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Claim Your Self-Worth


I made a commitment to practice self-care, no matter what I weighed, and I began by doing things like wearing fabulous clothes and buying myself flowers.

Only I soon discovered those things weren’t enough.

Whilst I’d finally convinced myself I deserved self-care, regardless of the number on the scale, it soon became obvious it was going to take more to actually make me feel worthy when putting typical self-care strategies into practice.

I can only share my experience, but it didn’t matter that I was starting to take actions that looked like self-care. I was still feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and stress and experiencing a ton of shame as I began to unravel my disordered eating habits and history.

There’s not much point having a luxurious bath if you’re sobbing into the bubbles, feeling like you’re worthless.

However, it’s only through trying these things I became aware I needed something more if I were ever going to feel better about myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but pretty dresses and flowers put me on the path of a much deeper journey.

Attending to the outside made me realize what I really needed to do was turn inwards. And when I looked inwards, I realized I’d been telling myself a false story through my actions and words. I didn’t believe I was worthy because I was constantly sending myself messages telling myself I wasn’t.

It made me aware that self-worth isn’t something we’re given. It’s something that must be claimed.

Claiming your self-worth takes time, effort and commitment. But if you’re expending energy feeling bad about yourself, what have you got to lose expending energy learning to feel good about yourself instead?

Here are some ways I claimed my self-worth:

  • Questioned old stories others had told me about who I am and wrote a new story for myself. Released the shame and shared my stories with others.
  • Stopped calling myself cruel names in my head and started to use words of compassion instead.
  • Constantly examined what I was thinking and made a conscious effort to change negative thoughts to positive ones. Each time a negative story started playing in my head, I’d question it and replace it with a positive affirmation I could believe. In other words, nothing contrived.
  • Learned to sit and actually feel all of my feelings rather than numbing the uncomfortable ones away. It took time, but now I understand some feelings are just part of the human experience. Sometimes they’re trying to alert me to something important.
  • Started a daily journaling practice which led me to re-write my story from being a victim to someone who takes ownership – and responsibility for – every piece of my life, the good and the bad.
  • Stopped looking for answers online, in self-help books, at events and workshops and from various self-proclaimed “experts” and finally began to trust in myself.
  • Sought help from people who were actually qualified to give it, such as coaches and therapists.
  • Learned to create space in my life, set boundaries and say no.
  • Focused on changing one habit at a time and created a sense of confidence in my ability to make holistic and sustainable changes.

There’s so much more I could share, but if you’ve struggled to claim your self-worth, and you’re not finding solace in the usual self-care strategies – there’s nothing wrong with you. You just might need more than any bubble bath can give.

The Pro-Body Project is published fortnightly. You can read the first entry here or the next entry, “Are Your Clothes Weighing You Down?” here

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Esther Zimmer is an Australian writer, lifestyle coach and personal stylist based in London. She believes everyone has a calling, and it’s not necessarily just one thing. The home she shares with her husband, David, is filled with art and books, and her favorite pastime is packing a bag and heading somewhere new. Esther writes about life, relationships, body image and travel and can be found at

10 thoughts on “Claim Your Self-Worth”

  1. Darling Essie, I can’t imagine what this lack of self-worth is like because I’ve never experienced it, but it breaks my heart to know you and others have battled this for so long. You’ve done something important with your series. You’ve exposed so much of yourself, and that must have been difficult. There are so many layers to this complex problem. I can see how someone could peel back several layers and then encounter one that’s too painful to deal with and abandon the effort, thinking it was hopeless. I send my love and admiration for your deep and courageous look inward and for daring to share it with us. We do have to “claim” most everything of significance we want in life. You’ve stated something I’ve always believed, that it’s as much trouble to do nothing as it is to do something… The same holds true for expending energy feeling bad about yourself as it does to feel good about yourself. XOXOX, Brenda

    • Thank you for your lovely words of support, Brenda. I consider myself so blessed to have come out the other side of this full of joy, love and with an unwavering sense of self-belief. Sometimes I actually worry that I’m at risk of forgetting how debilitating it is when your emotions are in control. I don’t want to forget because that’s what motivates me to keep sharing and also appreciating how far I’ve come. And yes, whilst that’s been difficult at times, it’s also been incredibly healing. This is such a complex subject and my experience summed up in 500 words cannot help everyone, but hopefully it will help someone.

      I really love the idea that it’s as much trouble to to do nothing as it is to do something, there was a big “Ah-ha” moment when I came across that line of thought!

      Essie xx

  2. Great tips. I do think that what you define could be passed down and no one wants that either. I agree with you help is available and life can become easier.

    • Thanks so much, Haralee. Oh, that’s so true what you wrote! My mother has struggled with her self-worth her entire life, sometimes I’ve caught myself using the exact negative expressions she’s used in regards to herself. Our brains do like to desperately cling to old thought patterns, there’s no doubt it takes time and energy to change that, but it’s worth it! Esther xx

  3. Wow, Esther – great job! Your awarenesses, clarity, and the steps you lay out for others to follow if they should choose to take action, including therapy, are nothing short of magnificent!
    You rock, Esther, you do!!

    • Jen, thank you so much! How lucky I am to be a part of this community of inspiring and supportive women! I hope you’re feeling better, by the way. I’ve been thinking about you. Esther xx

  4. Relate, relate, relate. These are awesome ideas, clear ideas. I think I’ve said this before, it’s interesting to me how the path your on and the things you have figured out for yourself mirrors the Buddhist philosophy of life. I think that goes to show that some truths are eternal. Well, maybe. My favorite line, “sobbing into the bubbles.” Love, A.

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