How are you doing with recognizing your own self worth? Answer these quick questions to help determine if you struggle with feeling unworthy.
1. When something exciting happens in your life (a promotion, a new relationship, meeting a fitness goal), do you ever feel like someone else deserved it more?
2. If someone is handing out a freebie you really want at an event, do you speak up and ask for it? Or do you stay quiet because someone else probably needs it more?
- Speak up
- Stay quiet
3. It’s your birthday and someone gave you a really thoughtful gift, how do you respond?
- Wow, thank you!
- You really shouldn’t have.
- Um, this is the wrong color!
If you answered mainly Bs, you might have an underlying tendency towards feeling unworthy. How do I know? Because those would be answer I chose before putting in some work on that. In my mind I like to call it getting stuck in the Cave of Unworthiness. I’m not sure if I read that somewhere or made it up myself, but either way I really want to help you get out of the cave!
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
It’s dark in there!
Unworthiness tells us that we are somehow less deserving of things than other people. And we’re talking about abstract things like love, attention, happiness, as well as concrete things like food, comfort, sleep. When a friend says, “I’m never gonna find love, I’m just not cut out for it” what she is really saying is, “I’m worried that I’m intrinsically not worthy of being in a fulfilling relationship.”
Or if your other friend said, “I didn’t run yesterday, so I don’t deserve to eat lunch today,” he’s communicating, “I’m not worthy of a normal eating schedule just based on owning a body.” Drawing these conclusions pulls us deeper and deeper into the Cave of Unworthiness until we can’t even see the sunlight at the opening.
From time to time I think we’re all going to have moments where we feel less than adequate. Yet the way we respond internally makes a huge difference. When I’m stuck in the Cave of Unworthiness and I make a mistake, I feel that so keenly as a pronouncement of who I am. I am a screw up. Who am I to think I could succeed? Someone outside the Cave, experiencing the same set back, would probably think, “Welp, that didn’t work. Let’s try something else.” See the huge difference between the two attitudes?
Feeling unworthy can creep in unnoticed
One of my absolute favorite shows on Netflix is Queer Eye (the reboot, I’ve never seen the original so I can’t vouch for it). I love watching the Fab 5 swoop in and change the life of a deserving person. Season after season, so many of their heroes are carrying around these feelings of unworthiness.
These men and women have no energy, time, or inclination to take care of themselves after looking out for everyone else. Sometimes it manifests as personal hygiene struggles. Other times, as ignoring health or fitness needs. It also shows up as living in an messy space.
In fact, feeling like you don’t deserve to spend money or time on self care can contribute to this spiral down in the Cave. As the Fab 5 shows them what some self love feels like with a little trip to the salon or putting on clothes that fit well, the hero starts to feel human again. They realize they do deserve these things. They even learn to speak up for themselves and show their new found self worth.
Negative influences can leave you feeling unworthy
Take stock of relationships in your life too. Is there someone who you let speak negativity into your soul? Have you allowed someone the power to push you into this Cave? Sometimes it happens subtly, until before you know it, you’re stuck in the dark. I absolutely have given over my self worth to the care of unloving people before. Think about if they respect your opinion or brush your ideas aside. Without proper boundaries, this can really take a toll and leave you feeling unworthy.
There aren’t levels of “deserving”
And that’s the thing: we all deserve to feel loved, happy, fulfilled. Of course you want to provide that to those you care about. But you know who needs to be highest on that list? You. One hundred percent, no doubt about it, you have to come first. At the end of the day, you are responsible for the person who you become. Not your spouse, not your mom, Y.O.U.
They don’t deserve it more than you. You are not called upon to pour yourself out to satisfy anybody. But this work has to come from within.
Until you see your own self worth, it will be hidden from many others as well.
First steps out of the Cave are always the hardest
First I want you to forgive yourself for letting yourself down. Yes, literally say, “I’m sorry for letting you down [your name], for not always taking care of you emotionally/physically because I didn’t think you were worth it. Thank you for always being there, I’m going to treat you better from now on.” If you can look in the mirror and say that, even better. In all honesty, I had to work up to being able to look at myself while I said it.
