Most people don’t walk around thinking “I’m not worthy”…the beliefs about worthiness are often sub-conscious and show up in other ways. Those sub-conscious beliefs drive some behaviors that are really unworthiness in disguise. Below is a list of some (not all) of the common masks that a lack of self worth may show up as in your life. If you find yourself relating to these, remember that there are no judgments here – only the intention of bringing awareness, love and compassion to the wounded parts of yourself so they can be healed.
Procrastination is when you delay completing what moves you toward your desires. Procrastination may be a response to avoid the anxiety about completing the task. The anxiety may a symptom of not feeling as though you’re good enough to complete the task successfully. Ask yourself if you have underlying feelings of fear or doubt that you’re not good enough around completing them. This one tends to be from an unconscious place because you may not think you feel a lack of worth, but ask yourself what’s really stalling you. Your ego can come up with many excuses so you have to look beyond these excuses. Visualize all the goodness that comes from completing the task, remember that you are already worthy, and use those feelings as fuel to take action. You must maintain the faith in your worthiness, regardless of how others judge you. Don’t let the judgments of others deter your faith in yourself and your goals. If you easily give up on a goal that you’re truly passionate about, that’s a good indicator that you don’t have a strong sense of worth or belief in yourself to accomplish it.
This may show up as having too much on your plate. If you tend to always have to be doing something, your sense of worth may be tied up in your achievements and performance. Don’t mistake this for being proactive at achieving your goals. The difference is enjoying what you’re doing, versus having to do it to prove your worth, or your sense of self is based on your achievements. Make a list of what you enjoy and ensure you fit those things in your life. You may have to look at what you can let go of in order to fit them in. When you come from a place of deserving to enjoy your life, rather than having to prove your worth through what you’re doing or achieving, your energy shifts from fear to love and makes space for joy.
Feeling that everything has to be perfect can be an outer need based on an inner belief that being perfect is a means to proving your worth. It tends to be a way of hiding your belief that you aren’t good enough. If you can be viewed as perfect, then you must be good enough, right? The ego will always find ways to point out where you’re lacking so your feelings of being perfect will be brief and rare. The illusion of perfectionism requires a lot of energy to keep running.
You may find yourself experiencing negative self talk and criticizing others as a projection of your need to be perfect. Perfectionism is a social conditioning that we are inundated with daily. Most likely you see it in the media and in advertising, telling you that you have to live up to a certain model to be “perfect”. This can create immense stress and conflict in your life because you spend so much energy trying to control everything around you. In truth, you can only control how you choose to respond to those things outside of you. Realizing you’re already worthy and trusting that all is in divine, right order and timing are keys to dropping this mask.
The 2004 World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Alcohol estimates that 76.3 million people worldwide have diagnosable alcohol abuse disorder. The American Heart Association estimates 45.9 million Americans smoke cigarettes (according to the National Center for Health Statistics 2008 study). The US Department of Health and Human Services estimated 20.1 million Americans aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to the 2008 survey interview. The National Council on Sexual Addiction Compulsivity estimated that 6%-8% of Americans are sex addicts, which is 18 million – 24 million people.
If you feel that something is missing or lacking, your ego will probably look for things outside of yourself to fill that hole. Addiction is a compulsion to have something in order to feel more complete, but ultimately causes you pain.
The “fix” to filling what you perceive to be missing can take on many forms including alcohol, drugs, sex, food, getting attention, overworking, and anything else that you form a habit around that moves you out of standing in your power. It can be anything that you feel you must have, in order to cope with life. If you have an addiction, it can also affect the people around you, creating pain not only for you, but for others too.
To heal addiction, you need to become aware of your addiction (if you don’t already know). Then make the choice that you want to heal it for yourself and seek help. This can be a delicate process, requiring lots of love and healing, but it can be done (I know because I did it, and so can you if you choose to). You’re worth it and you are already whole and complete! Sometimes letting go of addiction requires you to move out of the environment or circumstances that trigger the behavior. This means that change is required. Change your pattern of behavior. Without change, things stay the same. If things currently aren’t working the way they are, then you have to shift out of your current state of consciousness to create change (or else stay stuck where you’re at). When I quit smoking, I stopped hanging out with my group of smokers that I socialized with. Sure, it was hard, and they didn’t understand, but if I would have continued putting myself in the environment that triggered my smoking, I wouldn’t have quit (I know, because I’d tried it dozens of times before). I started going to the gym instead, so not only did I end an unhealthy habit, I began a healthy one.
Co-Dependency & People Pleasing
Co-dependency includes the need to be needed (reflecting that worth is gained by the level of need others have of you). Your self worth is derived from you constantly trying to care for, rescue and fix others because of your desire to feel needed. If you are co-dependent, you tend to sacrifice caring for yourself in order to take care of or “fix” others (including other people’s problems). Your desire to help becomes a need. You may need to be “needed”. You become wrapped up and stuck in other’s people’s stuff (and you can become angry because all of your time is spent on others and you don’t care for yourself). If you are interested in learning more about this subject, an excellent book to read is Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.
