We are all a collective being of our experiences, thoughts and beliefs and many of these are aimed at our own self-value and self-worth. How we feel about ourselves within can determine our outside experiences, actions and interactions with those around us. In other words, if you experience low self-worth and don’t put a high value on your role in the world then this can have a detrimental effect on your relationships and even your mental well-being and happiness.
It’s easy to develop negative feelings about yourself; in fact, you are more likely to develop the same level of self-worth as one of your parents or a mixture of the two. From an early age, you can start to determine your place in the world by evaluating your connections with the people around you and this can develop into negative connections if you are around dominating, critical or judgemental people.
Without even realising it, you can carry this low-self worth into adulthood and apply it to the relationships you create. If this sounds familiar to you then you’re not alone. I’m one of those people too – someone who has struggled with low-self worth that has sabotaged both relationships with others, but most importantly with myself.
How lack of self-love truly affected me
I’ve always been a more naturally introverted person and quite shy at times as well as highly sensitive. That meant every time a mean comment was thrown at me (which always happened to everyone at some stage during school) it stuck in my mind like superglue. Instead of having the inner strength and self-love to shrug it off and refuse to believe it, I added it to my bank of inner criticism and took it as truth.
I didn’t ever feel like I had someone to tell me this isn’t true – that the negative thoughts and actions of others can’t damage me unless I let them. I wasn’t aware that I had the power to ignore or understand the true meanings behind personal attacks, in my mind, it was my fault because I must be a less worthy person.
This transcended into my relationships with others. I would never stand my ground but instead run around after people to gain their recognition or acceptance. This, in turn, meant I was easily used and I stayed in relationships that made me unhappy, that were unfulfilling and didn’t allow me the space to grow. I would often stay with someone through fear that I wouldn’t ever find someone else or be worthy of a better relationship.
The constant need for love
Lack of self-love and feeling like I didn’t matter meant I would seek love externally. Relationships defined me. If I was striving to make the other person happy then that was the basis of my own happiness. If they were in a bad mood, it was my fault – self-blame was evident in all areas of my life. I needed to be accepted wherever I went and if I wasn’t then there was something wrong with me. I always had to please others and put their happiness above my own because in my mind, that was a reflection of me.
The problem with this is that it eats away at you; it’s exhausting. I didn’t have the ability or even the want to set myself life goals and I didn’t celebrate any achievements because I didn’t let myself congratulate myself – it was extremely alien to me.
Understanding that happiness comes from within and starts with self-love
There came a point in my life where I found myself alone, broke, jobless and depressed. They say you need to experience the very bottom before you can rise to the top, well this was the experience for me. It was after a breakdown that I finally had enough. I couldn’t live my life this way – I can’t live my life to please others.
It was this realisation that started my journey to self-love and happiness. I finally realised that only I can be responsible for how I feel, for my reactions to situations and other people. My inner-world is a direct reflection of my outer-world: my low self-worth and lack of respect for myself was showing in my life situation and my relationships.
Changing the way you think about yourself after a lifetime is not an easy process but with support, encouragement and determination both from external sources and myself I came to realise that I am loveable and what other people think about me is just their own issues they are struggling with. This was probably the first hugely important realisation for me – people aren’t superior, they are not living their life perfectly, they make mistakes and they have issues just like me. I shouldn’t compare myself to people who aren’t perfect themselves – no one is.
Whether you’re a happy or unhappy person is determinate on whether you love yourself and know you matter in this world or not. Discovering that inner happiness will simply change the way you see things for what they really are and placing yourself as important in everything you do.
The road to self-love is always a continuous journey and for me, it has now improved my life in so many ways. Finally, my outer world is reflecting my inner world in a much more positive and happy way.