Have you ever felt worthless or suffered from low self-worth?
I have, and it lasted until I learnt how to change the way I felt about myself.
According to several therapeutic sources worthlessness, lack of self-worth, or only being able to value yourself if others do is a common issue.
I think (as an ex-sufferer) that it is criminal for anyone to feel worthless.
So why does it happen and how do you change it?
You can lay the blame at a number of doors.
- Criticism from friends and/or colleagues.
- Negative messages from parents in the present or during your upbringing.
- Feeling inadequate because we aren’t achieving as much as we feel we “should”.
- Mental illness – still very misunderstood – but far too common to be automatically dismissed, or denied.
- Being mentally, emotionally, physically or sexually abused currently or in the past.
- Believing we are ugly, too fat, too thin, or (yes!) too beautiful.
Criticism: Why do people feel the need to criticise us? Have you ever thought that it may be absolutely nothing to do with who you are or how you behave? It may be due to jealousy. It may be due to their feelings of low self-worth.
Negative messages from parents: During our childhood we are influenced by our parents but also by the parenting style of their parents too. If your parents had negative unsupportive parents, that may be all that they know about parenting, their parents may have been their only role models. So let’s us decide not to pass it down to our children and stop it right here!
Feeling inadequate: Well I just wish I were good at everything. But I’m not! I’m good at some things but not at others. Funny thing is I am actually quite intelligent (honest!) but I hated studying, it bored me to death. I failed nearly all of my exams and didn’t go to university and yet still ended up in a high-powered career. I was an over-achiever and a workaholic, yet I felt a fraud all of the time and even though I performed well I expected to be “found out” all of the time.
Mental illness: There are many causes of mental illness: Stress, feelings of worthlessness that get progressively worse, hormonal mood swings, chemical imbalance, post traumatic stress, suppressed anger, bereavement, relationship breakups. The most common cause of depression is not dealing with our emotions when they occur, instead pushing them down inside and hoping that they will disappear – they won’t.
Abuse: This is a massive topic in itself, but I will try to keep it brief. Abuse, be it mental, physical or sexual is usually about one thing – power. It is about someone wanting to feel as though they have more power then you but it is a very unhealthy way to get it. It also completely destroys your self-worth. There is a solution. I found it.
Being unhappy with your body image: Find me one person on this planet that is 100% happy with the way that they look! I am not a beauty queen I can assure you and have had issues with eating too. There is always something we can do to change how we look but it isn’t always the answer to feeling worthless. There is no point changing how we look on the outside if we still feel worthless on the inside. That is why cosmetic surgery is quite often not the answer. I could never understand beautiful people suffering from worthlessness. How could they? Well beautiful people have told me that the reason they feel worthless is that they are valued by their looks and feel that people aren’t interested in getting past their external appearance and getting to know them, the person! If you aren’t OK with your body image there is plenty you can do about it.
So what is the solution to feeling worthless and increasing your self value?
It is about giving you knowledge and empowering you to take responsibility for your own self worth.
The most important thing to realise is that you are responsible for for your self worth.
As a child you may have developed your self worth based on other people’s opinions. But their opinion is not who you are! You, and only you, are responsible for how much you value yourself. That’s the good news because if your self worth is low then YOU can take responsibility for fixing it. However, it is very difficult to build it up if at the same time you surround yourself with people who try to smash it down. it is not personal, it is always about their own lack of self worth. Pity them as they are trying to make themselves feel more worthy but making people feel even less than they do. You don’t have to allow that to happen.
In the beginning it may be difficult to stop others affecting how you feel about yourself, but as you get stronger you will be able to deflect these people and their messages. When you were a developing child, you didn’t know any better. But you do now! So how do you protect yourself until then?
First try and ignore all the people in your life who are negative towards you. This may make you feel very lonely for a time but it will be worth it. Second, hang around people who like and support you. If you haven’t got anyone find someone. Or keep reading this article until your worth develops enough to make healthy friendships.
If you struggle and need extra help, choose to get it. That is taking responsibility.
Criticism: When people criticise you there are several ways in which you can deal with them. Tell them to stop! Some people are a bit too ignorant though and may get even worse. If they do, try to remember it is probably because they feel even more worthless than you. Or they may just be people who actually never have a positive thing to say about anyone anyway. So don’t be around them!
