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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

11 Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Worthless

11 Things to Remember When You’re Feeling Worthless

You’re having one of those days or weeks. Nothing seems to be working, your motivation is all gone, and you’re daydreaming about quitting. Your confidence is running empty and you’re feeling worthless.

Breathe, because we’ve all been there. Furthermore, I want to remind you that a high growth lifestyle comes with vulnerable emotions. You feeling this way does not say anything about your character or capability.

A study by Harvard Business Review surveyed CEOs at the top of their game and revealed that most have felt imposter syndrome—questioning their abilities and worth—over the last year.[1]

With that in mind, remember that you are not alone.

However, the longer you stay in a state of feeling worthless, the more clarity and momentum you start to lose. Because while feeling this way is normal, staying there becomes a choice.

In this article, you’re going to learn 11 things to remember and practical steps to help you come out the other side with more resolve and clarity, not less. Let’s dive in.

1. High Growth Equals High Vulnerability

You wouldn’t be reading this article if you weren’t someone committed to their personal and professional growth. And let’s be clear here—a high growth life requires dealing with messy emotions.

Why?

Well, for starters, you’re leaving your comfort zone. You’re working on yourself. You’re no longer a “talker” but someone who is actually doing it. It’s important to remember what you’re going through now is a natural part of growth.

2. You’re Exactly Where You Need to Be

One of the biggest misconceptions in psychology is that you should feel bad if you’re feeling bad. There couldn’t be anything further from the truth; ”negative” emotions are as healthy as positive ones. It is our reaction to negative emotions that can cause harm. But the emotion alone is a healthy and normal part of life.

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Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University who wrote the book The Upside Of Your Dark Side expands:

“There is a not so hidden prejudice against negative states, and the consequence of avoiding these states is that you inadvertently stunt your growth, maturity, adventure, and meaning and purpose in life.”

This means that feeling worthless can be a catalyst to growth, not a roadblock.

3. Zoom Out to Step Away From the Trenches

Often, we can be in a momentary valley—the place where we feel worthless and wonder what it’s all for. In this place, we can’t see clearly and quitting seems like a great idea.

Bestselling author and marketing guru Seth Godin calls this the “dip,” and Scott Belsky of Adobe calls this the messy middle. However we choose to name it, I want you to remember that growth is never linear.

A breakthrough leads to a plateau, leading to a breakdown and vice versa. There are ups and downs and last-second challenges we never expected.

This is when you must zoom out of your current valley. Expand your time horizons, and recognize how far you’ve come during the last six months or three years. This reminds you that you have grown, and it provides some much-needed perspective.

4. This Feeling Is Temporary

Feeling worthless usually comes with an emotional storm that can leave us disoriented, lacking confidence, and not wanting to do much of anything. But remember: emotions are like the weather: scattered, random, unpredictable.

Sure, the weather can be intense—a random thunderstorm with howling winds, but the next day, the sun comes back out and everything is peaceful and normal again.

Your emotions work this way, too. Remember that your current state is temporary. In fact, brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor argues that any emotion lasts much shorter than we believe. According to Taylor, the chemical process of emotion only lasts 90 seconds.[2]

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What does this mean to you?

You will feel better. You will feel worthy, motivated, and excited about life again. The acceptance of this state, instead of resistance, leads to a sense of peace.

5. The World’s Most Successful Feel This Way Too

The role models, mentors, and people you look up to have felt exactly what you’re feeling right now. It can be easy to put others on pedestals due to their accomplishments. Surely, they never feel worthless, right?

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone in this world—especially those who are growing—feels this way. Regardless of their social media highlight reels and online personas, they struggle like you do.

Some of the most successful people on the planet feel worthless at times. A recent documentary, The Weight Of Gold, featured stories of Olympic athletes such as Michael Phelps, Bode Miller, and others who felt depressed for months after the Olympics.[3]

Think about that—these are the highest achievers on the world stage who have hundreds of millions of eyes of admiration and respect on them. And they, too, struggle with feeling worthless.