Feel that warmth of self compassion? You aren’t bad or broken or awful for feeling unworthy. In fact, it’s possible your motives were noble, but they didn’t get you were you thought they would. As you forgive yourself, also say, “I am worthy of love. I am worthy of taking up space. I am worthy of existing and belonging.” (Does this sound like positive affirmations? Yes, yes it does! Consider adding an affirmation based on worthiness to add to your daily practice if it’s something you are working on).
You are worthy. Totally and Completely Worthy!
Did you say it? That’s huge. HUGE! How did it feel? If it’s not time to be able to say that yet, keep working on it. Feel curious about how it would feel to vocalize and believe it. My chiropractor was the first person who introduced this idea to me, and I literally couldn’t choke out the words at that point in my journey. No pressure, no stress. Keep practicing, start small, and don’t give up.
Changing this attitude, this internal conversation, has the power to change your life. Gosh, that sounded so cliche but I am completely serious right now. Once you believe you deserve a life you love, your Cave of Unworthiness will explode into a million pieces, leaving you bathed in the light of day. I challenge you to take that first step out of the dark today. You’ve got this!
Loved this! I am all for self-worth and self-love!
Thank you!! <3
negative influences are super dangerous, try to avoid them at all times. thanks for sharing! great post
Yes we have to watch out for them! Thank you! 🙂
Matt Tayor says
With the way social media is these days, it is easy for people to feel unworthy. So many negative influences. Staying positive is a must, because we are definitely worthy of those good things that come into our lives!
I love this post so much. I’m usually a fairly confident person, but I have had bouts of this in the past. I know some people who struggle with feelings of being unworthy on a daily basis. It’s a heavy weight to bear.
THE JOYOUS LIVING entertainment + disabled blogger (@thejoyousliving) says
Thank you for that. i am sure most women and men who come to your blog will be needing to read this. you too are worthy. God bless you.
Christine Weis says
It’s so important to know and feel worthy of yourself and not look for validation of your self worth in unhealthy ways. This is especially important for young women. Thank you for sharing this! You are WORTHY!
I doubt myself all the time, so I appreciate this post. I am working on believing in myself more.
Love this so much. We are all worthy.
You have some great points, I do belive that we all could give some extra thoughts to self-worth and self-love!
I think we should all be doing periodic checks on our sense of worthiness. I had a real reckoning this year when it came to worthiness. I thought I was at a better place than I actually was. I received new stimuli and it revealed to me that I needed to work on feeling more worthy and recognizing that I am indeed worthy by virtue of being!
Isn’t it fascinating (and sometimes aggravating) how our growth journey includes steps forward and back? I am proud of you for doing the work, you are so worthy of it!!
I thought I was doing better at this until I took your quiz! My mind knows better than to go there now, but my heart still falls for it. It’s a work in progress! This is all great stuff to keep in mind.
Kristine Nicole Alessandra says
There are times that I do have this feeling, but thankfully, I am able to snap out of it. However, lately, I find myself having more and more of these thoughts. It could just be anxiety brought about by this pandemic. Thanks for sharing this post.
Kristine I think this pandemic would bring the anxiety on for sure! I hope all of us can find some peace. Thanks for sharing!
Meki (Redefining Us) says
We really have to take time to know who we are in Christ – I’ve found that this is the best way to be grounded on our worth and identity.
That is absolutely one way people find their identity and worth, thank you for sharing!
Lucy Clarke says
Our self-talk plays such an important role in this. It is essential to make a conscious effort to improve how we perceive ourselves and let go of any limiting beliefs.
Oh yes, I love that you mentioned limiting beliefs! They are so intertwined.
Knowing your worth and having the confidence is really important. I’d love to share this with someone I know who’s a little low on self esteem.
JP, thank you for reading & I’d love for you to pass it along! I want to help as many people as I can with what I’ve learned along the way. <3
Emman Damian says
Sometimes it can be filled with negativities but I never doubted myself. Feeling unworthy can creep in unnoticed and I agree with that. So we need to maintain optimism all the time!
A great article to post especially now with the world in a state of unrest and uncertainty. Important to remember that there are no levels of “deserving” as I do sometimes forget that.
Elizabeth O says
Indeed. We are all flawed and worthy of love, respect, and to be heard. Enjoyed your post.