Most people typically suffer from low self-esteem. They seek to increase self-worth through the approval of others or from achieving goals. Raising children, building a career and/or fulfilling the role of a wife or husband can become the basis for establishing one’s identity.

Spiritual basis for self-worth: It’s important to consider how God can help you build your sense of significance and self-esteem. If you are a Christian or are seeking to know God personally – it is critical to consider building your self-worth and identity on the love and forgiveness of Christ. Christ provides an unchanging basis for self-worth. He gives real purpose and value to His children. No matter what occurs in life – you can know that Jesus loves you unconditionally, can use you and fulfill His purpose in you. Believing these truths can radically change how you view yourself during any time of life. Trusting in God’s purpose and Word and experiencing His love will change your motivation and ability for dealing with

Dignity and Self-Respect

You need to determine that because you are a person of dignity, made in the image of God – that you have great value. When you question your dignity and worth – you will feel like a failure and not be motivated to deal with the difficulties of life.

What is dignity? According to the dictionary dignity is the quality of being worthy of being esteemed or respected. Dignity = self-regard, self-respect and self-esteem.

“What should move us to action is human dignity: the inalienable dignity of the oppressed, but also the dignity of each of us. We lose dignity if we tolerate the intolerable.” Anonymous

The well-known psychologist Abraham Maslow, who charted out a hierarchy of human needs, put self-esteem above basic survival needs such as food, shelter and clothing.

It’s important to note that safety needs are basic to human survival and foundational to your belonging and esteem needs. When these needs are unmet – your life will be in disorder.

When you feel you are a person of worth – you will place high regard on your life and how you are treated.

Also, you must come to the realization that how others treat you does not determine the truth about who you are. You need to realize that you are a person of worth and value despite what anyone thinks, does or says and despite any goals you may or may not have accomplished.

Read Search for Significance by Robert McGee. This book will help you base your self-worth on truth versus the opinions of others or false beliefs. Take the following inventory to measure your self-esteem:

Self–Esteem Inventory
DIRECTIONS: For the statements below, circle the rating which is most true of your level of exhibiting these behaviors in your life. Use the following rating scale:
1 = never

2 = rarely

3 = sometimes

4 = frequently

5 = almost always

1 2 3 4 5 ( 1) I seek approval and affirmation from others, and I am afraid of criticism.

1 2 3 4 5 ( 2) I guess at what normal behavior is, and I usually feel as if I am different from other people.

1 2 3 4 5 ( 3) I isolate myself from and am afraid of people in authority roles.

1 2 3 4 5 ( 4) I am not able to appreciate my own accomplishments and good deeds.

1 2 3 4 5 ( 5) I tend to have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.

1 2 3 4 5 ( 6) I get frightened or stressed when I am in the company of an angry person.

1 2 3 4 5 ( 7) In order to avoid a conflict, I find it easier to lie than tell the truth.

1 2 3 4 5 ( 8) I have problems with my own compulsive behavior, e.g., drinking, drug use, gambling, overeating, smoking, use of sex, shopping, etc.

1 2 3 4 5 ( 9) I judge myself without mercy. I am my own worst critic, and I am harder on myself than I am on others.

1 2 3 4 5 (10) I feel more alive in the midst of a crisis, and I am uneasy when my life is going smoothly; I am continually anticipating problems.

1 2 3 4 5 (11) I have difficulty having fun. I don’t seem to know how to play for fun and relaxation.

1 2 3 4 5 (12) I am attracted to others whom I perceive to have been victims, and I develop close relationships with them. In this way I confuse love with pity, and I love people I can pity and rescue.

1 2 3 4 5 (13) I need perfection in my life at home and work, and I expect perfection from others in my life.

1 2 3 4 5 (14) I seek out novelty, excitement, and the challenge of newness in my life with little concern given to the consequences of such action.

1 2 3 4 5 (15) I take myself very seriously, and I view all of my relationships just as seriously.

1 2 3 4 5 (16) I have problems developing and maintaining intimate relationships.

1 2 3 4 5 (17) I feel guilty when I stand up for myself or take care of my needs first, instead of giving in or taking care of others’ needs first.

1 2 3 4 5 (18) I seek and/or attract people who have compulsive behaviors (e.g., alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, shopping, sex, smoking, overworking, or seeking excitement.)

1 2 3 4 5 (19) I feel responsible for others and find it easier to have concern for others than for myself.

1 2 3 4 5 (20) I am loyal to people for whom I care, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.

1 2 3 4 5 (21) I cling to and will do anything to hold on to relationships because I am afraid of being alone and fearful of being abandoned.

1 2 3 4 5 (22) I am impulsive and act too quickly, before considering alternative actions or possible consequences.

1 2 3 4 5 (23) I have difficulty in being able to feel or to express feelings; I feel out of touch with my feelings.

1 2 3 4 5 (24) I mistrust my feelings and the feelings expressed by others.

1 2 3 4 5 (25) I isolate myself from other people, and I am initially shy and withdrawn in new social settings.

1 2 3 4 5 (26) I feel that I am being taken advantage of by individuals and society in general; I often feel victimized.

1 2 3 4 5 (27) I can be overresponsible much of the time, but I can be extremely irresponsible at other times.

1 2 3 4 5 (28) I feel confused and angry at myself and not in control of my environment or my life when the stresses are great.

1 2 3 4 5 (29) I spend a lot of time and energy rectifying or cleaning up my messes and the negative consequences of ill–thought–out or impulsive actions for which I am responsible.

1 2 3 4 5 (30) I deny that my current problems stem from my past life. I deny that I have stuffed–in feelings from the past which are impeding my current life.


SCORING AND INTERPRETATION Add the ratings circled. This score indicates the degree to which you are affected by low self–esteem.
0–30 Not affected by low self–esteem.
31–45 Traces of low self–esteem. Take preventive action to reduce its impact on your life.
46–61 Presence of mild low self–esteem in your life. Take steps to treat this.
62–90 Presence of moderate low self–esteem. Take steps to treat this as soon as possible.
91–120 Presence of severe low self–esteem. Take steps to treat this immediately.
121–150 Presence of profound low self–esteem. Take immediate step to treat this and seek out professional help to assist you in this process.

Consult with a counselor or your physician about mental health or medical interventions if you would like further help.
©2007 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC