When You Don't Feel Worthy of Self-Care

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Living in a society that capitalizes on people seeking comfort and love outside of themselves, I believe that many of us struggle to prioritize self-worth and self-care for various reasons. We are bombarded daily by advertisements that continually reinforce the message that we are not enough or that we would be happier if we possessed certain things. It's no surprise that we often feel lost when it comes to self-care, and much of this struggle occurs on a subconscious level.

Growing up, there was this unspoken rule in my life: I came last. It wasn't something that was directly taught, but I picked it up somewhere along the way.  Everyone else's needs (especially my mother's needs), desires, and whims came before my own. So when I first tried putting myself first, it felt... off. Like wearing a shoe on the wrong foot.

At the beginning, every time I tried to prioritize my own needs, this nagging voice in my head kept telling me I was doing something wrong. My inner child was probably scared of what would happen if I broke the unspoken rule.  It was weirdly tough to shake off, but I knew I had to change. So, I started with baby steps, tiny acts of self-care here and there. And you know what? Over time, it started feeling less "wrong" and more "right".

Now, I’m in a much better place with it all. It's funny to think that something as simple as taking care of oneself could feel so foreign. But if I've learned anything, it's that sometimes the most simple habits to develop are the ones we need the most.

I highly recommend you to also read the article: Understanding Internalized Capitalism & How to Break Free


Why You Don't Feel Worthy of Self-Care

The term “self-care” has become synonymous with relaxation, rejuvenation, and self-love. From journaling to setting boundaries, the act of caring for oneself is heralded as the path to inner peace and well-being. However, for many individuals, the mere thought of self-care stirs up feelings of unworthiness, discomfort, or even guilt. What's alarming is that this sentiment often operates on a subconscious level, which means that people may not even be aware that they feel this way.

Why Don’t We Feel Worthy of Self-Care?

The notion of not feeling worthy of self-care isn’t a fleeting thought. It is deeply rooted in a person's psyche and often stems from a mix of past traumas, societal pressures, and personal experiences. Here are a few reasons why this might happen:

  1. Childhood Experiences: Childhood is a formative phase. If during this period, an individual was constantly told or made to feel that their needs were unimportant or secondary, they might internalize this sentiment and carry it into adulthood.

  2. Societal Pressures: Society often places more value on selflessness and sacrifice, especially among certain cultural or gender roles. Over time, this can make individuals believe that prioritizing their needs is selfish.

  3. Past Traumas: Experiences like emotional, physical, or sexual abuse can significantly impact an individual's self-worth. Victims may feel that they don't deserve love, care, or kindness.


Recognizing the Subconscious Signs of Unworthiness

Recognizing feelings of unworthiness requires introspection, as these beliefs often manifest in subtle ways:

1. Procrastination in Personal Tasks

Consistently putting off tasks or activities meant for personal growth or well-being, like skipping workouts or postponing doctor appointments, may hint at an internal sense of unworthiness. This procrastination isn't just about poor time management; it's a reflection of an individual's perceived value of their self-improvement efforts. Continually delaying these personal tasks suggests a deeper belief that one's own needs are not significant or deserving of attention. Over time, this habit forms a cycle that further entrenches feelings of unworthiness.


2. Feelings of Guilt

Experiencing guilt when spending time or money on oneself, even if it's for essential or beneficial things, is a common sign of self-worth issues. This guilt often comes from a belief that one doesn’t deserve to invest in oneself or that other people's needs should always come first. The chronic sense of guilt can lead to neglecting one's well-being and can be debilitating, affecting one’s ability to enjoy life fully. Overcoming this guilt requires recognizing one's inherent value and right to self-care.


3. Over-apologizing

Constantly saying sorry, especially in situations where it's unnecessary, indicates a deep-seated feeling of not wanting to occupy space or assert needs. This behavior may stem from a fear of conflict or a desire to be perceived as agreeable, but it ultimately comes from feeling undeserving of asserting one's own perspective. Over-apologizing can diminish one’s confidence and presence in personal and professional relationships. It often leads others to undervalue the over-apologizer, perpetuating a cycle of perceived unworthiness.


4. Neglecting Basic Needs

Skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, or neglecting hygiene can be indicators that one doesn’t value themselves enough to care for basic needs. Ignoring these fundamental aspects of self-care is a telltale sign that one might feel they're not worth the effort. This neglect can lead to deteriorating physical and mental health, further impacting self-esteem and reinforcing the belief in one’s unworthiness. Acknowledging the importance of these basic needs is a crucial step towards improving self-worth.


5. Poor Boundaries

People with poor boundaries often overcommit or allow others to take advantage of their time or resources. They may also struggle with standing up for themselves or feel responsible for others' emotions. Consequently, this pattern of behavior reinforces the subconscious belief that their needs and feelings are less important.


The Irony of Neglecting Self-Care

The irony is, neglecting self-care due to low self-esteem exacerbates feelings of worthlessness. By not giving oneself the necessary care and love, one further validates those negative self-beliefs. This vicious cycle can lead to more severe mental and emotional health issues, including depression and anxiety.

It's also essential to remember that self-care isn't just about pampering oneself. It encompasses essential health behaviors like eating nutritious meals, sleeping adequately, and seeking medical attention when required. Those with low self-esteem may neglect these fundamental aspects of care, jeopardizing their overall health.


Embracing Self-Care as a Path to Healing

Recognizing the problem is the first step. The journey to believing in one's worthiness of self-care and love can be arduous but is crucial for overall well-being and mental health. Here are some steps to start the healing process:

  1. Affirmations: Start the day with positive affirmations. Repeating phrases like "I am worthy of love and care" can slowly change subconscious beliefs.

  2. Seek Professional Help: Therapists or counselors can provide invaluable insights into the root causes of feelings of unworthiness and offer strategies for overcoming them.

  3. Set Boundaries: It's essential to establish personal boundaries. This teaches others how to treat us and reinforces our own beliefs about our self-worth.

  4. Start Small: Begin with minor acts of self-care. Over time, as comfort grows, these actions can become more significant and frequent.

  5. Educate Yourself: Read books, attend workshops, or listen to podcasts on self-worth and self-care. Knowledge can be empowering.

Feeling unworthy of self-care is more common than we might think, and its roots often lie in subconscious beliefs shaped by past experiences. By recognizing the signs and taking active steps to embrace self-care, individuals can not only heal past wounds but also pave the way to a future of better mental health and improved self-esteem. After all, every individual, irrespective of their past, deserves love, care, and kindness.


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