Here are the facts, if you don’t get feeling valueless under control and learn how to value yourself, you will fail. Feeling valueless will continue to affect you into the future, as it has in the past. Negatively impacting your personal life, your business, and your career. So it’s really important you get it fixed. Valuing yourself improves every area of your life and the results you get in powerful ways.
Why Not Valuing Herself Set Rachel Up To Fail In Business: Case Study
Rachel had always wanted to run her own business. She had a natural flair for business and helping others succeed. But when opportunities arose to go into business for herself in partnership with people she knew, each time a pattern of failure had emerged. When it came to working through differences of opinion around the direction the business needed to go in order to continue to grow, Rachel repeatedly felt blocked and overridden by her business partner, and couldn’t stand her ground. She froze when it came to negotiating and working through differences of opinion. Instead she eventually just walked away from both business opportunities, feeling angry, resentful and taken advantage of.
Having spent most of her life shaping herself according to other people’s wants and needs, any situation that required negotiation and conflict resolution skills triggered stress and anxiety. After her second business partnership failed, a friend suggested Rachel do a mindfulness program to help her deal better with stress and conflict, and get some new self insights. But attempting mindfulness exercises increased her feelings of anger with herself and brought up feelings of low self worth and failure, triggering implicit memories from her childhood.
People try and work on themselves having to struggle with patterns of behaviour that sit in their implicit memory system. Memories of threat, stored implicitly, often come up first. Implicit memories operate outside of conscious awareness and drive subconscious beliefs and repetitive, default behaviours. Operating outside of conscious awareness, these memories cannot be visualized or reflected upon.
Rachel realised she needed a one-on-one relationship to talk about the issues directly affecting her. When we looked at what was triggering her, it turned out Rachel was still reacting to childhood experiences of being controlled and put down. Something she hadn’t been aware of. Now in her early 40s, Rachel still felt valueless and insubstantial inside. Feelings that stemmed from her childhood.
Common Reasons For Not Valuing Yourself
Early adversity in your home life growing up has huge impacts on your sense of value as a person, and your self esteem. Common examples of early adversity include:
- Parental depression, anxiety or substance abuse.
- Physical or emotional abuse or trauma.
- Prolonged feelings of not being understood.
- Repetitive devaluing experiences such as ridiculing, bullying, shaming or stonewalling.
Rachel had grown up in a family that was judgmental and critical. Her siblings would make fun of her and exclude her because she thought differently to them. Her parents were strict and controlling and openly favoured the youngest child, who could do whatever they liked. Rachel felt alone and alienated in her family growing up. As if she didn’t have a right to just be herself. She had always felt that her family just didn’t get her. This shaped how she viewed other people and her expectations around how they would treat her.
Feeling Valueless Influences How Other People Treat You
Not being listened to, validated or taken seriously growing up leads to subconscious expectations that you’ll encounter the same experiences in the outside world. Particularly when you’ve been repeatedly criticized, bullied or ignored for disagreeing with or questioning your family’s view on things. You end up defaulting to flight or freeze and sometimes fight responses that are security and safety based. This becomes your inner blueprint for how you do relationships and react to conflict.
Not expecting to be listened to and valued plays out in a variety of ways. When you don’t value yourself you can sit in meetings with managers and peers and put forward an idea that is dismissed or ignored. People just talk over you. Minutes later, someone else who’s confident and values themselves says the exact same thing, but in a different way, and everyone thinks it’s a great idea and takes it on board. This was happening to Rachel in her business partnerships, mirroring exactly what had happened to her growing up.
Rachel also found that over time her partner, who she had thought was different to her family, started talking to her in the same dismissive way as her family whenever he got annoyed with her. Each time this happened, all of her feelings of vulnerability and low self worth bubbled up to the surface, which then made things even worse.
3 Ways To Stop Feeling Valueless And Thrive
1. Work With Someone Who Can Help You Become More Self Aware
You can’t change what you don’t even know is there. To change deeply ingrained negative beliefs about yourself you first need to become more self-aware around why you feel valueless. The most powerful and effective way to do this is to find some who’s qualified to help you remember, think, and talk about your life in safety. Powerful constructive conversations with a therapist or coach creates new neural pathways in your brain and brings about the self-understanding required to be able to reflect, rather than react. You’re then able to identify what’s triggering you and why.
