9 interesting facts I bet you never knew about self-worth

 In Comfort Eating, Relationships

self worth

“I’m stupid,”  “They don’t like me,” or “I’m bad at this” 

These kinds of thoughts happen to all of us on a daily basis, in the unconscious.

Self-worth is the most common thing talked about in therapy. We all grapple with it.

Often, what you’re dealing with here is the core belief that “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t belong.”  We all have these beliefs and thoughts. 

There are lots of reasons for this. So, here  I’m going to introduce you to what self-worth is, and how a lack of self-worth occurs. Understanding what these reasons are is the first step to being able to change that way of thinking.

  • Neuroscience. One reason is the way our brains are wired. Neuroscience tells us that the reward system in the brain, and the parts relating to the sense of self, relate strongly with the self-esteem parts. Brain imaging also shows us that, left idle, the brain tends to go towards shame, the self critic and judgement.
  • Culture. Self worth is also bound up with our culture. Normal everyday life can easily invoke this kind of belief or thought. We are often thinking that  we could do better. For example, in keeping a child safe or happy, we unconsciously tell ourselves that we could always do better at this job. Partly out of protection and fear.
  • Dominance. As well as this, there is a belief that we must be the best in our culture. It’s in our physiology to aspire to being dominant, for survival. This can lead to all kinds of self deprecation if we are not. 
  • Shame. The fear of not belonging can come from shame. Where the function of shame is to keep you quiet so you ‘fit in’. It comes from needing to belong in a community to survive. Shame shuts the system down. It’s numbing, and it makes us wonder if we are inadequate.
  • Social Media. Then, we also have a constant stream of messages that we are not good enough in the media and social media. Passively using Social Media (following, scrolling, liking,etc) provokes social comparison and envy, or approval seeking. 
  • Media. But, also the trend for articles about ‘The 7 things that will fix you’ inherently make us feel inadequate and unable to receive any help, when those 7 things do not fix us. Being human is just not as simple as that. 
  • Good or bad. We automatically think it’s our great qualities that make people love us. But, that’s not actually the truth of it. It’s more complex and instinctive than that. This is a common sentiment that we often hear: 

“I’m good because I ate this way and weigh this way”

Or

“I did something bad; therefore I am bad” 

We assume an association with what we are and what we do. We equate being a good or bad person with the good or bad that we do for our bodies.

  • Reaction. Feeling inadequate in some way is an unconscious reactive feeling. We never stop wanting to be validated and to fit in. It’s normal.

 

Childhood

Of course, it may also be that you learned to feel bad about yourself from an early age, because of the conditional love of your primary caregivers. In this case, you may ask yourself how old were you when you first thought you weren’t good enough in some way? If your story is chronic, it’s likely that this feeling came first when you were very young.

The body brings back memories into the present over and over again, triggered slightly by anything similar. You could have interpreted not being good enough and not fitting in from different events in your history. From the perceived rejections of childhood, and even birth. You could have interpreted disapproval rom any criticisms or ideals that you felt you had to live up to in any of your relationships. 

This disapproval is registered and then becomes internalised. We can never get enough approval. In daily life, when your self-esteem takes a hit, you will usually find it reflected in the way your family communicates.

When you see people who are married to someone disapproving, you might wonder, did their Mum or Dad show that they valued them? Often behind an affair will be something similar. An affair is often about seeking approval for parental lack of care and attention. Every new lover is another opportunity to get the love we always wanted.

Thinking we are not good enough comes from trying to adhere to other people’s values, either historically, or in the present. Generally, most of us try to please others. 

But self-esteem, like any other human feeling, is also fleeting. Who really has the power to judge us? It’s not our doctor, our teacher, our parents, our partner, or our boss. 

It’s really only us. 

Next week I’ll show you ways to change how you feel about yourself. I’ll show you genuine ways to shift the thoughts of not being good enough. So, stay tuned!

Listen to my podcast for more: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1397278/8782183-interesting-facts-i-bet-you-never-knew-about-self-worth.mp3?download=true 

You can check out other podcast here: https://www.bristolcounselling.co.uk/read-listen/recovery-from-podcast/

Citations

Some ideas here were inspired by a Nicabm training on working with anxiety. You can buy your full training programme here