New research has uncovered that Australians are considerably underestimating their own value as they overwhelmingly base their value on the amount they earn and own, neglecting to recognise the value of their social and emotional contributions to loved ones.
The findings come from a detailed analysis of the things Australians value most, which was commissioned by TAL, a leading Australian life insurance specialist.
As a nation, Australians consider meaningful relationships and spending time with loved ones the most valuable things in life. However, people find it difficult to evaluate their own worth and place more value on their things, with 64% naming possessions - like their house or car - as their most valuable assets.
The research also found that nearly half of all Australians (47%) struggle to understand the value they provide to others, and four in five (78%) feel their self-valuation has led to negative repercussions, including poor life decisions (41%) and not spending time on things that are important to them (15%).
Commenting on TAL's research, Dr Ilan Dar-Nimrod, a research psychologist, University of Sydney said: "As people, we have a natural tendency to recognise the value of material things, but it's not so straightforward when it comes to ourselves. This can impact how we view our own self-worth, leading us to measure it based on elements that are easy to monetise, such as how much we work, earn and what possessions we own, while missing the point that our value is so much greater. Although it contains all of these elements, it goes above and beyond material assets. The value we provide to others through emotional support and mateship is endlessly valuable, but it's the first thing we seem to forget.
"The findings show that the phenomenon of under-appreciating the emotional support we provide to others is common, particularly among the younger generations, with many of us failing to see that we are a Most Valued Person – or a true 'MVP' – to our loved ones. This lack of awareness may also be impacting Australians' self-value and the choices they make in life."
The research from TAL shows that people value different things in life, often related to their life stage. Building a rewarding and successful career is a strong focus for millennials, while baby boomers tend to be more focused on staying healthy and supporting loved ones with practical tasks, all of which could be fueling the generational differences in self-value.
The research also identified that Australians fall into one of four different profile types depending on how they view their own value. Most Australians (60%) fall into types that are more focused on family and value spending quality time [Conscientious Carers and Family-Focused Optimists] while 40% are more career-driven and focused on providing for others financially [the Gregarious Go-Getters and Ambitious Organisers].
While career-driven Gregarious Go-Getters make up only a quarter (24%) of the overall population, they are predominantly young people, with more than half (54%) being millennials. Older generations (aged 35-74) however, tend to make up the majority of the Family-Focused Optimist group (78%), despite this only comprising a third of all Australians (32%).
Overall, the findings show that self-value increases with age. Millennials tend to place a low self-valuation on themselves which is likely down to them owning less assets and earning comparatively less than older generations in addition to underestimating the emotional value they provide to others.
Dr Dar-Nimrod continues, "These findings show that there's a need for people to better understand that their 'self' includes much more than just their assets. By underestimating their self-worth, people may be more inclined to lack belief in themselves and their decisions, and so be less inclined to make the decisions that may benefit them the most. This is particularly relevant for younger generations, as they are making social as well as financial decisions, such as decisions around their financial health, that could impact them throughout their lives."
Modern life, including social media may also be having a larger impact on young Australians' self-value with 79% stating that aspect of life makes it difficult for them not to compare themselves to others which could be contributing to the erosion of millennials' self-value.
The lack of value Australians place on themselves is also reflected in their actions around protecting what they deem as valuable. Nearly three in five Australians admit that they do not consider themselves a valuable asset, which could explain why twice as many people (66%) say they have car insurance but have not proactively put life insurance, including income protection, insurance in place.
Visit www.tal.com.au/valueofyou to take the test to find out which personal value type you are.
Question: Can you share some of the results, with us?
Dr Illan Dar-Nimrod: As people, we have a natural tendency to recognise the value of material things, but it's not so straightforward when it comes to ourselves. This can impact how we view our own self-worth, leading us to measure it based on elements that are easy to monetise, such as how much we work, earn and what possessions we own, while missing the point that our value is so much greater. Although it contains all of these elements, it goes above and beyond material assets. The value we provide to others through emotional support and mateship is endlessly valuable, but it's the first thing we seem to forget.
The findings show that the phenomenon of under-appreciating the emotional support we provide to others is common, particularly among the younger generations, with many of us failing to see that we are a Most Valued Person – or a true 'MVP' – to our loved ones. This lack of awareness may also be impacting Australians' self-value and the choices they make in life.
Question: What surprised you most about these results?
Dr Illan Dar-Nimrod: I was most surprised by the finding which showed that millennials, who are often portrayed as being entitled and or with an inflated sense of importance, were actually the most likely to devalue themselves which could be related to their average lower earnings and wealth accumulation.
Question: How does underestimating ourselves lead to poorer life choices?
Dr Illan Dar-Nimrod: People's most rewarding experiences come when they challenge themselves with tasks that necessitate hard work and perseverance. When a person underestimates their self-worth, they are less likely to face these types of challenges as a result of feeling less able to successfully navigate them. By extension, this could lead to them depriving themselves of these rewarding experiences or valuable lessons of overcoming adversity and failure.
Question: What advice do you have for women who are struggling to understand their value?
Dr Illan Dar-Nimrod: My main advice for women who are struggling to understand their value is to take some time to self-reflect on what you value in others and then flip it to consider what you do for others, by doing this it can help you better understand how valued the emotional contributions you make to others are. By putting yourself in the shoes of a loved one and viewing your self-worth from their perspective, you can better understand the true value you bring to the world.
Question: What do you value most in life?
Dr Illan Dar-Nimrod: True connections are the things that I value most in life. I cherish meaningful interactions that introduce me to different viewpoints and broaden my horizons to include richness that I was not aware of before. Such interactions necessitate both the willingness to listen attentively and to express oneself without reservation. I dare to say that one's ability to freely express oneself may be negatively affected by underestimating their own value (and by extension, their ability to enrich others).
Question: Can you share your top tips for boosting self-worth?
Dr Illan Dar-Nimrod: My top tips for boosting your sense of self worth are below:
Try practicing gratitude
By practising gratitude, you can help shift your attention to the good things around you and become more aware of things that you may take for granted. By focusing on the positives in life and the important people and things that enrich your life, you will be able to better understand your own value to realise that you are more valuable than you may initially have thought.
Take some time to self-reflect
Consider the value that your loved ones have on your life and then flip it – imagine how these loved one's value you. This can help you realise the full value that you bring to the people in your life and help boost your self-worth.
Spend money and time on others rather than on yourself
By doing things for others rather than yourself can make you feel good, leaving you feeling more satisfied which will positively impact your mindset and sense of self-worth.
Find a balance between spending money on material objects and experiences
Whilst purchasing material objects can give you instant gratification, experiences create can create lasting feelings of happiness so find the balance between purchasing things that make you happy and having meaningful experiences.
Find ways to challenge yourself
When you engage in activities, particularly those which are difficult, you can derive a sense of your own ability and capabilities. By trying something new or something that presents a challenge in some way can give you a sense of achievement and appreciation of your own self-worth.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Photo by Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash