In his book “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” Stephen Chbosky wrote “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

In business, we accept the payment – and the treatment – we think we deserve.

If there is one thing that is bound to lay bare the value we place on ourselves, it is money. When you’re in business, money and self-worth are tightly linked. If you place a low value on yourself, you’ll find that you’re trapped in an endless cycle that conspires to keep you at that level.

Take a look at the Self-Worth Circle and you’ll see what I mean.

negative self-worth


Low Self-Worth

When you have a low sense of self-worth it’s very difficult to ask for a decent rate of payment for your work.  That horrible little voice in your head keeps telling you that you’re not as good as your peers, and that your work is not up to scratch.  When you’re new to your role it is very easy to accept those comments as logical and correct, so you go along with it.  After all, you’re not really entitled to ask for more, are you?


So you put a low price on your work, thinking to yourself that you’ll raise it later when you’ve become established – proven your abilities.  The problem is that you are the person who will be assessing your development and deciding whether or not you are good enough.   What do you think you’ll say to yourself next time you ask for the OK?

“Of course you can’t ask for more.  You’ve got nothing decent to show that will back up your claim. Where’s your evidence?  “

That’s true.  You don’t have the evidence because, with the prices you charge, because many of the clients you attract are newbie business owners who don’t know what they want, or those who do but are not prepared to pay for it.


You’re not making a decent wage and everything is a struggle.  You have bills coming in that you need to pay but you’re not earning enough to cover them.  The only solution is to take on more work.  So you work and work and work, never taking a break, churning work out on time to keep your clients happy in the hope they’ll come back again.  And they do.  They keep coming back wanting more work because you’re cheap – and so are they.

They don’t care about you.  They just want their work.  You are a mere convenience to them.  That’s why they start to fall behind on paying your invoices. Each payment takes longer and longer, and often you have to chase them up many times before they pay. People stop answering their emails or returning your calls when they owe you money. Funny, isn’t it?  Now you’re short of money and short on time, and you can’t afford to waste it chasing up outstanding payments.

Somewhere about this time you start to feel angry.  You’re disappointed in your clients, their unreasonable demands and their lack of respect.  Mostly you are disappointed in yourself for creating the situation, and expecting to be respected by others when you can’t respect yourself.

Reduced Quality

By now you are tired and you can’t escape the work.  You’re stuck.  You have to work to make money but you need more, so you work harder and faster, ploughing through the tasks, keeping one eye on the work and the other on your income.

You’re tired and unhappy, and it shows in your client service. You resent it when they tell you what they want and when they want it, rather than checking to see if you have room for them in your schedule.  You do your absolute best, because you would never choose to do less, but the gnawing dissatisfaction eats away at you.

The harder you work, the more often little errors slip through.  A miscalculation or a missed deadline has the power to throw you into confusion and send the flames of self-loathing burning ever higher.

“Just look at the work you’ve produced. It’s crap.  It’s late and it has errors in it.  And you still expect people to pay for that?  It’s a wonder you have any clients at all if that’s all you can produce….”

So you don’t put up your prices.  You continue on the hamster wheel you’ve created for yourself because there seems to be no exit.

But what happens if you change just one thing?

Get over yourself and choose to take a risk.

If you actually put up your prices, what is the worst thing that can happen?  You might lose one or two of the clients who don’t value your services. So what?  In dollar terms, how much will you lose?  It can’t be much or you wouldn’t be in such a tough financial situation.

What could you do with your new free time?

Let’s see.

  • You could spend it improving the quality of the work you produce and that would make you feel happier about yourself.
  • You could take a day off and recharge your batteries by spending time with your family.
  • You could take a course to improve your work skills, thereby boosting your confidence, and perhaps attracting higher value clients.
  • You could chat to your best clients to see what more you could be doing for them.
  • You could update your service price list!

To break free from the negative self-worth circle you only need change one thing.  Just one.


positive self-worth

Put up your prices.   The world won’t end, and the clients who love you and your work won’t leave. 

What will happen is that you give yourself the opportunity to learn to value yourself the way you should have been all along.

You will learn how to accept the love, respect and payment you truly deserve.  Surely that is worth the risk?


(Originally published by Anne Maybus in ROOOAR Magazine)