6. There’s So Much That Is Working

Being in a vulnerable state can shift our awareness to stack all the ways life isn’t working for us. We think of the people who betrayed our trust. We think back to being fired after giving time and energy to an organization. We overanalyze a comment on social media and obsess over how our goals aren’t happening fast enough.

Remember, you woke up today—50,000 people didn’t. Your heart’s still beating to the tune of 2,000 gallons per day. You likely have access to shelter and clean water. This is a simple perspective shift that allows us to lower the bar on gratitude and remember what is working.

7. Contrast Creates Perspective

We live in a culture that emphasizes 24/7 positivity. We must present our best selves—we must find the ‘silver lining’ in every circumstance. And while these are great aspirations, they’re not real life.

Enter contrast in life—the experience of something different. Hard moments, unsettling emotions, and experiencing conflict in our lives all lead to a newfound perspective we wouldn’t have otherwise had access to.

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With “contrast,” we ask better questions. We seek better answers. We ask for help, creating a deeper connection. We become empathetic to others’ struggles. We may even get an idea for a change in our lives that could only be accessed in the contrast.

With that said, stay curious. When we are curious about our emotions and what we’re going through, we are compassionate instead of judgmental. We stay open to new insights instead of labeling ourselves. All of these lead to healing.

8. Dig Into the Truth About You

Years ago, I started keeping a digital file that someone advised me to call “the truth about you.” It is a simple document where I keep screenshots, emails, comments on compliments, and reminders from those I respect.

We all have a folder in our minds where we can remember the truth about ourselves—the places we showed up and followed through. The accomplishment someone else is amazed by. The consistency we showed when it was easier to quit. You may not have this folder available, however, I highly recommend you start building it.

But even without it, remind yourself of the truth. To do so, you’ll have to transcend your current circumstances and emotional state and dig deeper.

9. This Is Why You Do the Work

If you’re reading this article, you’re interested in maximizing your potential and living a productive, fulfilling life. This means you have a toolkit at your disposal—practices, routines, and actions that are designed exactly for what you’re going through right now.

Remember that the tough times are the best times to use these tools, whether meditation, time in nature, doing some journaling, or going for a long walk—don’t forget the power of these tools.

Recognize that most people don’t do this work. They’d rather give their time, energy, and attention to distraction or entertainment. But you’re here, and this is when the “work” really pays off.

10. Emotional Agility Is a Superpower

Because negative emotions don’t feel good—like feeling worthless and lost—it’s easy to distract and avoid them. It’s easy to binge-watch Netflix, spend hours on social media, or even drink and eat our way out of the issue.

Harvard psychologist Susan David talks about the need for emotional agility, which is a skill that can be trained, defined as:

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“An individual’s ability to experience their thoughts and emotions and events in a way that doesn’t drive them in negative ways, but instead encourages them to reveal the best of themselves.”[4]

Consider what you’re feeling now as an opportunity to practice this skill.

11. Breathe, Play, Lighten Up, Help Others

When you’re emotionally contracted, you also tend to be physically tense. Body language tends to be less open, shoulder slump forward. It’s easy to tighten up and even enter fight or flight.

We often forget we possess the number one tool to release overwhelm and get back to the center—our breath. By engaging in a breathing practice—taking some much-needed deep inhales or box breathing—you can manufacture a state of clarity and peace.

Another tool when you’re feeling worthless is to help someone else. It sounds crazy, right? We must focus on ourselves. We must fix the issue and do so now.

Oddly enough, by taking the focus off ourselves, we find healing. It doesn’t have to be anything grand—but encouraging an old friend, a random act of kindness, or dropping off snacks for a person on the street pays dividends.

All of these can create what psychologists call the “giver’s high,” and shift your perspective.[5]

What if Feeling Worthless Led to Your Next Growth Cycle?

