Worthlessness – What Caused It and How I Overcame It

Good morning. It is early and the sun has not yet begun to rise. I am in a pensive mood today, wondering if I need to let go of my dream to be a speaker and a coach, and focus my energy and attention elsewhere, on another opportunity that has arisen. I saw the search term of “what causes worthlessness” and decided to write about that today.

Most of my life has been spent with the feeling of worthlessness. In my case, it began when I was told most every day that I was worthless. I was told that because I did not excel at intellectual pursuits like my two sisters. Rather, I was of an artistic nature and excelled at writing and other creative endeavors. Those things were not valued by my father, however, who was an intellectual type himself.

The effect that being called worthless had on my later life was devastating. It always was underlying any attempt to better myself, any attempt to heal and to grow. It hit me the most and became known to me when I was drunk. There were many times when all I could do was sob – kean actually, if that’s the right word for it. It was sobbing and wailing at the same time. It was miserable and always left me spent emotionally.

Although when I stopped drinking and got sober the sobbing and wailing stopped, the feelings of worthlessness I carried were always underlying everything I did. They always surfaced and I felt defeated. Even when I worked in a high-level job for State government and initiated a program that got very ill and medically-fragile children out of the hospital ICU and into the home with hourly nursing care, I felt that feeling of worthlessness. Nothing I did was ever good enough.

Today, I do not feel that worthlessness. In fact, I feel like a worthy and worthwhile person. How did that happen? Well, the first thing that happened was I got sober. That allowed me to really feel my worthless feelings and after several years in sobriety, an incident occurred that led to my healing.

I was at a meeting and heard a man share about the emotional turmoil he was experiencing. What he said struck a chord with me, and I went to talk to him after the meeting. I listened as he further described his feelings, and then I relayed my experience with early abuse, and how I had begun to heal from it. I relayed books I had read which were helpful. I offered my therapist’s name and number. I offered understanding and kindness.

He was so grateful for my input that he almost cried. As I walked to my car, I realized I had been of use to him. Relaying my experiences and how I had begun to heal had helped him. In a flash, it hit me that talking about these things to another person was of use, of service. Suddenly, my life and all my experiences had a purpose, and my feelings of worthlessness began to heal in that instant, as I began to see myself as a worthwhile person.

It took a few more years to fully overcome my feelings of worthlessness, and I worked diligently to identify them when they surfaced. I engaged in positive self-talk when they came up, reminding myself I was a person of worth simply because I am on this planet. Today, I occasionally feel worthless, but it is a rare occasion, and I can work my way out if it.

It has been my experience that feelings of worthlessness can begin to resolve by being of service to another, to others. Further healing can occur when positive self-talk is used to combat those feelings when they arise. The reward is feeling whole, feeling happy.

Do you deal with feelings of worthlessness? If you do, I send my deepest compassion, for I know how debilitating it can be. I invite you to try being of service to another, and from that, gain appreciation for who you are as a person at your core, for at your core, you are a worthy and worthwhile person.




Overcome Worthlessness with Grief Recovery

It is with a great deal of experience in the area of worthlessness that I write today. i.e., it is something with which I am quite intimate. You see, every day or so throughout childhood, I was called worthless, told I would never amount to anything. I grew up and flew the nest with that belief firmly stamped into my deep sub-consciousness.

This is how I started the blog that I planned to post yesterday. It ended up being 950 words, and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to post such a long one, filled with a great deal of personal experience that I thought you’d find boring. I was afraid it would be too much. Confused, I took no action…

Interesting. I wonder how much of my inability to edit it down has to do with the effect that feelings of worthlessness have on me today, which make it difficult to speak about it without getting carried away. In other words, I believe that I still hold some feelings of worthlessness and they come up for me from time to time. Oh, I have made great headway. Example… in days past, I would forget to post, or not get to it, and I’d feel like a failure, worthless. I no longer go there.

Enough about me. At least you understand why I didn’t post yesterday and I hope you returned today for the post on worthlessness.

Before I write about that, I want to acknowledge all the Veterans who are reading this post and say thank you for your service. You have made a sacrifice that will affect you for the rest of your lifetime, and I want you to know that I recognize that, and am especially appreciative of what you did to help our country.

On to our topic… Webster defines worthlessness as being without value, without merit or worth. Worth is defined as that quality of a person that lends importance. I believe that we each have something of importance to bring to the world. I believe that at our core, we are each inherently good people, filled with worth.

Even though I believe this, I struggle some days with feelings of worthlessness, days in which I feel of no importance or value to anyone or anything. On these days, I have to consciously talk myself through it, reminding myself over and over that when my father called me worthless, it was a lie. Also, I consider that he said it, but meant it about himself, not me. I find I can them go to the affirmation of “I am worthy and worthwhile.”

