Book review: Know your worth by Anna Mathur

Victoria Beckham looking focused.

Which celebrity’s got good self esteem, do you think? Could it be Kim Kardashian with her body confidence? Greta Thunberg with her fierce and fearless speeches or Victoria Beckham’s drive and determination? Taking her from Spice Girl to international fashion designer within one lifetime.

The answer is: It could be all of them. Or none of them. We’d have to ask them, but even they may not know. Because the term self esteem is so fluffy and fluctuating that it’s hard to define – even for a mental health professional like me.

So this is where counsellor Anna Mathur’s book come into its own. Because it takes the abstract area of self esteem and breaks it down into key pillars. And instantly it feels as though someone’s switched a light on and I’m looking at the subject with a renewed understanding.

For instance, I know I have good, strong boundaries in place and I’m rarely troubled by the desire to people please. I feel absolutely no urge to prove my worth by showing how busy and efficient I am ( I’m not, I’m mostly lazy. Even as I write I’m lying down). But am I prone to obsessive, demoralising, soul sucking bouts of comparison? Yes, I am. And to borrow a metaphor from Anna, this is one room of my self esteem house that could do with a major spring clean.

All that’s good from Know Your Worth

I love the way Mathur uses metaphors to give shape and frameworks to an otherwise amorphous topic. On the subject of self care, which is now used to flog everything from face masks to matressess, Mathur advises the reader to imagine entertaining a house guest.

Making sure your guest has enough sleep, has regular meals to eat and knows where the kitchen and garden are, so she can rehydrate and get some fresh air, is not self care. It is the absolute basics for survival. I repeat, this does not count as self care. Self care is the next step us. The stuff that enable us to thrive, replenish and enjoy life. It’s inviting your guest on a long, scenic walk, it’s letting her relax in the bath with a wonderful book and only introducing her to your kindest, funniest friends. This is self care, as defined by Anna. And I think it’s a pretty good definition.

She also draws a line between the short, quick self esteem boost we all chase, and the longer, but slower top-up. Posting a photo on social media and watching it get lots of likes. Short and quick. Spending a weekend with really good friends who see and love the real you – longer but more nourishing.

Getting the best from this book

And this is partly why Know Your Worth is so outstanding. Anna not only makes the overwhelming subject of self esteem seem bite sized and manageable but she offers real guidance to get your own self esteem back on track. She also lays bare her own self confidence battles. From struggling with childhood bullying, to feeling forgotten after the death of her sister. She lets herself be vulnerable and she asks the reader to do the same. And if you’re going to get the best from this book, then you do have to be willing to search yourself. To dig deep into some uncomfortable areas of the mind and explore what you find. At the end of each chapter there are a series of journal points, which encourage you to do just this. If you’re able to complete the work then no doubt it will shine a light on areas of your own self esteem that may be flagging.

It really is a great book. Its only drawback was that it was so jam packed with helpful points, that it probably needs two readings. And if you can’t make time to double dip then you can follow Anna Mathur on Instagram. Her account is a goldmine of authentic advice.