Worrying about what people think of you is a form of not feeling good enough. You may be like a chameleon, trying to be everything to everyone (even doing things you don’t want to). This may also include withholding your feelings because you fear hurting another’s feelings. When you remember you’re already good enough, you lose the attachment to needing other people to approve of you, and you express yourself authentically.
If you’re experiencing co-dependency, you may feel as though you’ve lost your self identity. Many of my clients (and even myself) who’ve experienced co-dependency didn’t know what they liked or wanted, because they defined who they were and what they did based on their relationships with others. When those relationships changed, many of them felt lost because they had defined who they were through others. You are not your titles, roles, jobs or relationships. You are wonderful and amazing, and you deserve to be, and do, what brings you joy (and to be respected by others for honoring yourself). No matter what you’ve done, or experienced in the past, it’s only the “story”, it’s not you. Your worth is unconditional, regardless of what you do…because your worth is not based on what you do!
Victim tendencies include needing people to feel sorry for you as a means of getting attention. This is a reflection of unworthiness, believing your worth is obtained by the amount of attention (mistaken for love and acceptance) that you receive. Being a victim can also be used as an excuse to why you aren’t good enough. For example, I have a client who is often criticized by others for his personality and actions. His response to these criticizers is that he is a victim of ADHD so he can’t help that he’s “not good enough”. The truth is, those criticizers are just projecting their own fear of their unworthiness on to him.
You are not a victim of your circumstances, but you can choose to believe that you are. Think about what you believe you’re a victim to, and give that experience a new meaning. For example, if you were abused, your original meaning of that experience may be that you’re not good enough or it was somehow your fault. A new meaning could be viewing this experience as someone else taking their pain out on you, and you are not responsible for other people’s choices. Take your power back by having compassion for their pain, and replace the previous meaning you assigned it with the strength and courage you cultivated by overcoming the pain you experienced as a result of their actions. Re-assigning meaning to painful experiences can be very healing.
This shows up as a need to be better than everyone else. If you’re superior to everyone else, that surely means you’re good enough, right? No, it’s actually an indicator that you’re proving your worth by making others bad or less than you, or as a means to “puff yourself up”. If you have to prove your worth, you are running a belief that you’re not good enough. People who connect with their true, unconditional worth find joy in sharing joy with others too. Worthy, fulfilled people don’t set out to make other people feel bad or inferior. If you’re experiencing the energy of “being better than”, practice treating yourself and others as you want to be treated (with compassion, love and acceptance). We’re all good enough.
Self Denial/Low Self Esteem
Self denial can take on several forms including eating disorders and self mutilation (intentionally wounding the body). It is the outward projection of the inner pain that can be caused by the belief of not being good enough. Low self esteem (not feeling good about yourself or believing you aren’t worthy of receiving or achieving) is another common effect that a lack of worth causes. If you experience these conditions, you may feel very disconnected with life, sometimes to the point of feeling numb. Reconnecting with God and is the most powerful way of healing the pain that causes this suffering.
Note – if you, or someone you know, is experiencing suicidal feelings or thoughts, please seek immediate help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800) 273-TALK.
Not Open to Receiving
Do you find it easy to give, but resist receiving? You may be holding beliefs of unworthiness. Receiving does not always mean getting material gifts. Receiving means allowing others to share, whether it’s their compliments, love, compassion, or physical gifts. It also means nurturing yourself, accepting God’s gifts and allowing yourself to experience joy. Think of the joy you experience when you give to others. When you deny receiving, you block others from giving, and deny them their experience of joy.
If you reject nurturing yourself, and are always giving but not receiving, you will eventually run out of energy to give. You may become angry at those you give to because you feel they’re taking too much from you (projecting your belief of not being deserving onto them). The extent to which you allow yourself to receive, is the extent to which you can give without becoming unbalanced in energy. Unbalanced or depleted energy can result in physical, mental and emotional stress or breakdown (dis-ease).
Being Critical of Others
Do you find yourself criticizing others, especially those closest to you or that you love most (nit-picking, telling them what they did/didn’t do, having a condescending tone)? This may be how you’re projecting your unconscious unworthiness feelings onto others. I know that when I am being critical of my daughter, it’s an indicator for me to check in with myself and ask where I might be carrying unworthiness issues. Having that awareness reminds me to shift out of the illusion and back into my truth of knowing I’m already good enough. Then I apologize to her for projecting my stuff onto her, and I thank her for being part of my awareness.
Can you relate to any of these masks?
I share more about these masks and how to live beyond them in my best-selling book, Divine Worth.