Ah yes, that familiar feeling. ‘No matter what I do it’s/I’m never enough’.
The weight of being human is very heavy indeed. Some of us seem to breeze through, while others “always” feel that they can’t reach ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ is.
Low self worth is usually given its strength through deep-rooted personal issues, often ones we do not understand ourselves (hurrah for the subconscious experience, right?) which may also be exasperated by a long life of negative/harmful experiences.
When we look at the reasons why people might report low self worth, we encounter the notion of ‘hidden core beliefs‘; a set of beliefs established in our childhoods and born of innocent, unknowing minds.
An example of a negative core belief developed through childhood thinking:
Abandonment issues or issues with social closeness might occur if a child is exposed to their parent leaving abruptly and without their understanding – the core belief is that ‘the people I love most/need can leave me’ and this may shape and influence adult behaviours without the individual being consciously aware. The adult may seek to gratify these needs in adulthood.
While not true that all people will leave, a child’s mind can accept this as being the truth of the whole world and all people.
We may not ever realise how faulty these subconscious thoughts are or that they exist unless we aim to pay attention to why we feel as we feel; to question our true motivations.
We can re-programme our thinking to be more useful to us in the present.
Another reason we experience feelings of low self worth is ‘a negative internal monologue’. The voice of you in your head highlighting your imperfections.
We are evolutionarily programmed towards identifying our competitors and pointing out what they have that we don’t. In our modern world we have a different and more abundant food for that competitive beast, by way of witnessing other peoples ‘best self’ on the internet. If we are not mindful to avoid spending too much time in a comparative mindset where we judge what we don’t have as being more valuable than what we do or more necessary. We can convince ourselves we are not successful because our lives do not surmount to the manufactured brilliance, of the online generation.
Critical people can be devastating to how a person feels about themselves. When we feel low especially, we receive criticism differently and more sensitively. This can cause us to react and be left with an extra side order of guilt and imperfection. Additionally some people are naturally more sensitive to the judgements of others or are excruciatingly socially conscious/receptive leading them to discomfort, concern or upset more readily.
Our childhood relationships can be trying. They teach us fundamentally who we are and where we fit into the world. All that follows may influence how we develop but much of our pre-memory years will play a role in how we interpret people and ‘things’ around us. I refer to pre-memory as the building blocks phase. Everything we understand now is built upon the foundations we had in those early, vulnerable years.
Growing up in a nice home where you are fed, clothed and have your basic survival needs met does not necessarily mean you feel appropriately valued, loved or approved of as a child.
We can feel that our parents prefer our siblings and whether our assumptions are faulty or not, we are left feeling not enough.
You are grade four on piano but your brother is grade 8
You made a cute pasta necklace but your sister did a cuter dance
You want mum to come to your sports day because she went to your sisters but she can’t and that hurts.
We don’t understand that not being as skilled and not being as social is separate from being loved or perceived well. Calendar clashes and external obligations may also be behind these outcomes, but they’re outside of the child’s visible and mental scope.
Instead we internalise the thoughts as judgements on our comparative worth or value to those around us.
We can also feel the pressures of our parents wishes for us. If our parents want us to be more skilled in a particular ability, no matter how good we get or regardless of our liking that skill; we perceive to have let our parents down and failed; once again we are not good enough.
When our parents have experienced trauma themselves or have addictions or distractions, they may be totally unable to provide or know what to provide or recognise a child’s needs. This can lead to toxic, unhealthy, or co-dependent relationships between carers and children.
When we have parents who do not connect with us well in our early lives, we can develop issues with attachment and personality. Sadly many of us choose to seek familiarity and may find ourselves with similar types of people or similar types of issues to our parents.
Your own trauma.
Your own trauma is the epicentre of your darkest vibrations. Your own fears of inadequacy are what plague your mind and bring you this feeling of not being good enough. Your trauma may have occurred in adult life or been growing through your earlier experiences, maybe you didn’t realise until you were grown, but either way…
We do not have to be defined by our histories.
We can choose to take away power from those harmful memories.
We can choose who we want to be and take steps every single day to get there.
The real question is not about how to become good enough for the rest of the world, rather, ‘How can I become good enough for myself?’
I will be working on sharing self-help practises and guides for as long as I can find potential ways to help support you all (hopefully).
This coming month I wanted to look at shadow work, a tool for personal development and self relief.
If working through your history doesn’t seem like your kind of therapy don’t be disheartened – If you travel deeply enough once, you can let go completely, moving forward with a deeper and more useful understanding of who you are.
Sources of help – always someone to talk to
UK based helplines – Has a number for everything from relationship issues through to addictions, grief, disability etc.
Samaritans – United Kingdom
Suicide prevention lifeline – National, United States
Suicide Prevention Australia