There is nothing wrong with the way you feel. Judging our emotions is like running into the rainstorm with anger and demanding the sun come out—in other words, a total waste of energy.

Instead, use this time wisely. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it seems far away. Often, it is much closer than you think. Use these reminders and practical ways to shift perspective to create some much-needed breathing room.

Be kind to yourself. Minimize the chatter of the inner critic. Unplug from the negativity and chaos of the world and make small steps in the right direction. As you do, celebrate tiny progress along the way while remembering you are worthy and you have plenty of proof to show yourself that.

As time passes, you’ll wake up and back in a thriving state. You’ll wonder what took you so long to get over this feeling and be equipped with a new perspective and empathy.

More to Remind You About Your Self Worth

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rawson-Harris via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: Everyone Suffers from Impostor Syndrome
[2] Psychology Today: The 90 Second Rule
[3] Washington Post: In Michael Phelps documentary, Olympians share how system pushed them into mental health issues
[4] Harvard Business Review: Emotional Agility
[5] Scientific American: How to be Happy by Giving to Others

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Tommy Baker

Expert on human potential and reverse engineering success.

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of motivation that lists five categories of human needs that dictate individual behavior. These five categories refer to physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.[1]

Motivation plays a big part in athletic coaching. I spent 44 years coaching basketball and each day at practice, I was trying to motivate our athletes to give their best effort. In this article, I will examine Maslow’s hierarchy and five areas of needs from an athletic perspective.

1. Physiological Needs

These needs represent the most basic human survival needs. They include food, water, rest, and breathing, and all four have importance in athletics.

Food has had an evolution in the world of athletics. I cannot recall my coaches in the 1950s and ‘60s mentioning anything about food. As time went on, the pre-game meal became important. Steak seemed to be the meal of choice early in the evolution. Research then indicated pasta would be the better choice.[2]

Today, I think most coaches prefer pasta. However, if the players are ordering from menus, some coaches believe the players should stick with their regular diets and order accordingly.

The next step in this evolution was that the pre-game meal, although important, is not nearly as critical as the athletes’ overall nutrition. At our University of St. Francis athletic seminars, we invited nutritionists to speak and to educate our players on their nutritional habits.

The ultimate change in food intake may be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Tom Brady. He adheres to a specific, disciplined diet that has allowed him to play superb football at age 43.

Water also has had an evolution in sports. It went from not being allowed in practices to coaches scheduling water breaks during the practices.

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Rest is extremely important in all sports, and statistics validate its importance. NBA research found that during the course of the season teams win 6 of 10 games at home but only 4 of 10 on the road. In the NBA playoffs, the statistics change to 6.5 at home and 3.5 on the road. Many coaches believe rest is the key factor to these statistics because the players are sleeping in their own beds for home games.[3]

Our St. Francis basketball team found the importance of breathing on a trip to play in a tournament in Colorado. In our first game, we were playing great and winning by 12 points early in the game. Then the altitude kicked in, adversely affected our breathing, and we lost the lead and eventually the game.

In our second game, having learned our lesson, we substituted more frequently! Maslow’s idea of physiological needs plays a major part in the athletic arena.

2. Safety Needs

Safety needs include protection from violence, emotional stability and well-being, health security, and financial security.

If a fight breaks out during a basketball game, there can be serious injuries. This is the reason a coach steps in immediately when there is any violence or dirty play in practice. The coach must protect the players. You drill your teams to play hard—never dirty.

The importance of emotional stability has gained more credence in sports in recent years. Many teams hire psychologists to help work with their players. There is a great deal of player failure in sports and it is critical for the players to stay emotionally stable.

Health security is much more prevalent in sports today than in my playing days. I once got a concussion during a basketball game. We had no trainers. The coach handled it by telling me after the game, “Sullivan, you play better when you don’t know where the hell you are!” He was right, and my medical treatment ended there! Games today have trainers available to protect the health of the athletes.

