How low self-worth impacts you and what you can do about it

Low self-worth is a set of strong beliefs about yourself based on unresolved past experiences. For example, being told constantly that you were naughty or bad as a child; that your parents believed that you would never be good enough to go to university; that you were to blame for everything; being ignored, would all have an impact on how you view yourself. 

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What is low self-worth?  

We act as sponges for all that we were told implicitly or explicitly; particularly as children. Children have a tendency to blame themselves for everything that happens but if that is reinforced by adults then we take on the belief that we will never be 'good enough.'

The primary emotion that drives low self-worth is shame.  If we have been made to feel ashamed in our past then this strong belief that you are a bad person will carry through everything that you do. As children, we might have experienced abuse, trauma, neglect.  Having parents that are separated or were emotionally absent parents can all lead a child to believe that they are not worthy of love or not good enough and this manifests in low self-worth.

The core beliefs of low self-worth are: 

  • I am unlovable
  • I am unworthy
  • I am unsafe
  • I am not seen or heard.

These core beliefs will be triggered over and over if we don't get to the root of them and begin to heal.  Many of us stumble through our days without really believing that we are good enough.  We interpret bad things that happen as our fault or that we are defective in some way.  We are not even aware that this is happening.

Low self-worth can be triggered by and manifest in:

  • Work issues
  • Personal boundaries
  • Self-blame
  • Blaming others
  • Relationship issues
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Addictions

Example: your boss cuts your hours at work.  When you have low self-worth you instantly believe that this must be because you are not doing a 'good enough' job.  "I am unworthy." But what if it’s really the case that the business is suffering because of the economic climate and it’s not personal at all?  

Or maybe you have a friend that continually asks for favours.  You have work and kids and don’t always have the time to help.  It might be that you want to keep the friend and want them to think that you are a good person, therefore you say "yes" every time.  Your boundaries are low because you want people to like you.  This validates you, but you still feel not quite 'good enough'. "I am unloveable". 


How can you help your low self-worth?

There are ways that you can help yourself by learning more about the following:

  • Self-compassion
  • Developing stronger boundaries
  • Ways to improve your confidence
  •  Journaling your thoughts and feelings

A therapist can help you to understand where your low self-worth comes from and help you to find ways in which you can begin to value yourself.  Being aware of your thought process and what might be underlying your thoughts and emotions can begin to unravel the limiting beliefs about yourself.  Beginning to be kinder to yourself in a more compassionate way can help you to treat yourself as you would a loved one.  Seeking help for these areas can eventually dispel the deep core beliefs. 

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, SK23
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Written by Samantha Flanagan, (BA Hons, PGDIP, Registered member of BACP)
Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, SK23

I am a registered member of BACP with a level 7, PGdip in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy. I have been in private practice for five years. I am qualified to work with many issues which include but are not limited to: emotional abuse, trauma, anxiety, depression, substance mis-use, developmental trauma, domestic violence.

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