How to stop feeling unworthy

How to Let Go of Feeling Unworthy

Feelings of unworthiness can occur in anyone from time to time. If they linger, you can take steps to turn them around.

When you’re challenged by feelings of unworthiness, you may think you don’t deserve good grades, a job promotion, parental affection, or love from a partner.

While there are several potential causes of feeling undeserving, there are also several steps you can take to help you feel worthy and deserving.

It’s natural to go through periods of feeling unworthy of love or recognition. Most of the time, these sentiments are short-lived, but sometimes they can linger for different reasons.

Impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome is a strong experience of self-doubt and feeling like a fraud, personally or professionally. Folks who live with impostor syndrome often credit success to luck and devalue their hard work and self-worth.

Past trauma

Research from 2019 found a link between childhood trauma, feeling unworthy, and developing depression as an adult.

Mental health conditions

Feelings of worthlessness can also be a symptom of mental health conditions like:

  • bipolar disorder
  • depression
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • post-traumatic stress disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health states that feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness can be hallmarks of depression, especially if you experience these feelings every day for most of the day for 2 weeks or longer.

Not accepting your past decisions

Part of the human experience is complex reasoning and introspection. That means when we make a decision, we can review it and have satisfaction or regret over the past.

Not accepting your past decisions, even a string of mistakes, may color your views on yourself even long after the deeds are done.

Low self-esteem

Self-esteem is a measure of how you view your own qualities and characteristics.

Having a higher degree of self-esteem is associated with mental fitness and self-worth, whereas lower self-esteem is linked to feelings of worthlessness and lack of confidence.


Perfectionism involves setting unrealistically high expectations for yourself and becoming dysregulated when you don’t meet the rigid standards you created. You may believe things are all or nothing, either praiseworthy or worthless.

Covert narcissism

Narcissism refers to a group of personality traits that include difficulty empathizing, grandiose ideas, and a need for praise.

On the outside, covert narcissism in particular can appear self-deprecating and sound like consistently expressing low self-esteem. This person may avoid situations that challenge a fragile sense of self-worth.

On the inside, someone with covert narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) may still believe they’re superior to others (in line with other NPD types) and thus avoid criticism at all costs.

Feeling unworthy can leave you unmotivated and can make self-care difficult.

Since these thoughts can have such a negative effect on your quality of life, it’s important to learn how to reclaim your self-worth and recognize what a deserving person you are.

1. Acknowledge your emotions

Instead of judging your emotions, you can make space for them. Being mindful of your feelings can help you lean into acceptance.

2. Have a plan

Sometimes penning down your intentions can help change a habit that doesn’t serve you. You could try making a loose plan with as much (or as little!) detail as you need.

It can involve specific strategies like talking aloud to yourself to interrupt negative thoughts of worthlessness when they arise.

3. Enlist help from your inner circle

Asking for help is one of the most important steps you can take.

Beyond listening, those who care about you may also be able to help lift your spirits and point out your hard work.

A therapist can be a solid addition to your inner circle as well. Here’s how to find the right one for you.

4. Commit to your best, and understand that changes day to day

A lot of things can influence what your best will look like each day, including factors beyond your control.

Committing to your best doesn’t mean perfection. Instead, it means doing what you can at the moment and accepting it will not always be flawless, and that it is OK. You are enough.

5. Perform a private talent show of your strengths

By acknowledging the things you know you can do well, it can help you know yourself better and send some more self-love your way.

There are many reasons you may feel unworthy, but you can take steps to help improve your feelings of self-worth.

Challenging negative thoughts, making a plan for handling your emotions, embracing your best in each day, and reaching out to others can all help you toward feeling self-validated.

Feeling Unworthy? How to Find Your Way to Freedom

“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.”
~Rachel Naomi Remen

Note: This post was inspired by a TED talk by researcher Brene Brown called “The Power of Vulnerability. ” Please watch it if your beliefs about your perceived failings, faults, and imperfections are holding you back. Isn’t now the time to end the suffering of unworthiness?

There is something that plagues so many of us, and it breaks my heart. Call it low self-esteem, shame, or the inner critic – it doesn’t matter what the name is. What matters is that we secretly feel unworthy, and we are afraid to take the risk to let others see us as we are. We harbor pernicious beliefs that bombard us with insults that we would never, in a million years, say to someone else.

