Being a woman in a world that values us based on how we look and how willingly we play the roles society dictates for us can be tough.
When you’re judged by how beautiful you are, or what kind of a wife and mother you are, or how you measure up against male co-workers, it can all do a number on your self-worth.
How do we get to that point where we have an unshakable belief in ourselves? What can we learn from women who are completely comfortable with who they are?
Here are nine traits women who know their self-worth have in common.
1) Having realistic expectations
I want to start with a big sign a woman has self-worth – realistic expectations for herself.
We’ve definitely come a long way throughout the years but it can’t be denied that there’s still some imbalance in terms of gender roles and standards at play today.
A quick look at any magazine cover will tell you that. We see photos that send the wrong message about body image, that make us feel bad about our shape, our skin, our hair…the list goes on and on!
And what about how we’re expected to manage everything? Be independent career women while being hands-on moms, devoted wives, and all-around household managers?
I mean, if you don’t have a clear sense of your capabilities and limits, it’s all just a recipe for feeling like you’re incompetent. Like you’re not enough.
But if you’re realistic about your abilities, strengths, and limits, if you say no to all of those demands…you’re already a step ahead. You’re not likely to undervalue or overextend yourself trying to please everyone.
This leads me to my next point…
2) Embracing imperfections
A woman with realistic expectations is a woman who understands she’s not perfect. So, instead of wallowing in self-pity and trying all sorts of things to keep up with “standards,” she accepts her flaws.
That doesn’t mean she’s content to stop at that. No, she does work on being better and doing better.
But the difference is, it’s about growth, not about being perfect. She’s perfectly okay with not being perfect.
So, she would keep herself healthy and strong, but won’t stress about wrinkles, scars, or stretch marks.
She would keep doing her best at work, but won’t go crazy trying to be the do-it-all employee her boss wants her to be.
3) A belief in equality
Ever heard of the term “internalized misogyny”?
It’s when women unconsciously believe the negative stereotypes, prejudices, and sexist attitudes about them that persist in society, culture, and media.
This internalization is quite damaging to a woman’s self-worth because it:
- Makes her believe she’s inferior, less competent, or less valuable than men
- Limits her aspirations and keeps her stuck in certain roles and careers
- Causes imposter syndrome because she doubts her own accomplishments
- Results in a negative body image
- Teaches her to accept mistreatment and toxic relationships
In contrast, when a woman believes in equality, she gives weight to her own opinion and abilities. She recognizes her own inherent worth, simply because equality calls for acknowledging that everyone has equal value.
So, she has a great deal of self-respect and dignity. This is also why she has this next trait…
All too often, women feel the need to shrink themselves, or make themselves smaller, to accommodate others. I myself have been guilty of this.
I’ve found myself trying to take up less room in public transport or giving way to a man while walking on the sidewalk.
I’ve downplayed my successes and stayed quiet in different situations where I should have been upfront.
Why do we do it? The biggest culprit is social conditioning.
Just like men are socially conditioned to not express their emotions, women are socialized to be polite, accommodating, and less assertive. To put the needs and comfort of others before their own.
But a woman with self-worth won’t allow other people to dictate her life. She knows what her boundaries are and isn’t afraid to enforce them.
And remember when I said she gives weight to her own opinions? That’s the main reason why she speaks up when she needs to.
She isn’t scared of other people’s judgment because, for her, what ultimately matters is the approval that comes from within. As long as a decision aligns with her values, she’ll confidently uphold it.
Closely tied to assertiveness is independence.
A woman who knows her self-worth isn’t afraid to stand on her own two feet. Whether it’s pursuing her career, making decisions, or simply living her life, she doesn’t rely on anyone else to make her happy or fulfilled.
That’s not to say she doesn’t value companionship or teamwork. She does, but she’s not defined by them.
She thrives in her independence and takes pride in her ability to take care of herself. She’s not the type to get panicky as she approaches middle age still single, because she knows she’ll be fine, whether or not she stays single for the rest of her life.
More importantly, she isn’t going to settle for less just to be with someone – like a partner who won’t treat her like an equal or who won’t love her the way she wants – because she knows exactly what she deserves.
I don’t mean to paint a picture of an aggressive or bit**y woman. (Which, by the way, is another label the world likes to stick on women who know their self-worth.)
On the contrary, she’s an optimist – someone who knows how to find the silver lining in tough times. Someone who chooses to focus on solutions instead of dwelling on the negatives.
I suppose it’s a skill we develop over time. I, for one, didn’t start out as the optimistic person I am now.
But I learned to be one because of this thought…
When you’re constantly dealing with negative stereotypes and countless demands on you, you can do either of two things: get stuck in self-pity mode or learn how to handle it with grace. Or better yet, humor.
In my case, I chose grace and humor. Emphasis on the word “chose”.
Because, really, for the sake of a healthy sense of self-worth, your life must be on your own terms.
7) Security in oneself
One of the things I really hate seeing is the way women tear other women down. I’ve always believed in the saying, “Empowered women empower women.” (It’s also why I adore Michelle Obama.)
For women who know their worth, other women aren’t competition – they’re companions in life. As in, we’re all in this together. Our journeys aren’t the same, we each have our own paths, but make no mistake, we’re all in this together.
Compare that to someone who’s perpetually jealous and insecure. That kind of woman always measures herself in comparison to other women because of one thing:
She doesn’t believe she’s enough.
You see, jealousy and insecurity arise from a lower sense of self-esteem.
So, if you encounter someone like this, don’t be so quick to dismiss her. Have compassion and see where she’s coming from. I’m sure you’ll find that it’s not about you at all; it’s about her own lack of self-worth.
8) A desire to learn and grow
Next up is a commitment to growth. A woman who knows her self-worth is always looking to grow and learn.
She’s not content with stagnation; for her, it’s all about becoming the best version of herself.
Every failure is a learning opportunity. Every success is a stepping stone to the next one. And with every stage, her self-worth also evolves.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we get to individuality.
Going back to those unrealistic expectations society places on women, it’s all too easy for women to “fall in line,” so to speak. To maintain the status quo. To not rock the boat.
And sure, that might keep things peaceful, but at what cost?
At the end of it all, it’s not an authentic life. And in my opinion, that’s a complete waste of a life!
Look, every woman should know that she is special in her own way. Her flaws, quirks, ideas, emotions…these are what makes her different from everyone else. And it’s what makes the world a more colorful place.
Women with a strong sense of self-worth know this. They know their real value – not the one dictated by their relationship status, job title, beauty, or body shape.
Simply put, she defines herself. She decides who she is or who she wants to be. And there’s no way she’ll let anyone undermine that. There’s immense power in that, don’t you think?