How to Find Wisdom in Feeling Worthless
To gain a sense of self-worth, I relied on others for more than 20 years. I depended on their love, acceptance, approval, and pleasure—because I hadn’t yet learned to love, accept, and approve of myself.
Yet my sense of worthlessness not only prevailed. It got stronger.
When I realized that depending on others for my self-worth wasn’t working, I began to assert myself and set clear boundaries with my time and energy.
And I’ve felt more worthy than ever!
It's important to recognize when a belief in your own worthlessness may be harming you and your relationships. With the right tools, you can shift from feeling worthless to feeling worthy, so that you can give and receive the utmost value in all areas of life.
1- Warning Sign: You're prone to overworking in order to feel worthy.
Guideline for Healing: Busyness can become an addiction when we associate it with being worthy. You may feel burned out, yet unable to stop working more and working harder because of the temporary high of feeling valuable.
Pause, take a few deep breaths, and tell yourself that you’re worthy just the way you are. Repeat this often, especially if you don’t believe it (yet).
2 - Warning Sign: You devote yourself to serving others in order to prove your own worth.
Guideline for Healing: The need to feel valuable is part of being human. Yet, serving others in exchange for self-worth actually prevents us from building an intrinsic sense of value and relating authentically to others.
Sufi poet and mystic Rumi advised: "Never give from the depths of your well. Always give from your overflow." In other words, you serve yourself and others best not when you're struggling, but when you're fulfilled. Focusing on your own fulfillment lets you give and receive value in a healthy way.
3- Warning Sign: You play a submissive role in your intimate relationships.
Guideline for Healing: You may find that you resist expressing your own wants, needs and beliefs within your relationships due to a sense of guilt, blame, or shame. As a result, you defer to others at the expense of your own well-being.
Allow yourself the time and space to listen to your bodily signals: they'll tell you what serves you and what doesn't. Do you feel pleasure and expansiveness in response to a given relationship or interaction? Likely, it's serving you well. Or, do you feel hurt or weighed down? Assess whether the situation is right for you and decide what needs to change.
How are you experiencing the warning signs of worthlessness in your own life? Are you learning to value yourself—and if so, how? As you recover and strengthen your self-worth, have patience: progress is an imperfect process. Worthlessness is a deep-rooted issue that takes even deeper love, care, and attention to uproot.
Trust yourself and remember: You’re worthy just the way you are. Even if you don’t believe it (yet).