Negative messages from parents: As a child you listened to your parents, probably because they were your parents. Healthy parents who value themselves also value their children and help them to develop a healthy self-worth. Many, many parents aren’t that lucky. Being responsible for the development of another human being is a monumental task. If they haven’t had positive role models as parents, they will just pass on the same parenting issues as they may not have know how to do anything different. So you can excuse/forgive them.
However, you are now an adult and can choose to develop your own self-worth. If your parents constantly give you negatives messages as an adult, you can give your parents the opportunity to change, but they have to want to. Tell them that you would like them to stop being negative towards you as it doesn’t make you feel good. You may also have to look at whether you are negative towards them too by the way! They may just mention that!
If they don’t change then you may need to limit the contact you have with them. Whatever negative messages they give you ignore them. You have to make your own decisions about yourself. If you are honest and get to know yourself and how you behave, you will know what your good points are and your not so good. We ALL have them, unless you are a saint! The good news is that you can choose to change your not-so-good points!
Feeling inadequate: Get to know yourself. What are you good at? What do you like? What don’t you like? Do you mix with healthy people? Do you have a good support network? Do you look after yourself? Do you have time to recharge your batteries? Do you manage your stress levels? Do you say “No” to things that you don’t want to do, or things and situations that are not “right” for you? Are you assertive? Do you focus on your strengths? Do you set yourself up to fail? Do things that you can achieve rather than putting all of your energy into something you can’t? Do you do things that make you feel like a worthwhile human being?
If you are not happy with your answers to any of the above then choose to change. That is within your control. If you need help to do it. Just ask. Not everyone (in fact hardly anyone!) can do it alone. Asking for help is valuing YOU. It is a sign of strength NOT weakness. Trust me, I learnt the hard way!
Mental illness: If you have any problem please share it with someone. A problem shared is definitely a problem reduced in size. Talking about a problem helps to prevent some types of depression. Find a good listener, a friend, a counsellor, a help-line. The only thing that happens to problems if they aren’t talked about is that they get bigger and bigger. You may feel your problem is too small. It isn’t – it’s a problem – so share it. If you feel depressed tell someone. Depression is very, very common and can be sorted.
Depression can be brought on by several things: grief, trauma, hormones, physical illness, stress, chemical imbalance, the list is endless. The most effective prescription is to talk, but if you do have a chemical imbalance you have to take medication to address that balance. Makes sense doesn’t it?
Again, the responsibility lies with you. Don’t suffer. You don’t have to. Life is too short. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you recover! Choose to get help NOW.
Abuse: With all of the hype at the moment, I feel that the resolution of abuse is a minefield, especially for children. But you are an adult. You won’t think you have power, but you do. Talk to someone. No one has the right to abuse another person EVER. Sometimes, as I discovered, people won’t believe you. That’s their problem NOT yours. Keep talking until you find someone who can help: a qualified therapist or if you don’t feel that you can talk to someone face-to-face try an on-line service or helpline. Take away your abuser’s power, and take back yours NOW.
Being unhappy with your body image: This one is straightforward. Eat well, exercise healthily (not obsessively), and drink plenty of water. If you have an unhealthy attitude towards food, get help from a doctor or an eating disorders support group. See a dentist regularly. Use quality (not necessarily the most expensive) makeup. Go to the hairdressers. Get help if you need it to get fitter. Utilise doctors, nutritionists, friends, support groups.
It takes effort; so find a way to motivate yourself. AND only do it for 6 days a week. Have a day off and make it a fun day when you don’t think about your body image at all.
Make the most of what you do have rather than focus on what you haven’t. Finally when you look in the mirror, never, ever criticise yourself. Always say something positive. Like “My eyes are nice” or “I like my hair.” If all else fails say to yourself: “I could be worse but I am not going to let myself get worse!” OK!
So that is the solution.
Develop your own self worth and don’t let people knock it down, if they do, avoid them and find people who don’t.
Last but by no means least. If you feel unable to do this alone, get some help. Getting help is a way of valuing yourself.
You can do it. In fact ONLY you can do it!
Why not try out a taster of “How not to kill your self-esteem”
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