The most common core belief that people hold is that we are unworthy. most of these stories of unworthiness are not our fault. They may have been inherited or learned. 

A little girl was told by a nurse in hospital at a young age, that she wasn’t good enough and didn’t deserve love.

Not in so many words, but through her actions – by criticising her, telling her off, telling her she should know better than the younger ones (she was 6) and telling her to shut up and go to sleep.

The 6 year old was in Hospital in the 70’s when parents had to leave you there, in a strange place, with strangers, when you may never have slept anywhere, but at home with your parents.

This led her to feel unsafe, disconnected and lonely. She missed a month of School and fell behind with her learning, she had ADHD, which wasn’t known about at that time and was easily distracted.

The same girl went to secondary school a teacher made her stand up in class and spell a word, she spelt it wrong and so the teacher said she was ‘thick’ and the class laughed at her. She didn’t feel it was worth trying at school as she was told the best results she would get would not class as a ‘pass’ in her exams and the career she mentioned to the career office when leaving school was frowned upon as she wouldn’t get the grades.

The Unworthy Adult

The girl grew up into a woman, knowing that she was unworthy of praise, of success, of love. This woman is me.

She was always afraid of people seeing her fail. So she held back, careful not to do anything where she might fail.

She put off taking on tough tasks, and formed a long habit of procrastination.

This came to rule her life, affecting health habits, financial habits and romantic relationships. She went from one ‘destructive relationship’ to another, never feeling worthy of love.

Diabetes-1 Understanding Feelings of Unworthiness

We live our lives in pain, and often times, we try numbing that pain with over eating, alcohol, shopping, sex, etc.

The root causes of feelings of Unworthiness

Feelings of unworthiness can come from negative experiences from childhood such as verbal, physical, or emotional abuse from parents or neglect. It can also come from experiences later in life such as bullying from peers, rejection, traumatic events, and more.

Unworthiness often comes from a deep sense of shame. Shame is typically felt as “I am something wrong.” Not “I did something wrong,” but “I am something wrong.” Being “something wrong” is hard to fix.

This deep feeling of shame can stem from something as simple as spilling a glass of milk as a child and being yelled at.

Feeling unworthy is the internalization of thoughts such as: 
– “I am bad.” 
– “I am not enough.”
– “I don’t deserve to be happy.”  

These thoughts are about us, our core beings, and something that we really believe to be true.

Feeling unworthy is NOT the same as guilt. Thoughts of guilt include: 
– “I did something bad.” 
– “My actions were not in line with who I want to be.” 
– “I need to apologize to someone because I may have hurt them.”

These thoughts are about our mistakes, our past actions. It does not necessarily mean that we think we are bad or unworthy – we simply feel guilt because we think we made a mistake. 

When our thoughts of guilt go from “I made a mistake” to “I am the mistake” that is when we start to have feelings of unworthiness. Feeling guilty is normal if you’ve made a mistake, but feeling unworthy is not.

How to overcome feelings of unworthiness

Here’s the thing…
You are worthy………….Just because.

However, you can’t fight your way out of feeling unworthy, instead accept it and explore it with kindness and love.

Acknowledge your feelings

Feelings of unworthiness can manifest in a few different ways. Some of us will feel so ashamed that we will try and bury it deep inside of ourselves and never talk about it. Even though we try to hide it, it will still affect our daily lives. These buried feelings of unworthiness will prevent us from having the confidence to go after what we want, and pursue the relationships that we desire.

Write down moments in the past that cause you to feel unworthy

Feelings of unworthiness come from your past. Childhood neglect, bullying from peers, rejection from a loved one – all of these are potential causes of persistent unworthiness. Whatever causes you to feel the most shame, write them down in your journal so you can identify the root cause. If writing them down will cause you too much pain, consider speaking to a therapist to help you work through these painful memories.

Find productive ways to work through these painful memories

It is important to identify painful memories that are causing you to feel unworthy – and then work through them in a productive way by reframing these painful memories. You can reframe them by giving yourself a bit more compassion. Perhaps you made a mistake that you are still ruminating over? You have to realize that you were younger and did not have all the information and life lessons that you do now. Were you recently laid off from a job? Reframe it as a challenge to overcome – know that this has nothing to do with your self-worth and more to do with external factors. If the memories cause you distress and you are suffering from PTSD, we highly encourage you to speak with a therapist to work through these traumas.

Show empathy and compassion for yourself

When you find yourself spiraling in a swirl of negative thoughts, try and take a deep breath. Show empathy and compassion for yourself by speaking kindly to yourself and saying encouraging words. Think about and write down your strengths and the kind things you have done for others. Try and forgive yourself if you feel that you made a mistake. Remember that you are human and that we all have room to grow.

Speak to someone you trust about your feelings

When we are silent and secretive about our feelings of unworthiness, they tend to fester and worsen over time. Do not let this happen. Take the time to stop and share what you are feeling with someone you trust – whether it be a trusted friend, counsellor, or therapist. Actually talking about your shame and feelings of unworthiness is one of the most powerful ways to overcome it. 


Pay attention to how the story of unworthiness comes and goes. Sometimes it’s here, and sometimes it’s not. It’s not always a permanent part of your personality. 

As we get to know these feelings, and know when they’re present, we can be aware of when we might be vulnerable to believing the story underneath them.

When we’re willing to actually look at our stories of unworthiness with attention, this is a form of love. By just saying to yourself, I’m willing to look into this.