Reflection is a conscious process. It’s not something that we do automatically.
2. Commit To Valuing Yourself
When you’ve identified and understood the negative beliefs and scripts that have been making you feel valueless, you’re able to change the way you think about yourself. You’re in a position to commit to the process of valuing yourself. When you love and respect yourself, people pick up on this and treat you the same way. You’re able to express what you really feel and think, regardless of whether someone agrees with you or not.
3. Learn How To Set Boundaries
Personal boundary setting is an excellent way to value and take care of yourself. Boundaries give you effective strategies to handle people and situations where you’re feeling invaded, manipulated, or overwhelmed. Boundaries: When to Say Yes How To Say No To Take Control Of Your Life by Cloud and Townsend is one of the best reads on this.
Valuing yourself is essential to success in your personal life and career. It’s about releasing the negative and critical views about yourself that you’ve absorbed from other people growing up that don’t even belong to you. But just doing positive affirmations or CBT alone won’t shift low self value if your subconscious beliefs and behaviours aren’t first identified and understood. Seeking out positive, transformative relationships and experiences and then backing yourself is the key to no longer feeling valueless.
Our self feeling in this world depends entirely on what we back ourselves to be and do. William James
All names and identifying features in this article have been changed for privacy purposes.
© Copyright Janelle Legge | 2016
Are you basing your self worth on whether someone likes you? If you are, this can become a slippery slope to low self confidence and low self esteem. Not knowing how to develop self confidence leads to inconsistent behaviours, sending out mixed messages to others and not being clear on what exactly it is that you want. Because all your energy and focus is on other people. So you’re never really sure about what you really want and need in order to feel happy, successful and fulfilled. It’s a painful and uncertain way to be in the world and negatively impacts all areas of your life – your personal life, your relationships and your career.
Knowing How To Develop Self Confidence Is A Game Changer
Learning how to develop self confidence when it’s not your strong point, is a total game changer in your relationships and life. Particularly if you’re someone who is highly sensitive to whether someone else likes you or not. Being overly sensitive to other people liking you often stems from not getting enough positive, valuing experiences growing up. Regular day to day experiences of positive validation, encouragement and recognition for just who you are, regardless of what you do or achieve, are the building blocks to healthy self confidence and esteem. It’s not getting enough of these positive validating experiences growing up that can lead to feeling insubstantial as a person. When you don’t feel solid and secure in your own right, it’s hard to fully immerse yourself in the present, because a part of you almost feels like you don’t really exist in the minds of other people. You don’t have a sense of your own agency. You don’t fully believe that what you do has a positive meaningful impact in the world. You’re almost apologising for your very existence by being constantly tuned in to everyone else’s needs and feelings except your own. Because growing up you worked out that that’s what got you love, approval and validation. But it’s based on a false sense of self.
Having a high sensitivity to what other people feel or think about you also comes from being around critical, judgmental or self-absorbed people growing up. When you’re younger you don’t have the capacity or life experience to understand where adults are coming from when they’re negative, critical or emotionally unavailable. Kids tend to take on the burden of this, interpreting it as having done something wrong, or not being good enough or worthy enough to be loved unconditionally. They don’t feel they have a right to be who they naturally are.
This is not about blaming parents or people from your past.
It’s about becoming more self-aware. Learning how to rebuild your confidence and self-worth.
When Perfectionism And People Pleasing Compensate For Low Self-Confidence: Case Study
Bianca (*not her real name) had just turned 30 and was constantly getting into a confused muddle when it came to dating. She would date someone for a few months and then get frustrated when the guy she was dating wasn’t responding at the pace and speed that she wanted. Being able to just stay in the present was almost impossible for her. There was constant anxiety around needing to know whether the guy she was dating really liked her. The more she liked a guy, the more she had a deep seated fear and belief that the relationship wouldn’t last. That he would lose interest in her and look for someone else. Someone who was sexier, more attractive, more desirable, [more …]. The negative comparison list went on and on in her head and eventually became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Guys eventually tired of Bianca’s mixed messages and vibes. One minute she appeared confident and together, only to then slip back into negative and self-defeating patterns and beliefs that sabotaged the relationship. Bianca just couldn’t relax and wait and see how things developed.