I know the feelings of worthlessness I hold go deep within my being. So it was with interest that I decided to get help through this. An opportunity came along to be coached in a grief recovery program. What I have discovered is as expected… continued feelings of worthlessness, the grief from the feelings of worthlessness. I never even thought to look at what losses I endured as a result of those words. So I have been looking at that.

The losses I’ve identified so far are loss of self-respect, loss of all beliefs that I am a good person, loss of a positive image, loss of ability to receive acknowledgment or  compliments about me and my work. I imagine more will surface. Next, the process involves allowing myself to feel those losses, the grief from losing those things. I then make a choice to let the worthless feelings go.

The next part of the grief process involves choosing one person with whom I wish to get closure, to put to bed my feelings of worthlessness. I, naturally, chose my father and his calling me worthless all those years.

As I explore my feelings, I come to a place of forgiveness for him. I get there by realizing that he was a wounded person when he said that, and I feel compassion for his woundedness. From that place of compassion, I have been able to reach forgiveness for him.

My assignment for the week is to write a letter of closure, putting to bed my feelings of worthlessness, breaking the connection of my father’s words with my current-day reality. I will be working on that today and tomorrow, so can report back on what I discovered through the process.

What about you? What wounds have you endured in life that have led you to develop feelings of worthlessness? Take a look at that/those and see how it/they manifest in your life. Then, identify all the losses you have experienced as a result of those feelings of worthlessness. Allow yourself to look at them, to feel them. Acknowledge the hurt you felt every time you were told you were worthless, or whatever it was that led you to develop worthlessness.

Then tell yourself that is not who you were or are at your core, the center of your being. Step outside of yourself for a minute and picture your outer self smiling to you, the real person. Smile with great knowingness that you are a person of great worth, with value to share with the world. Smile with deep belief and understanding that you are filled with worth and value, value to yourself and to others. When you slip into worthlessness, return to that place of knowingness. Gradually, you will find your feelings of worthlessness are fading away.

Well, I have managed to write another long post today, and I’m going to let it stand. I’ll return, hopefully tomorrow, to let you know how the letter-writing went. Remember your mantra for the day… “I am a person of great value and worth.”



How to Do a Performance Appraisal of Yourself

Today it is time for a performance appraisal of yourself, a search of self. This is the next topic in the book. It is the second reference to looking at yourself, your behavior and your actions. The first was in the blog about honesty.

Search of Self

But this time, when doing an appraisal, take a look at yourself with the eyes of the soul. You are looking for your heart, right in the middle of everything you are, which is sometimes muddled, sometimes messy.

We are all human. We all have swirls and shadows, shades of tan and rust… darkness and light. Do you recognize and acknowledge your humanness, your good, your bad?

You see, resiliency of spirit lies in the ability to see yourself as a falable human being, who is not perfect, who makes mistakes. The beauty of it all is that among all these swirls and shadows, your heart is there in the middle, shining brightly, truthfully. It knows the truth of who you are.

All you have to do is find it, to feel it. In your heart, you know when you are treating yourself or another poorly. You know. So, after being honest with yourself about it, you can do a  do-over, a retake. You can get humble and apologize.

How do you apologize when, during a performance appraisal of yourself, you find that you have wronged yourself? You can acknowledge it, first of all. Then, you can see yourself with compassion, trying to get to the root of why you are treating yourself poorly. Is it an old message of worthlessness that plagues you? Do you not feel worthy of better treatment, taking good care of yourself?

Once you ferret out the reasons behind your poor treatment of yourself, be sure to apply compassion, but not humiliation. Do not beat yourself up. Smile at the small and child-like person you were when you did whatever it was you did, or did not do. Like I said before, apologize and change your behavior.

This applies to the appraisal of yourself, as well as to an appraisal of how you treat others. They key is willingness to look at yourself, again and again, and to correct what you find. You will always find darkness. But it is changeable, if you choose.

There is always light, also. Always. And sometimes you have to find the courage to recognize and admit to your positive points. If you were bullied or told you were no good at any point in your life, this may be difficult. Stick with it; it will come with time and commitment.

To find the recesses of your heart and its kind and gentle nature, it always helps to ask that greater power to assist you in your search.

Do you have trouble finding the bright knob of your heart when you do a performance appraisal of yourself? What does it feel like for you to acknowledge your goodness? How about your dark side? Can you adjust your thoughts and behavior when the dark side comes out?

Can you let your heart overrule that darkness? I hope you are able to see in yourself that shining heart, right in the middle of all that you do and all that you are, and that you can let it override your darkness.