Financial security is predominant in professional sports. Most players today use free agency to go where the money is because they consider sport not to be a sport at all. They believe it is a short-term business at their level. I personally appreciate the athletes who have taken less money so the team can retain teammates or use the dollars to bring in new players.

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3. Love and Belonging Needs

These needs can be summed up with two words: love and relationships.

After teams win championships, you will often hear coaches say, “I love these guys” or “I loved coaching this team.” You can tell by their body language and the tone of their voice that they really mean it.

I think coaches say this because the season can be a tough grind. Practices, scouting, film work, travel, and problems that arise take a toll on coaches. However, when you have teams that give all they have every night in practice, you do come to love them.

ESPN did a 30-30 segment on the North Carolina State national championship team coached by Jim Valvano. I was especially interested in watching it because I knew a player on the team who used to come to our camps. Terry Gannon played a major role in their championship.

The program was a reunion of their players. This was 20 plus years from their title, and if you were to take one thing away from the show, it would be how much the players loved each other.

In the last analysis, sport is all about relationships. You can meet former teammates with whom you played 40 to 50 years earlier and that athletic bond is as strong as it ever was. Although you may have not seen each other in years, your friendship is so cemented it’s like you have been seeing each other weekly.

David Halberstam’s book, The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship, validates the relationship between athletics forges. Ted Williams is dying and three of his former Boston Red Sox teammates—Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio—make the trip to Florida to see him. Even though 50 years had passed since they played together, the bond among them never waned.

Love and belonging epitomize the essence of sports.

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4. Esteem Needs

These needs are characterized by self-respect and self-esteem. Self-respect is “the belief that you are valuable and deserve dignity.” Self-esteem is twofold—“it is based on the respect and acknowledgment from others and esteem which is based on your own self-assessment.”[4]

Often the players on the bench are the ones the coach respects the most because they work so hard in practices yet receive none of the glory. The best coaches never let the starters or stars ever denigrate the players on the bench. Coaches must always acknowledge the value and the dignity of those who play little. They often turn out to be the superstars of their professions.

Some coaches will never get “it.” They think they can motivate their players by degrading them. They embarrass the athletes during games and they constantly berate their performance in practices.

Great coaches are just the opposite. They are encouragers. They do push their players and they push them hard, but they always respect them. Great coaches enhance the self-esteem and confidence of their players.

5. Self-Actualization Needs

“Self-actualization describes the fulfillment of your full potential as a person.”[5]

I believe three words are the key to self-actualization: potential, effort, and regrets.

You often hear in athletics that a player has potential. It also is not uncommon for the person introducing the athlete to rave about his potential. I was fortunate to work with an outstanding man in the Milwaukee Bucks camps, Ron Blomberg. Ron had the best definition of potential that I ever heard: “Potential means he hasn’t done it.” Will he do all the work necessary to fulfill his potential?

Effort is great, but it’s not enough. If you want to reach your full potential, you must have a consistency of effort in your daily habit. Only consistency of effort can lead to success.

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John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, said that success is becoming all your ability will allow you to be. He agreed with his friend, major league umpire, George Moriarty, even though he used to kid him. Coach told him he never had seen Moriarty spelled with just one “i.” He followed this with, “Of course, the baseball players accused him of having only one ‘eye’ in his head as well.”

In his poem, The Road Ahead or The Road Behind, Moriarty wrote,

“. . . for who can ask more of a man
than giving all within his span, it seems to me, is not so far from – Victory.

When your life is winding down and you look back if you can say you gave “all in your span”—that you consistently gave it your best effort—you will have reached your full potential and there will be no regrets.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve learned more about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, consider reflecting on the last two needs (esteem needs and self-actualization needs) and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you doing all you can to enhance the self-esteem of those around you?
  • Are you doing all you can to self-actualize the potential you have been given?

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

Reference

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