Feeling of Worthlessness

Feeling of Worthlessness
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 22-03-2023

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Meaning of Worthlessness

Worthlessness can be understood as the feeling of uselessness, as the feeling that there is no purpose left for life. Individuals who feel worthless take themselves as they are of no significance to the world, their family, or their friends. They tend to lose confidence in everything and search for their worth in whatever they do. They often find themselves feeling desperate to prove their worth to the people in their lives as they think that they are not doing enough in whatever they indulge in. 

The feeling of Worthlessness, Self-Hate, and Guilt

Feelings of worthlessness may come at any point in your life, everybody feels worthless sometimes. It can be just a momentary feeling, can be for 2-3 days, or can stretch for months. It can be hard to deal with when thoughts of worthlessness persist.  It can lead to a feeling of low self-confidence, low self-esteem, and negative thoughts about oneself.

Research showed that feelings of worthlessness can have a major negative impact on mental well-being and are strongly associated with a lifetime suicide attempt in adults who registered severe depression and had endured trauma. The study found that, among the signs of depression, worthlessness had the highest correlation with a life-long suicide attempt. In this condition, people begin to lose hope for the future and find it difficult to appreciate any part of life they tried and failed to find answers to, which leads to fear that, they will continue to feel depressed forever. Although this is a miserable situation to be in, the good thing is that you can overcome it. It needs effort and dedication to resolve worthlessness but that is feasible.

Before checking ways to overcome worthlessness, one must know how worthlessness may present in different ways and how different people can feel worthless in different ways-

  • People may have negative thoughts about oneself
  • Increase in social anxiety
  • Absence of life meaning, a declining value in life
  • Having Suicidal thoughts
  • Withdraw from relationships
  • Increase in alcohol or drugs consumption
  • Facing difficulty in expressing emotions
  • You may feel like everyone is against you
  • Neglect self-care such as activities of daily living, such as showering, eating habits, and wrong sleeping pattern.

What can cause the feeling of worthlessness?

One can feel worthless due to various reasons-

  • Negative childhood experiences- childhood experiences can play a significant role in a person’s life. If there has been a sense of comparison, neglect, abuse, harassment, or a sense where the child always had to prove his worth or his ‘good self’, the child can end up feeling worthless in his later life.
  • Traumatic past events- some events where the individual might have felt ashamed or low in self-confidence, they might attribute this feeling to proving themselves, leading them to feel worthless.
  • Taking oneself as the reason behind a negative event- some people tend to take a negative event on themselves as being the reason behind that happening. Due to this reason, they may feel worthless.
  • Personality factors- some individuals have low self-confidence or an inferiority complex. These two factors a major role in a person being worthless.
  • Past mental health issues like depression- individuals having depression majorly associate themselves with feeling worthless and hopeless. They find great difficulty in finding their worth in the lives of other people and also in themselves.

Worthlessness, shame, self-hate, guilt, and Depression

Shame and worthlessness go very much together with each other. If someone had a past experience of toxic shame like people made fun of them when they did something wrong or they were made to feel low in comparison to some other person. If there was a shameful experience in a social encounter. All these shameful experiences can play an important role in making a person feel worthless about themselves. 

The feeling of being worthless can in turn result in a person hating themselves as they feel that they are of no use, they cannot associate a positive outcome of anything they do. These feelings again lead them to feel guilty as they are in a mental state where they find nothing going according to their needs.

Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by feeling worthless, hopeless, and low mood. A person in depression very majorly feels hatred toward themselves and also guilty about all the events they had been to. Therefore, all these emotions take a toll on our mental health and they should be taken care of so that it doesn’t result in major mental health issues.

What can be done to deal with the feeling of worthlessness?

Here is the list of things you can do to make it better:

Give thought to when you hit the lows:
When you find that you are not having a fantastic day, week, or month, pay attention to what’s going on in your brain. It will take time to build the ability to understand your emotions, but with practice, you should be able to realize that your loss of self-confidence is just a feeling in your mind, so you will start to do something about it. A perfect way to learn and be respectful of your emotions is through mindfulness.

Acknowledge your achievements:
Recording your everyday successes focuses the brain on how a person completes a goal, rather than being purposeless or meaningless. The brain can carry this knowledge away and start changing the useless mentality to being a deserving individual.

Maintain and improve relationships:
If there are people in your life you wish you were closer to, take charge and make this possible. Offer ideas, be in touch, and stick to the decisions you make.

Find a hobby:
It may sound simple but it works the magic and is one of the best remedies that will help you stop feeling worthless. If you find an activity that you like, you will practice it and before you know it, you are an expert at it.

Any individual can feel worthless at any point in time. Feeling worthless means feeling useless, insignificant, or of no purpose. It can be caused due to reasons related to past experiences or any mental health conditions. The feeling of worthlessness can have a very negative impact on mental health and should be taken care of. A lot of things can be done to get of out this uneasy feeling and work on oneself by understanding the emotions and then adopting activities to come out of the situation. One can also go for professional help if they find it difficult to handle independently. Help is available online as well as in-person. One needs to reach out.

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