Rejection by guys would then send Bianca into a total tailspin. Her worst fears had yet again become realized. Her self esteem would plummet and it would take her months to regain her confidence and start to feel good about herself. Technically gifted in her chosen field of work, Bianca had wanted to progress to a team leader role to broaden her skills and career options. But the feedback she’d received was that the company wasn’t prepared to put her into the leadership talent pool until she sorted out the issues in her personal life which were impacting her performance and potentially derailing her career. Bianca’s manager knew she had the potential to achieve a lot more, so encouraged Bianca to sort out her personal life so that she could progress in her career.
When we looked at what was behind Bianca’s anxiety around dating and how she approached most of her life, it was around perfectionism and constantly needing approval from others. Never feeling good enough or worthy enough in her own right as a child, Bianca had become the ‘good girl’ at home and at school. Both parents were struggling with issues in their relationship whilst Bianca was growing up and were often preoccupied. So Bianca discovered that focusing on everyone else’s needs, being perfect and always doing well at school is what got her the positive attention she craved. It made her feel liked. But these feelings never lasted and were fleeting at best because they were based on Bianca developing a false sense of self, shaped mostly around perfectionism and other people’s needs and agendas.
How To Develop Self Confidence:
Self Acceptance, Self Empathy And Self Love
At first, learning to just focus on her own wants, needs and vulnerabilities seemed like a Herculean effort to Bianca. She had spent most of her life looking outwards, not inwards. Insight-oriented psychotherapy helped Bianca understand the forces that had shaped her and why deep down she felt so anxious and insecure. It was about getting to know and fully embrace who she really was and what she wanted. Bianca hadn’t felt entitled to receive love and acceptance for just being her, outside of her academic achievements and people pleasing. She’d grown up with a faulty belief that she wasn’t worthy or good enough to have someone in her life that would love her for who she was. It was realizing that she didn’t have to keep striving to be perfect. In her dating life her perfectionism and lack of self confidence was driving guys away.
Self confidence comes from quietly knowing deep down inside that you’re good enough just as you are. It’s being confident in your abilities and okay with your vulnerabilities. Realizing that being vulnerable and not perfect is a normal part of being human. It’s also about getting enough positive real time experiences where you feel valued. Knowing that what you say and do counts. That your feelings and needs matter. It’s also about being able to give other people permission to be who they really are. Accepting that they are allowed to say “No” to you, just as you’re able to say “No” to them. And that “No” doesn’t mean that you’re defective in some way or unworthy of being loved.
Bianca had to learn how to develop self confidence by not personalising someone else’s choice and right to say “No”. Accepting that it was okay to give herself and others permission to be who they are and not try and constantly control situations and outcomes. To let things move along at a pace that felt healthy and safe for both parties, which then started to free things up. Trusting that she would be okay regardless of whether it worked out or not with the guy she was dating was a huge mindset shift.
Discovering How To Build Self Confidence Made The Guys Bianca Dated Feel More Comfortable Around Her
The guys Bianca dated stopped feeling pushed around by her emotional insecurities and constant need for certainty that things would progress to the next level after only a few dates. Bianca is now into her second year of dating the same guy. A first for her. That’s because Bianca took the time to learn more about herself and how to develop self confidence that endured. She became more self-aware around her strengths, vulnerabilities and the beliefs and behaviours that kept tripping her up and impacting her present. Bianca has developed a new level of confidence that’s far more solid and real. Her self confidence is no longer precariously based on perfectionism and a constant need to be liked.
* All identifying features have been removed from this article to protect the privacy of my client.
Janelle Legge is a Psychotherapist, Leadership, Mindfulness and Wellbeing Consultant and Coach who specialises in Relationships, Career Success, Work-Life Integration and Wellbeing. Janelle sees clients in person in Sydney and works with clients around the world via Skype. To book a skype session with Janelle click here.