The result? We feel disconnected, alienated, separate, and alone.

We live our lives in the proverbial closet, believing that if we let ourselves be seen, we would be summarily rejected.

Then, we close ourselves off, feeling lonely even when we’re surrounded by people. We numb ourselves from these painful feelings of unworthiness by eating and drinking too much, overspending, and staying insanely busy.

We get lost in a cycle of thinking and behaving that traps us into feeling even more isolated. We may even pretend that things are OK, while our soul screams in desperation.

Longing for Freedom

And all we want is to be happy. We want to be joyful and fulfilled, grateful and connected. We want to relax into our lives and put down all the effort it takes to keep ourselves safe.

I understand that your story is a sad one. You developed this mindset of unworthiness because you were rejected, abandoned, or mistreated. I am so sorry for the pain you have experienced.

But this is your life and your time. You can take responsibility for your feelings. You can learn to be compassionate toward yourself. You can be more open. And you can thrive – yes, you.

A Roadmap Out of Unworthiness

If you want to feel alive, if you want to unchain yourself from the cycle of not good enough, follow these breadcrumbs to freedom.

  • Don’t stay locked into the past. Somehow you have concluded that you are lacking because of how other people reacted toward you. If you let your mind run wild, it will keep repeating this story forever. Now is the time to let the past go. Every time these thoughts appear, don’t give them energy. Let them float by like clouds across the sky. Focus instead on the life-force that is present now.
  • Challenge your beliefs about yourself. Get to know your version of self-critical thoughts – I’m stupid, I can’t succeed, I will be laughed at, I’m unlovable. None of these thoughts holds a grain of truth. Not one iota. Recognize that they play in your mind as an endless loop that limits your capacity for happiness. They don’t serve you, so let them be and move on. Let your troublesome identities fall away.
  • End the violence. We reject ourselves and each other in so many gross and subtle ways. End the violence now by being kind toward your own thoughts and feelings. Treat yourself like gold. Find a generous space in your heart that is available to receive everything that arises in you without exception.
  • Be willing to be free. By now, your unworthiness is probably a friend of sorts. Imagine that this identity, this way of being you know so well, disappears. Poof! Things would look very different to you. Have the courage to step out into the unknown and be free of what holds you back.
  • Risk rejection. Yes, you read that correctly – risk rejection. If you don’t want to be trapped by unworthiness any longer, put yourself out there. Don’t act like the shrinking violet or the know-it-all. Be your whole, radiant, magnificent, awkward, scared, quirky self. Some people may shy away, but others will be drawn to your gorgeous authenticity. And you will know that they love you as you are.
  • Access your natural resilience. You have what it takes to heal this unworthiness. How do I know? Humans naturally gravitate toward wholeness and peace. Be willing to heal. Be willing to live in the totality of you – that means all of you. Create a momentum and keep it going.
  • Start small. Take one situation or encounter and approach it without the cloak of unworthiness. Do experiments. Stretch the edges of your comfort zone just a little. And don’t be discouraged. Keep at it – your happiness hangs in the balance.
  • Rinse and repeat. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said, “But I’ve done that, and I still feel the same way.” The goal is not to eliminate thoughts and feelings. Rather, bring a loving presence to them. See them, acknowledge them, then let them pass by while you stay stable in the fullness of your being. Do this every time they arise, and eventually they will soften. The pattern of unworthiness might have been with you for decades. Be patient. Give it time, and loving attention, and it will loosen its grip.

The opportunity is here, in this very moment, for happiness, peace, expansion, clarity, aliveness. There is no need to keep living in this secret hell. If you feel you are flawed and lacking, own it. Learn how to work intelligently with this experience. Ground yourself in the truth, and let the world see your shining face.

