Feeling Worthless: Why You Feel Like You’re Unworthy, And How To Beat It

Updated April 20, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Kelly Kampf

Feelings of worthlessness are common in people of all ages and all demographics. If you feel like you’re unworthy, like you don’t belong or don’t deserve something in your life, you are not alone. These feelings can affect people at all stages of life.

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This article will delve into some of the reasons behind feeling worthless, and what you can do to beat it. While these feelings aren’t uncommon, they are challenging, and can even be debilitating at times. Acknowledging the way you feel and seeking help is the first step to getting your confidence back. Because you are valuable, no matter what!

Remember, the best way to cope with a challenging time in your life is to get help. Talk to a professional therapist whenever you think you might need counseling. There is no such thing as a problem that’s too big, or too small, to seek help.

Feeling Worthless And Depression

According to the APA, “feelings of guilt or worthlessness” is one of the most common symptoms of depression. Someone who is suffering from depression may experience feeling worthless as their most prominent symptom. This can be challenging, because those feelings can encourage the sufferer not to get help, or can even lead someone to think they “deserve” the way they feel.

If you have a history of depression, it’s important to seek counseling. Feeling unworthy could be a sign of a severe depressive episode. Letting those feelings escalate can be crushing to your self-esteem, and make it difficult to through day-to-day tasks. In other words, feelings of worthlessness and depression can become a vicious cycle that is difficult to break. The best thing you can do is to recognize that these feelings are not your fault, and seek the help of a professional counselor as soon as possible.

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While feeling worthless is often associated with depression, it is not necessarily the cause. Feelings of worthlessness can strike in people who have never experienced depression. There are plenty of external stresses and challenges that can lead someone to feel worthless. The bottom line is: it’s never your fault!

Pressure To Succeed

The pressure to succeed is something we all face, particularly in our late teens and twenties. The stress of feeling like you need to succeed can hurt your self-esteem, make you feel like you’re not doing enough, and cause a lot of guilt.

Young people are faced with so many challenges: to get an education, to have a successful career, to find the perfect relationship, and start a family. And while it is practically impossible to do all those things at once, many people feel like they’re not succeeding if they’re not achieving everything they can. That’s one reason that people in their twenties can feel so lost.

Remember, everyone’s path through life looks different, and success doesn’t have to look a certain way. No one can do everything at once! Still, the pressure to succeed can lead a lot of people to feel worthless or guilty, regardless of where they are in life.

Feeling Unworthy In A Relationship

Have you ever felt like you don’t deserve your partner or spouse?

While it’s great to look at your partner in a positive light, feelings of guilt or worthlessness in a relationship can be really damaging. Perceiving your partner as “too good for you” or “better than you” is a sign of negative self-esteem, and not constructive to a positive relationship.

If you think your partner or spouse is encouraging your feelings of worthlessness, you should seek professional counseling. Statements like “you’re lucky I’m with you” or “you don’t deserve me” are often manipulative tactics, and can be a sign of low self-esteem in your partner or even an abusive relationship.

Big Changes Or Major Life Events

Major milestones and events in your life can also lead to feelings of worthlessness. Big changes challenge your perception and can cause you to view yourself differently.

Even events that are generally seen as positive, like a graduation, a big move, or a wedding, can lead you to doubt your self-worth. You may be wondering how you can adjust to this new stage in your life, feeling like you can’t live up to other people’s standards, or even like you can’t meet your own expectations.

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All those feelings are common, and in most cases, will pass over time. To maintain your self-esteem through big changes and life events, it can help to talk to people who are going through the change with you or have had similar experiences. Opening up about the way you feel is a great way to boost your confidence and remind yourself that you’re not going through this alone.

How To Beat Feelings Of Worthlessness And Boost Self-Esteem

Feeling worthless is never easy. It can seem like a very lonely struggle, and at times can even impact your day-to-day life. And while many people struggle with those feelings, getting over them can be a bigger challenge for some. Recovering your self-worth takes time, patience, and positive change.

The best thing you can do when coping with feelings of worthlessness or guilt is to talk to a therapist. Professional counseling is an amazing tool on the road to self-healing. That said, there are also some changes you can make yourself to help beat those negative feelings.

Here are a few methods for recovering your confidence and boosting your self-esteem:

1. Pay Attention To Your Feelings

Registering and understanding your feelings is a big step toward overcoming them. Guilt, doubt, and other negative feelings of self-worth generally won’t go away when you ignore them. Instead, pay attention to when those lows hit, and consider what’s going on in your life at the time.

You might be feeling unworthy as a result of some external stress, or because of internal turmoil like a struggle with depression. Understanding what’s causing your emotions can help you to recognize them as just that: emotions. Feeling unworthy is a natural reaction to other stresses in your life, and acknowledging that it is an important step toward treating it.

2. Look Back

If you’re struggling with self-doubt now, it might not be the first time. Try looking back on other points in your life when you felt this way. What was happening in your life then? Could the same stresses be causing your feelings now?

Going off that, it can also help to look back on the times in your life when you felt most confident. Remember, you are still the same person now that you were then—you still have just as much to feel grateful for and proud of. Focusing on the high points in your life can help you to recover feelings of hope and confidence.

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3. Get Some Exercise

Physical exercise is just as important to your mental health as it is to your physical health. Exercise can give you a rush of endorphins, boost your mood, and provide a sense of accomplishment.

That doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon or even join a gym—just a little physical activity every day can make all the difference. If you don’t like lifting weights, no worries. Consider jogging, biking, swimming, climbing, or even just walking. The more you exercise, the easier it will be—and that can help you to feel more confident over time.

4. Practice Mindfulness

“Mindfulness” can mean something different for everyone. In general, though, it means taking a step back to consider your own thoughts and feelings at the moment. Mindfulness can help you to break the cycle of self-doubt, and encourage you to look forward to growth and a more positive future.

There are plenty of ways to practice mindfulness. Meditation, journaling, and relaxation can all help. Whatever method you use, the key is to “step out” of your present state of mind and try to see the bigger picture. In the long term, practicing mindfulness can help you to remember that these feelings are only temporary.

5. Focus On The Little Things

The big picture can feel overwhelming. You may start to question whether you are achieving enough, whether you can be considered “successful,” if you have everything you want in life, etc.

When you’re feeling unworthy, it can help to focus on the little things instead of the big picture. Take each day one step at a time. Set small, achievable goals for yourself, and take pride in reaching them. Staying in the present and focusing on small, manageable things can help you to enjoy every day, instead of worrying over bigger accomplishments.

You Are Valuable

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Whatever is causing you to feel worthless, it’s important to remember that every person has value, no matter what. In your career, relationships, and personal life, you do matter.

Feelings of guilt, self-doubt, and sadness can make it hard to stay motivated and accomplish what you want in life. But they are temporary. With professional counseling and small changes to your daily routine, it is totally possible to recover your confidence and remember your self-worth.


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