The Mixed Reality of Low Self-Worth: How We Protect Ourselves From the Pain
Do you know what low self-worth really feels like? It’s a complex experience, not one of pure self-hatred and unabated feelings of worthlessness. We form a psychological buffer to protect ourselves from the pain of having low self-worth, leaving us with a confused, mixed, obscured experience of where we really stand with ourselves, and other people.
Our lived experience of having cripplingly low self-worth is often mixed. We ‘know’ on some level that we have good qualities. We comfort ourselves with awareness of having some redeeming features, recognising traits typically around being caring, or being good at doing certain things. This shields us from knowing the true and terrible depths of our low self-regard, judgement, criticisms, and treatment. The comfort of denial is a trap – softening the blow to keep you locked in the pain.
The only way to completely set yourself free is to understand how poorly you both think of, and treat, yourself. Here’s where to look…
Rather than looking inside, focus on what is (and has been) happening all around you – present and past. Are you treated well? Loved, cherished, respected, prized, advocated for, prioritized, understood, forgiven, protected, empathized with, and valued in your life? Those things are needed around you, if you are to feel high self-worth inside you. You cannot love yourself unless someone has loved you, and you cannot receive love if you don’t love yourself. How do you break this cycle? Don’t be afraid of the truth, the real enemy is your fear.
– In your thoughts: What are you saying about yourself? Are your thoughts kind, compassionate, and accepting – or harsh, critical, and self-judgemental? Would you speak to other people the way you speak to yourself?
– Your behaviour: How do you relate to others? Put up a wall to protect yourself or reach out for your needs? Are you overly concerned about what others think of you? Do you give your power away to others, basing your worth on their judgements or treatment of you? – maybe even random people you don’t know well, or don’t particularly like?
– Your feelings: What emotions do you feel the most? Are they predominantly ones of sadness, loneliness, emptiness, and despair – or happiness, joy, and love?
When you look at your life through this lens, it’s easier to gauge the true measure of your self-worth. Healthy self-worth isn’t developed by strengthening the buffer of denial or trying to shoehorn affirmative thoughts or actions into a deeper, bedrock of unconsciousness self-hatred. Sadly, such efforts will be transient at best, futile at worst. You are most likely to continue having mixed internal experiences, and poor external ones.
Face your low self head-on – confront the dreadful reality of the cruel enemy within. The shock might just set you free!