Feeling not good enough? Have you found your way through it? I’d love to hear…

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I consider myself unworthy of everything in the world


Social phobia has been tormenting me for about seven years now (I'm 19 now). I am tormented by a constant fear of communication, a persistent feeling of inferiority, inferiority does not let me go. In retrospect, I think that my full connection with the world was cut off due to the acute course of adolescence and the constant ridicule of my mother and cruel friend, who never forgot to point out my shortcomings to me (this is also the case with my mother). For them it's just a joke, but for me it's a big stress, because I believe in it. I am very sensitive to criticism. nine0003

I feel great just being in my room. I am not lonely at all, I have many hobbies, the most important of which is music, playing the guitar, writing songs. To be honest, objectively, I know that I have nothing to complex: I have an attractive appearance (due to being too strict with myself, I take care of my appearance very carefully), a standard slender figure, I am well-read, I have been told more than once that I am an interesting conversationalist (I'm popular on social media), I'm a great guitar player, I have a good ear, I speak English very well, I have a good sense of humor...

But this feeling of confidence and lightness goes away when I leave my room. Before I go to a small shop, a stone's throw from my house, I sit on the porch for about half an hour, intending to take it with the spirit - and go out. On the street, because of a nervous fear of seeming ridiculous, awkward, it really turns out that way, because I constantly stumble, stutter when I talk, and I speak very quietly. There is something wrong with walking. And for some reason I feel ugly at this moment, and, oddly enough, also fat (my weight is 47 with a height of 168). Going to the cinema, cafe or somewhere else is out of the question ... And for some reason I think that I am unworthy of this. It seems to me that I am unworthy of everything in the world ... My inner feeling when I am in public is a lousy, sick, small mongrel, unworthy of entering an elite kennel. Although this "kennel" is not something supernatural, but an ordinary cafe or music store. nine0003

A supermarket has been opened very close to my house for half a year already, I wonder what is inside, but I don’t dare to go there.. To make it easier for me, I put on make-up and styled my hair for an hour before leaving the house to look “worthy” . But I realized one thing: even if I looked like Angelina Jolie herself, it would hardly help. The reason is a huge fat worm deep inside.

My unbridled fear lives apart from the mind. I have already read many books and articles on this subject, watched all kinds of films. With my mind I understand everything, I know everything that I should behave so stupidly. I even carried out experiments, forcibly left the house, trying to talk, to talk to the people nearby in the store, at the bus stop. But I came across unfriendly people and this brought me even more pain and stress, and I closed myself even more ...

My only "social" outlet is the Internet. There I have a lot of friends from different parts of the world who love me. There I really am what I want to be: strong, unflappable, friendly, kind, caring. I have a great boyfriend there. I even warm with words and console people like me. But no one knows what huge problems I really have, everyone thinks that everything is rosy in my life. I have never told anyone about these problems.

Also, I lead a healthy lifestyle, in winter I don't even have a slight runny nose. But in the last two years, I was simply tormented by cystitis. I was treated a lot, I tried from folk remedies, to all kinds of pharmacy lotions. But nothing helps. And recently, having looked into the book of the wise Japanese healer Katuzu Nishi, I read that fears of communication, communication problems lead directly to the problems of the genitourinary system. I was simply shocked.

Last year I entered the university. I had to go to the opposite end of the city, I was mistaken, wandered until late at night, unable to ask for directions until I found it myself. I also had a bad environment at uni. Short segments of classes and very large windows between them, for an hour or two. Without making friends with anyone, I sat on the dark stairs, pretending to be very busy. People were walking up the stairs, hitting me with their feet. And once two guys walked by and there was such a dialogue:

- Fucking always wiping stairs with her ass!

- Yes, it's better to sit on the courts.

There were many more such situations that I'm working on for the next two weeks. I create such situations with my thoughts and attract to me in abundance, like a magnet. Six months later, I could not stand it and sat down at home, constantly lying to my mother that I was studying and attending classes (she constantly works).

Now is a turning point in my life.

I must muster up the courage to get a job to earn money for music equipment. Tell my mom that I dropped out of school, even though it threatens me with a scolding. nine0003

I want to do what I always wanted to do professionally. Music. I want to put together a group and lead it. The material is already ready, it needs to be implemented. I know and see how to arrange everything, but my social phobia holds me tight. The musical path of the group is complicated, here you have to be punchy, persistent, not turn off the course, be able to negotiate with an insane amount of people, not be afraid to submit your ideas. Then endure criticism.

And I'm afraid to go outside.

I know I'm too hard on myself. Too much. I look at people, overweight people with crooked legs, stupid, narrow-minded, but happy, joyful, bathed in love. And with my mind I understand that I should have all this. I'm even better than them in some ways. But fear...

