Everyone experiences moments of self-doubt and wonders whether they’re really deserving of success or happiness. However, if these negative thoughts escalate to the extent that you feel utterly worthless and miserable, your overall well-being can be markedly reduced. The next time your self-conception hits rock bottom, ask yourself the following nine questions to get yourself back on the path to healthy self-esteem.
Firstly, it’s important to ask yourself what your negative self-talk actually means. To one person, being worthless might mean something material—perhaps you don’t have as much money or as many desirable possessions as you thought you would by this age. To another person, however, worthlessness might be intimately bound up with perceived rejections (whether from family members, romantic interests or job search committees). When you know what it is that’s making you feel worthless, you can start figuring out why those vulnerable spots exist in your self-esteem.
Consider who gave you the impression that you might be worthless. For example, it may be that your freelancing work makes you feel like you haven’t accomplished much because your parents taught you that you should only be proud of a steady job. Alternatively, you may be getting a message from the media or your peers that suggests being unmarried indicates failure. Once you’ve traced your feelings of worthlessness back to certain messages, try to assess those messages objectively—do you really believe they’re true, or can you work to reject them?
Sometimes, feelings of worthlessness are not really yours. Instead, they come from someone who is disowning their own low self-esteem and projecting it onto you. If you accept this projection and don’t realize it belongs to someone else, you can feel truly awful. Ask yourself if there’s anyone in your life who might have made you feel worthless to make themselves feel better—a critical parent, a jealous friend or an abusive partner are common culprits.
Another potential source of worthlessness is setting yourself up to fail. Are you aiming for unattainable achievements, perhaps again because people or movies have made you think these goals are the only worthwhile ones? water flavoring packets Take a hard look at your aims in life, and work out whether you may only have low self-esteem because you’re judging yourself against an unrealistic standard.
Are your feelings of worthless really coming from the present, or are they rooted in regrets about the past or worries about the future? If you work out you’re either dwelling on something from your history, what would you need to do to forgive yourself? And if it’s the future you’re focused on, try practicing mindfulness exercises that help to tether your awareness to the present moment.
If your low self-esteem is connected to feeling rejected or undervalued by others, take some time to consider whether you’re really assessing your interactions accurately. For example, are you assuming that your social circle doesn’t really like you because you’ve been hurt by close friends in the past? Alternatively, do you see every lack of response on an online dating site as a strike against your attractiveness (without ever considering that unreturned messages could just mean the person has recently found a serious partner)? Do your best to see alternative explanations for perceived rejections, and let those explanations inform your self-assessments.
Seemingly inexplicable feelings of worthlessness can sometimes stem from poor self-care. If you don’t treat your body like it’s worth something, your subconscious can take this as a sign that you are not valuable on a fundamental level. Do you take enough time to relax and pursue your hobbies? Are you eating well, and aiming for eight hours of sleep? Do you exercise? If you see gaps in your self-care regime, make changes that send your psyche the message that you’re valuable and worthwhile.
Just as it’s vital to learn how to forgive yourself for past mistakes and difficulties, it’s useful to be aware of how your well-being can be undermined by carrying anger towards others. Sometimes, feelings of worthlessness come from having a relentlessly negative inner life that constantly criticizes and resents. Are you bearing old grudges that could be let go? What could you do today in order to start letting go of those embittered emotions?
Finally, it’s incredibly important to know when to ask for help to move past feelings of low self-worth. Whether you could do with reaching out to friends more often, wonder if you have clinical growfit, or would benefit from the confidentiality and impartiality of working with a therapist, seeking assistance isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s just the opposite—a sign of wisdom and strength.