Authenticity or Self-Worth? What’s more important?

I have been waving the authenticity and vulnerability flag for a long time. Why? They are fundamental in life, as are courage and leadership. It wasn’t until I realised that self-worth is equally important, if not more. What do you think? Today, when I speak on stage or deliver our leadership programs, we inspire others to see their leadership and courage and help them see their inner worth and greatness.

Authenticity and self-worth are crucial aspects of a fulfilling and healthy life and are often interrelated. However, their importance can depend on the context and individual circumstances. Here’s a breakdown of each concept and its significance:


Definition: Being true to yourself, expressing your thoughts, feelings, and values, and aligning with your true self.


  • Self-Expression: This allows you to express your true self, which can lead to greater personal satisfaction and happiness.
  • Relationships: Helps build deeper and more meaningful relationships, as others can connect with the real you.
  • Integrity: Living authentically means your actions align with your values, creating a sense of integrity and congruence.
  • Mental Health: Suppressing your true self can lead to stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.


Definition: Having a sense of your value and believing in your inherent worthiness regardless of external achievements or validation.


  • Self-Esteem: High self-worth is essential for healthy self-esteem and confidence.
  • Resilience: When you value yourself, you are better equipped to handle challenges and setbacks.
  • Boundaries: Helps you set and maintain healthy boundaries, treating you with respect and dignity.
  • Decision-Making: A strong sense of self-worth can guide you in your best interest.


  • Authenticity and Self-Worth: Being authentic can enhance your self-worth, as it involves accepting and valuing yourself for who you truly are. Conversely, a strong sense of self-worth can empower you to be authentic, as you rely less on external validation.

Contextual Importance

  • Authenticity might be more immediately important in relationships, as it fosters trust and genuine connections. However, you might struggle to maintain healthy relationships and assert your needs without self-worth.
  • In Personal Development: Self-worth can be foundational, as it underpins your belief in your right to be authentic to yourself.

Balancing Both

Ideally, striving for a balance between authenticity and self-worth can lead to the most fulfilling and healthy life. Here are some steps to balance both:

  1. Self-Reflection: Regularly reflect on your values, beliefs, and actions to ensure they align with your true self.
  2. Self-Compassion: Practice self-compassion to build and maintain your sense of self-worth. Recognize that you are worthy regardless of external outcomes.
  3. Healthy Boundaries: Set boundaries that reflect your authenticity while protecting your self-worth.
  4. Seek Support: Engage with supportive friends, mentors, or therapists who encourage your authenticity and self-worth.

Would you like more detailed advice on balancing these aspects in a specific situation, or do you have further questions about either concept?

How to build your Authentic Self and Self-Worth

Building your authentic self and self-worth is a deeply personal and ongoing journey that involves self-reflection, self-acceptance, and intentional actions. Here are some steps to help you develop both:

Building Your Authentic Self

  1. Self-Reflection: Identify Values: Clarify what matters most to you. Write down your core values and beliefs. Explore Interests: Engage in activities and hobbies that genuinely interest you. Understand Emotions: Pay attention to your feelings and what triggers them. Journaling can be helpful for this.
  2. Embrace Your Unique Qualities: Acknowledge Strengths and Weaknesses: Recognize and accept both your strengths and areas for growth. Celebrate Uniqueness: Appreciate what makes you different from others. These differences are what make you authentic.
  3. Practice Honest Communication: Be Honest: Respectfully speak your truth. Avoid saying things just to please others. Express Yourself: Share your thoughts, feelings, and opinions openly.
  4. Align Actions with Values: Consistency: Ensure your actions reflect your values and beliefs. This alignment fosters authenticity. Decision-Making: Make decisions based on what feels right to you, not just what others expect.
  5. Surround Yourself with Supportive People: Positive Relationships: Build relationships with people who accept and appreciate you for who you are. Seek Role Models: Find mentors or role models who embody authenticity and learn from their experiences.

Building Self-Worth

  1. Self-compassion: Be Kind to Yourself. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer a friend. Forgive Yourself. Let go of past mistakes and recognize that they do not define your worth.
  2. Challenge Negative Self-Talk: Identify Negative Thoughts: Notice when you are self-critical. Reframe Thoughts: Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations and realistic perspectives.
  3. Set Healthy Boundaries, know your limits, and Understand your physical, emotional, and mental boundaries. Assert your needs, and Communicate your boundaries clearly and assertively.
  4. Pursue Personal Growth, Learn New Skills, and Invest in your personal and professional development. Set Achievable Goals: Setting and accomplishing small goals to build confidence and a sense of achievement.
  5. Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge Successes: Take time to recognize and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small. Reward Yourself: Treat yourself to something enjoyable for your efforts and achievements.
  6. Practice Self-Care: Physical Health: Maintain a healthy lifestyle through proper diet, exercise, and sleep. Mental Health: Engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress relief, such as meditation or hobbies.
  7. Seek Support When Needed: Therapy or Counseling: Professional help can provide valuable insights and strategies for building self-worth. Support Groups: Join groups where you can share experiences and gain support from others facing similar challenges.

Integrating Both

  1. Reflect Regularly: Continuously evaluate how your actions, relationships, and choices align with your authentic self and support your self-worth.
  2. Be Patient: Building authenticity and self-worth is a lifelong process. Be patient and gentle with yourself as you grow.
  3. Adapt and Grow: Be open to change and growth. Your understanding of your authentic self and sense of self-worth may also change as you evolve.

Would you like to explore any of these steps in more detail or discuss a specific aspect of your journey toward authenticity and self-worth? Contact my team at sonia@soniamcdonald.com.au or go to https://leadershiphq.com.au/ or https://soniamcdonald.com.au/