People feel my insecurity and fear and avoid me, mock me. As a child, I was a completely fearless, mobile child. Happy. What happened to him...

More than anything, I want to become the "real" Kira. I would easily trade half my life for getting rid of fear. Let's say I live 60 years, but I would give half to be myself for at least 11 years. That Kira who is not afraid of anything new, she is strong. Which warms with its warmth and support of loved ones, which is not afraid to fight back, to protect itself and loved ones. Which is successful, bold. Who is happy...

The story turned out to be big.. Throughout the writing, I did not stop crying. I don’t even know why I wrote it and whether anyone will read all this. Although, it became much easier for me, because this is the only time in my life when I poured out my soul. And you know, it's great.

Hello Kira!

In your case, there is only one way out: to come to a long-term job with a psychologist. If desired, the problem can be solved.

All the best to you, I will be glad to be of service.


Related question

I'm afraid of everything (3 answers)

Hello Kira! But you know your real self - strong, supporting others, talented and smart. But such you in the virtual world and with yourself. And in the real world, you are another Kira. Afraid of everything, insecure and considering herself unworthy. These two parts of you are opposite, but both of them are yours and it is desirable for you to understand where they come from, how they interact with each other, why the real Kira cannot enter the real world. This requires work with a psychologist. You will understand a lot and learn how to regulate your states. Choose a psychologist and start getting to know yourself. Good luck to you! nine0003

Similar question

I consider myself unworthy of love (4 answers)

Hello Kira!

I read your letter with sincere interest: very intelligent, lively, subtle, real.

No need to give 30 years of your life, don't scatter! Start working with a psychologist - and be yourself as much as you like, even up to 100 years, even up to 110!

But to be more serious, I have the impression that you are already very close to solving the problem. You have done a lot of quality conscious work. Perhaps only a few steps are missing, to work with unconscious processes. And some more time - to get used to the new quality, to make it natural and familiar. nine0003

With sincere sympathy - good luck!

Similar question

I feel unworthy (1 answer)

Hello Kira!

You are not the first, you are not the last to be traumatized by inharmonious relations with parents, who sometimes try to solve their unresolved psychological problems at the expense of their children. It's sad, sad, but not fatal. You need serious, long-term psychotherapy. Long, because it is necessary to change the character (the usual way of responding to the outside world), and this cannot be changed quickly (after all, it has been formed over the years). But the changes are quite real and you can find your true self and live a joyful, happy life. Just don't be lazy and work on yourself. If you are in Almaty, then I invite you on September 25 to a therapeutic gestalt group, which is just created for people there to discover and solve their psychological problems, in particular problems of communication and relationships. All the best, Elena. nine0003

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I consider myself unworthy of a guy (1 answer)

Hello Kira.

The fact that you decided to write, "to pour out your soul", is already good. In fact, you don’t need to sacrifice half your life to be yourself, but you should find time and energy for serious and long-term (perhaps several years) work with a psychologist, psychoanalyst, in order to return to the world, to find that very " connection". Judging by your letter, such work could be of great benefit to you. It is not enough to know and read a lot, to understand your problem "with reason" - you need to learn how to build relationships, and the experience of "live" communication with a psychotherapist can be invaluable in your case. You feel free and confident on the Internet - where no one can see you, no one can "know" that it is you - you are afraid to show yourself to people. Why is it so scary for you and what to do about it - you can try to understand with a specialist. nine0003

I would recommend that you start with individual work and then work in a group.

Good luck to you!

Similar question

All my thoughts, only about the meaninglessness of everything in the world, about how wonderful it would be to die (6 answers)

Hello Kira.

This is how day after day, describing your events in life, your feelings, as you did in a letter, psychotherapy will go through, work to find yourself. nine0003

Tears, despair, bitterness, anger, pain. Joy, pleasure, love, hate. You will experience many emotions.

And without noticing how and when you will change, your virtual world will gently move into the real world. You will have real friends. They will see that you are "strong, unflappable, friendly, kind, caring."

Your life will be filled with real events

It remains to take one step, or rather two. nine0095 • Find a specialist
• Come to see a psychologist

Best regards, T.Sh.

