How Do You Overcome the Feeling of Worthlessness?

Do you have times when you feel worthless?

Why do you think that is, and what can you do about it?

There are actually two sides to this – an internal side and an external side.

Internally

If we get right to the heart of the problem, it all stems from one thing: COMPARISON

Now that’s a bold statement, but if we look more closely and what you’re comparing yourself with then it starts to become clearer. Comparing yourself with something external might not sound like an internal problem, but bear with me.

If you’re comparing yourself to others then it’s your perception of the gap between where they are and where you are that is the thing that you allow to devalue your own sense of worth.

Which really is a manifestation of the internal cue of your EXPECTATIONS of yourself at this stage of life.

Let that sink in for a moment – your EXPECTATIONS of where you are in life right now.

But where did these expectations come from?

Interestingly, we inherit the majority of our beliefs from external sources like our parents, friends, school, work and so on, and then adopt them as defaults against which we measure ourselves.

But consider this. What if those beliefs we have been taught are flawed? What if they are wrong? And your situation today is simply an extension of where you were yesterday and not some expectation of where you could be had you done something differently at some stage in your past according to somebody else’s opinion.

You are where you are today because of the choices you made to get here.

I am not saying that to reprimand you – it’s just a fact. No judgements here – it’s a judgement-free zone (since judgement is essentially measuring versus an expectation and we’re not into that).

So, accept where you are today and who you are today as just who you need to be. Learn from your past and decide anew what you will do tomorrow. You get to choose how your life goes from this moment forwards, so you get to make different choices if you want to. You get to decide if you want to accept other people’s beliefs about what you should be doing or should be like. And you get to decide who you are.

And I say CHOOSE YOURSELF and your self-worth will go through the roof. YOU ARE ENOUGH. Remember that, say it to yourself as an affirmation each morning (as in “I AM ENOUGH”) and stop delegating responsibility for your life to others – either through external comparison or unchecked adopted beliefs.

Got that? Good. 

Externally

The bad news is you don’t have control over external sources that affect your self-worth, but the good news is that you do have control over how to respond to them.

This area is multi-faceted and can border on toxicity and abuse. It can range from something mild like a parent, friend or colleague constantly “reminding” you how you should be (that word again) – which makes you feel bad – through to genuine abuse (mental, emotional or physical) and devaluation of you as a person.

Now, I said makes you feel bad, and this is the first big thing to get your head around. In reality, nothing makes you feel bad. Instead, you have a subconscious program that responds to the stimulus in this way. It may have been a defence mechanism from childhood or a conditioned response from being scolded at home or school – your parents or superiors expected to see remorse so your response became conditioned sadness.

I’m not saying you have to laugh at everything, and definitely not when you have done something you regret. But I am saying that you get to draw the line and choose how to respond to the external stimulus.

As I’ve said before, thoughts lead to feelings lead to actions lead to results. The whole process is kick-started with an emotion – which is an instantaneous response – which then evokes thoughts which, in turn, trigger longer-lasting feelings. This is an activation process of your subconscious patterns or habits that lead to these feelings of worthlessness. However, you can interrupt the thought/feeling/actions cycle and break the destructive thoughts.

This is the point where you get to say – as an adult with all the rights in the world – to the other person that they have crossed the line and are being offensive. Just be polite and firm – no need to try to outdo them in retaliation – even though it might feel like a good idea at the time (remember your emotion of anger leads to thoughts of getting even, then feelings of vengeance – break the cycle). Something along the lines of “You’ve overstepped the mark and I won’t be spoken to like that,” or “when you’ve calmed down, please come back and we can speak about it rationally,” or whatever works for you.

Sometimes people overstep the mark occasionally and you can fix this easily with simple comments like this and by clearly setting your own boundaries for what you accept and don’t accept.

However, if they go further with demeaning comments, persistent abuse, harassment or even physical harm, seek immediate help from human resources (if it’s a work issue), the authorities, your doctor or one of the many support services or charities that exist to help in these situations. They help in so many ways and are staffed with professionals in these areas to help you through the problem.

To summarise: the key thing in dealing with external situations is boundaries. Set them and stick to them. Decide how you will respond if they are crossed and create your own space for you to flourish. And if it’s bordering on trauma, abuse, bullying or harassment, please reach out to professionals for support.

This was a high-level nudge from me about why you may be feeling like you are not enough and a short, sharp look at the main drivers of this from an internal and external perspective. As you can see, there are more nuances and details to this, but these two roots – comparison and boundaries – are from where the tree of self-doubt springs.

What do you think? Or do you have questions? Let me know in the comments.

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