Love does not make you lazy, it makes you strong.

Your love for your sister is not conditional on how clear her skin looks that day, nor is love for your best friend determined by how well they did on their maths test.

Love is not superficial. 

Why should self-love be any different?

We are taught that our value is determined by how closely we fit the societal model of perfection. When I began to let go of this indoctrination, my life changed for the better.

I did things which scared me. I stopped spending time with people who made me feel lonely and I learned to use my alone time wisely.

I stopped relying on my family to tell me who I was, and I found comfort in the place which was once the root of my anxiety and insecurities. This place resides in my own mind and body.

Almost everyone has felt the pressure at some point to reach a certain standard, whether it was set by themselves or by others. 

That’s why it’s important to prevent ourselves from running away with the futile beliefs that we are not enough the way we are. 

I will share some strategies which have helped myself and many others cultivate self-love and self-worth. 


Affirmations are statements that we verbalise, envision, or write down, usually about an aspect of our lives which we wish to be true. We can use affirmations to change our perspective on our appearance, our finances, stresses and more.

The great thing about affirmations is that you can make them as intense as you want them to be. An affirmation doesn’t always have to look something like, “My body is perfect, and I am in love with myself.” 

Self-love and self-worth involve recognising that you are more than your thoughts, feelings and life circumstances

For many people who struggle with body image, saying this from a place self-hatred is unlikely to produce much benefit. It is too much radicality too soon. 

It is better to begin with small steps, as it is with any lifestyle practice.  Master Certified Life Coach, Kara Lowentheil, suggests starting your self-love journey regarding body image with neutral affirmations such as ‘my stomach is a human stomach.’

Producing indisputable facts about ourselves can help us move beyond hatred towards neutrality, and eventually even to self-love. It also helps to avoid engaging in toxic positivity


And it doesn’t always have to be about body image. Affirmations can help us deal with other insecurities. For instance, converting the thought, ‘I make so many mistakes ay work. I feel incompetent and useless’, to ‘Everyone makes mistakes at work and in general. I can learn from mine.’

This is a time for you to get creative with your affirmations and make them your own. In relation to self-worth, affirmations are a tool to prioritize your own needs and desires. 

You can find affirmations on the internet too, if you need inspiration.


We are at our happiest when we appreciate the things we have, rather than dismissing them and focusing on that which we dislike. 

Two psychologists, Dr Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, and Dr Michael E. McCullogh, thoroughly researched the concept of gratitude. In one study, they split the participants into groups.

One group wrote about their irritations throughout the week, and another wrote about occurrences they were grateful for.

After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and happier in themselves than the other group. 

Imagine if we used gratitude to focus on what we like about ourselves. Again, this can begin with simplicity, ‘I am grateful to myself for trying to improve my mindset.’ Or ‘I appreciate myself for brushing my teeth every day.’

It is okay not to be grateful for everything. But if your dissatisfaction is causing stress and misery, then it might be because you are focusing on it too much. 

Self-love and self-worth involve recognising that you are more than your thoughts, feelings and life circumstances. It is difficult not to succumb to the excessive criticism your mind feeds to you about yourself, but it is a beautiful act of self-love to overcome it.


Exercise has been a huge tool for me in developing my self-love and knowing my worth. I have managed to shift the motivation behind it, making my routine more sustainable and enjoyable.

I work out to be healthy, to be strong and mobile. And to improve my relationship with my body. 

Exercise does not have to be painful. Like with affirmations, you can find ways to exercise that you enjoy, even just a fifteen-minute walk can boost your mood and you don’t have to do it alone.

The more love we have for ourselves, the more we can give

If you are struggling to find the motivation, you can gently tell yourself, ‘Any movement will serve me, and I am worthy of this time to work on myself.’

Presenter of the top health podcast in the world, Jay Shetty, recommends giving yourself small rewards as you cultivate new habits. This could be having your favourite an iced coffee after a run or taking a long shower.

Incorporating daily movement habits will generate respect for yourself, as you feel grateful to your own body for all that it does for you.

Ultimately, the more love we have for ourselves, the more we can give. And a loving world is a prosperous one.

Olivia Noronha 

Featured image courtesy of Annie Spratt via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

In-article image 1 courtesy of @JennaMarieJournals via No changes were made to this image.

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