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Little consideration is given to the inner values of a person when defining one’s success, such as integrity, kindness, love, forgiveness, emotional intelligence and inner balance.

In contrast, an excessive value is placed on the outward appearances of success by society, such as money, material possessions, physical appearance, marital status or career. This creates a definition of success based on outward appearances, which results in a warped sense of self-worth.

Chances are that certain outward appearances of success can trigger a need within you to compare yourself to others. Only when you question your reasons, you realise that you have unconsciously placed value on these outward appearances and used them to determine your own self-worth. Otherwise speaking, how much money you own, what kind of car you drive, how attractive you are, or your occupation, have become the meaning of your self-worth.

Such comparisons will leave you feeling either better or worse about yourself, depending on where you rank yourself on society’s scale of success.


The Problems With Outward Appearances

Take a moment for yourself and write down all the outward appearances that you have unconsciously made as a measurement for your inner self-worth. Realise how they all require you to compare yourself to others or to seek outside approval in order to determine your value.

In addition to that, outward appearances are quick to change, and therefore, are not absolute. The problem is, that if you use such measurements to define your self-worth, then you aim at a constant moving target because there will always be someone richer, more attractive, more materially successful than you.

A study in the Journal of Social Issues found that college students who based their self-worth on outward appearances, such as academic performance, and approval of society were more likely to be stressed and frustrated. Also, these students had more relationship and academic issues, as well as higher use of drugs and alcohol. Furthermore, the same study found that students who placed their self-worth on inner aspects, such as staying true to their morals, were generally happier and healthier.

Sadly, the value that society places on outward appearances are fuelled by the ignorance that everything people experience in the outside world has its place in the inner world. Clinging to the appearances and using them to judge your own worth by comparing to others are all products of the mind. It’s your thoughts that create your circumstances and hence your thoughts that can change them.

Comparing yourself to others keep your thoughts focussed on the very circumstances that you most likely want to change and, by the Law of Attraction, you actually create more of the same.


The Paradox Of Valuing Outward Appearances

Notice how you value yourself is an actual reflection of how you value others. So, if you have placed value on money as a symbol of success, then in your assessment, people with more money are to be admired more than those with less. The same applies to physical appearance, material possessions, marital status, and career.

Ironically, the very people who you admire most are also the people you envy most when their outward appearances outdo yours. Therein lies the paradox – whatever you admire most, you must also envy.


Find Out What You Really Value

It should be clear by now that it is pointless to base your self-worth on outward appearances. The next question is, what should you base it on instead?

Start by making a list of all those human qualities that you value. Here are some examples: personal integrity, kindness, self-confidence, honesty, self-conviction, self-love, the ability to show love, being true to oneself, a sense of humour, affection, gratitude and so on. Also, the ability to use and display any one emotion appropriately, at the right time and in an appropriate manner.

Now, compare this list of values to your original list of outward appearances that you have been using up until now as your measurement for self-worth. Which list holds your true values?

Here’s a spoiler, it’s the one that makes you feel an inner sense of calm and power that cannot be disturbed by outward forces or opinions. It’s the list of human values. The more you associate yourself with the real you that is your inner self, the more such human values will define you.


Rewrite The Definition Of Succes?

Write down your own definition of success, including all those qualities you admire, and use it as your new measurement for success. Do make sure that your definition of success is about you, not about others, or how you compare to them or what they may think of you. Then, print it out and place it somewhere where you can see it every day. Read it every day and attempt to make it your way of life.

There is rarely a career promotion for the kindest person in the office or for the person with the greatest integrity. You will find that people do not compete in inward appearances, because these qualities belong to the higher self, which stands above society’s stereotypical definitions of success. Your higher self knows that it’s pointless to compete in self-worth.


  • How do you measure your self-worth?
  • Does it align with your values?
  • How would you rewrite the definition of success?


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