Discover five things to try when you feel less than loveable.
Have you ever felt unworthy or unloved? Maybe it's a tightness in your chest when you worry that your life will be spent alone. Or a sick, sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you have been overlooked, ignored, or rejected. Negative emotions warp self-perception and can lead to unhealthy behaviors or even prolonged periods of depression.
If you've experienced intrusive, self-deprecating thoughts, you are not alone. We all need reminders from time to time that our lives have purpose. Everyone is worthy of love.
Five Things to Do Today to Improve Your Sense of Self-worth.
1. Start by loving yourself.
Self-love isn't the same as being selfish, narcissistic, or self-centered. You are allowed to love who you are. Love all your imperfections because there is no one in the world exactly like you. Your body, your thoughts & your heart are beautifully unique.
Dedicate the front pages of your journal to writing down positive experiences or moments in the day when you felt proud of your accomplishments. Jot down the names of friends and family that love and support you. Also, list things you love about yourself, such as your sense of humor, your survival instinct, and your smile. Try to see yourself outside the judgmental lens of pain by viewing the person in the mirror as a friend or, at the very least, a decent human being.
2. Develop a self-care routine.
A consistent self-care routine is a tangible way to improve your sense of worth. You will need to brainstorm activities that cultivate joy and centeredness. It's helpful to think about your five senses (taste, smell, touch, sight, sound) and what things are pleasing to those senses. For example, if the scent of lavender comforts you, then burn lavender incense or spray your pillow with the fragrance before bed.
Some self-care routines you can easily add to your day might include meditation, healthy eating, movement like Yoga, Tai Chi, or a gentle walk through your neighborhood.
The benefits of having a daily self-care routine are numerous. You’ll find that your appearance will improve, you’ll be more productive at work or with your personal goals, and boost your self-confidence.
3. Let go of unhealthy relationships.
Sometimes your sense of worth is tied up with the wrong person. Negative self-image or negative self-talk may have come from an authoritative figure as a child or from a current friendship or love interest that is unhealthy. If your intuition is nudging you away from someone but you are hesitant to cut ties, ask yourself these questions:
When I'm having a wonderful day or receive good news, do I want to share it with this person?
If you anticipate a negative response to your happy moments and feel a need to protect yourself, then it's time to seek out someone who recognizes your worth.
Has this person exploded on me when I accidentally said or did the wrong thing?
We all have flaws. However, choosing to spend time with someone who is overly critical, judgmental, or defensive when you disagree with them is a sign that your self-esteem has taken a hit from a toxic relationship. These people are uncomfortable to be around because they demand superiority.
Are they intimidating to be around?
If it feels like they want to put you in your place, insult, humiliate or manipulate you, then you are in an unhealthy relationship. Their lack of respect isn't going to change, and you have to let go.
Unfortunately, the problem of low self-worth doesn't automatically go away along with the unhealthy person. It's easy to fall into a cycle of continuous toxic relationships if you don't fully embrace the truth that you deserve to be happy.
Be gentle with yourself and know that it takes courage to leave a bad relationship. If you are in an abusive situation, you will need to take extra steps to protect yourself. Although you may not feel ready, you must reach out for help. If possible, call your doctor for a mental health appointment, and obtain the resources you need to leave your abuser.
4. Practice Forgiveness.
Part of not feeling worthy is the denial of pain. It may be that someone has hurt you, or maybe you have treated yourself cruelly; either way, the self-confidence gained by practicing forgiveness is the same. As a forgiving person, you have the skills to handle difficult people and stressful events.
When you forgive yourself or someone else, you acknowledge there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Forgiveness doesn't mean that you condone the hurtful behavior or that you will tolerate mistreatment. Instead, forgiveness is a channel to release anger and resentment through. Just as your heart can’t pump blood when there is a blockage, holding a grudge against a perceived enemy prevents love to flow freely.
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” ~Nelson Mandela
To remove the “blockage,” you will need to open up in a vulnerable way and see the situation from a new perspective. Empathy is the ability to understand where the other person is coming from. Stress, a difficult childhood & emotional immaturity are a few examples of why you or another person behaved the way they did. That doesn’t mean the hurtful thing was acceptable, but it does mean that a flawed person made poor decisions or reacted the only way they knew how to.
When you practice forgiveness, you will feel genuine compassion in your heart for yourself or the “enemy.” Then you don’t have to live with the pain and hatred anymore. Forgiveness is difficult & personal, but the rewards far exceed the effort.
5. Set Boundaries.
Your self-worth and personal boundaries are deeply connected. Establishing clear boundaries involves identifying your values. When someone has pushed beyond an emotional boundary, you may feel like a doormat. And, when a physical boundary has been crossed, you may feel violated.
First, set healthy boundaries by writing down acceptable behaviors and unacceptable behaviors for yourself and your relationships. (Romantic Relations, Friends, Coworkers, Family, etc.)
Next, communicate your boundaries in simple terms. You don't need to give a long explanation, just state what you want or don't want. For example, “Please don't hug me. I need space.”
Finally, define consequences. If someone fails to acknowledge your boundaries, follow with a consequence to the behavior. For example, even though you've clearly stated that a personal conversation needs to be held in quiet confidence, your friend decided to put your private life on blast anyway. A secret was not kept, and now you feel betrayed. If trust is one of your values, a natural consequence may be to find someone else whom you can trust.
I recommend checking out one of Terri Cole's books or blog posts on boundaries for a deeper dive into the topic.
You are precious and worthy of loving healthy relationships.