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I love him more than anything (2 answers)

I feel superfluous | PSYCHOLOGIES

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Knowing Yourself A Man among People

“I feel out of place”, “I am not happy with anyone” - someone who constantly feels rejected, is distrustful of contacts with other people. The slightest inattention on their part makes you feel helpless again and again. “Once having experienced this painful feeling, such a person unconsciously expects that everything will happen again: he will be betrayed, abandoned,” explains existential psychotherapist Svetlana Krivtsova. nine0003

Trying to avoid such a development of events, each time he tests the relationship for strength and, as a result, he remains alone again. “Trying to arouse interest in himself, to please him, he gradually becomes dependent on the opinions and assessments of other people,” continues Svetlana Krivtsova, “and his suspiciousness simply exhausts those who are nearby. Relationships become formal, often full of hostility, and eventually end.” To live in constant expectation of a break is to provoke a break.

Child injury

“When I was four years old, my older brother became seriously ill and my mother sent me to stay with my grandmother for a few months,” says 29-year-old Yaroslav. “I was very worried: it seemed to me that I behaved so badly that my mother had to abandon me.

The fear of being abandoned first appears in childhood and is usually associated with sudden (often prolonged) separation from parents.

“Little children cannot understand the meaning of adults' actions and suffer from loneliness,” explains Svetlana Krivtsova. “The memory that you didn’t please your parents in some way and therefore turned out to be unnecessary remains for many years.” Those whom their parents really “abandoned” in childhood, without supporting them in a difficult situation, can also feel their abandonment. nine0003

“I am learning to talk about my feelings”

Valeria, 33 years old

“I know well what it means to be unwanted. When my little sister was born, my mother quit her job to take care of it. Maybe my fears appeared then? I always felt that I was not with them. At school, too, no one wanted to be friends with me, and as a teenager, I was absolutely sure that I was unworthy of love. And indeed, no one paid attention to me, I was invisible.

At some point, the feeling of rejection became too painful, but it helped me to see myself from the outside: I turned out to be so closed, gloomy. Now I try to be more sociable, to speak more openly about my feelings, to articulate more clearly what worries me. Surprisingly, my loved ones now talk about restraint and vulnerability as the best features of my strong character. nine0003

Early sacrifices

Sometimes parents force a child very early to take on “adult” responsibilities, to sacrifice their interests in favor of a brother or sister, and the child grows up, confident that no one cares about him. “We feel the most severe pain in those moments when we experience our own worthlessness,” says Svetlana Krivtsova. “If they do this, it means that it is possible with me, it means that I am not worthy of another.” Feeling “worst of all”, building relationships with others is excruciatingly difficult. There are unconscious "filters" through which the growing child "reinterprets" the world in his own way . .. and always not in his favor. nine0003

The ugly duckling

Some are constantly preoccupied with adjusting their behavior to the expectations of others. “The reason is the feeling “I ended up here by chance, I am an ugly duckling among white swans,” explains psychoanalyst Marie-Dominique Linder. - This painful feeling is especially strong in adolescence. The teenager is trying with all his might to hide his dissimilarity so that his peers do not push him away, do not expel him from his company. Becoming an adult means overcoming this crisis and asserting yourself as a person. nine0003

What to do?

Understand the "history" of your feeling

Try to remember when the painful feeling of rejection first arose. What event changed your attitude towards yourself? Once you understand this, you can begin to control your experiences.

Do not dramatize

Try to talk freely about your feelings, write down your story. Humor helps you connect with people. By saying what you feel, you will slightly weaken the power of the image in whose captivity you live. nine0003

Open up to people

Don't wait for someone to help you. It takes serious effort to build relationships. Take the first step by trying to see the other person as an ally rather than a potential offender.

Grow up

Accept as a fact that you are different from others (just like they are from you), and you do not need their approval to be yourself. By refusing to live dependent on the judgmental gaze of others, you can finally grow up. nine0003

Advice to a stranger

How can you help someone who feels rejected in any situation? In a conversation, focus on his opinion, emphasizing that his point of view is important to you. But at the same time, do not indulge, this will lead to the opposite effect: your interlocutor may feel dependent on you, which will increase his feeling of rejection, because you cannot be with him all the time.

Be sincere in your intentions.

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