The Five Key Reasons Why You Have A Low Sense Of Self-worth

Self-worth is a concept that’s gained traction and notoriety over the years, increasingly so with the wave of self-care that’s impressed itself upon society by the Millennial and Gen Z generations.

We see ads and commercials imploring us regularly to practice appropriate self-care in order to fuel and nurture our self-worth, but before buying into the message, we first need to examine what it means to have self-worth.

What is self-worth?

Before we can dive into the reasons why someone’s concept of self-worth may be lacking, we must first explore and define the term itself.

Self-worth is the way you view yourself; it is how you see your value and worth in the world.

Depending on your amount of self-worth, you can either hold yourself in high esteem and confidence, believing in yourself and your abilities, or you think poorly of yourself, recognizing little value in who you are as a person.

Between these two ends of the spectrum, there are many shades of self-worth that fall in between. You can have high self-worth in some areas but lack self-worth in others. You might think there are certain parts of yourself that are worth being cherished, and others that you are ashamed or embarrassed by.

Depending on where you are in your life, what you’ve experienced, and the people and circumstances that have entered your life, your amount of self-worth will vary and look different than the self-worth possessed by any other person.

Why is self-worth important?

Everyone has a sense of self-worth, regardless of if it’s through the roof or buried deep in a hole.

Whether the way you see yourself is highly esteemed or blemished and imperfect, it’s important to recognize how you currently see yourself so you can start to ask yourself why you see yourself through the lens you view yourself through.

Self-worth is important because it sheds some light onto who you truly see when you look in the mirror.

You may view yourself one way, but the rest of the world could view you completely differently.

You could have low self-esteem and poor self-image due to stories you’ve been told through your life, events you’ve experienced, or memories you’ve clung to, but the world could see you as an immaculate and strong human being.

Self-worth is funny that way; we see ourselves as being something specific, labeling ourselves in a certain way, while those around us see something completely different.

However, it’s important to know how you see yourself and validate that image. Giving credit to the viewpoint you currently have will open doors for you to explore increasing and improving your sense of self-worth through time and practice.

What is a low sense of self-worth?

A low sense of self-worth simply means you don’t hold yourself in very high regard.

You might not always see the good in yourself, you may be overly critical and self-degrading, you may not see the value you bring to the world. These characteristics and accumulate and form low self-worth.

Here are the 5 reasons why you may have a low sense of self-worth:  

1. Childhood experiences and lessons

Childhood is one of the prominent times of our lives that molds us into the adults we become. This isn’t true for everyone, but for many people, childhood experiences and lessons teach us who and what we are.

Experiences shape us. They impact us in vast ways, and to an extent, they impact who we become.

We all have memories from childhood, both good and bad. We remember the times we excelled at something in school or remember a close friend we had. We also remember the bully who picked on us in the 3rd grade, and we can recall the exact names and insults they threw our way.

Memories are strong and they leave an impression. Whether the children around you make fun of you for being chubby or for wearing glasses, whether you were made fun of for the way you spoke or the way you walked, those memories stick with you.

Often as you grow older, the words from others are embedded in your mind and you sometimes tell yourself the same things that others told you when you were young. This negative self-talk leads to a lower sense of self-worth.

2. The way you were raised

Just as we are affected by the things kids say to us when we’re young, we are just as impacted by the things our parents and guardians tell us growing up.

If the person who raised you had high standards for you, implying that anything less than an A wasn’t good enough, that affects you. If they pushed you to play every sport imaginable, encouraging a star performance at every game or match, that sticks with you.

As a child, you begin to tie your self-worth to your accomplishments. If you perform well, you are “good,” but if your performance is sub-par, you are “bad.” This type of thinking is black and white and is very common in someone who had overbearing parents or guardians.

A low sense of self-worth sneaks in when you start slacking off in school when you’re highly stressed or dropping the ball at work when you have family stuff going on.

It’s impossible to be perfect at everything you do, but when you’ve connected your self-worth to your performance, it’s easy to believe that because you weren’t the best, because you didn’t put forth high enough effort, because you didn’t excel, you are lacking value and worth as a person.

3. Experiencing traumatic events in the past

Lots of people hold trauma inside of them. Lots of people have experienced traumatic events that have deeply and harshly affected them, molding them into a different type of person than they expected to be.

Trauma is unfair. It’s never warranted, and it happens to people who don’t deserve it. Trauma also looks different for everyone, but all trauma is delicate and should be handled with care and tenderness.

Traumatic events that happen throughout your life can extremely impact the way you see yourself and your worth. You may believe that you deserved the trauma that was inflicted upon you, causing your self-worth to plummet.

People or things that have traumatized you may have told you or lead you to believe that you were not valuable as a human. They may have stolen your self-esteem and self-confidence from you; they may have stomped your self-worth into the ground.

Trauma does not make a person, but it does affect a person. Trauma often leads to a lower sense of self-worth due to the circumstances of the trauma, the things you were told during your experiences, and the events you lived through and overcame.

4. Your gender choice and preferences

Male, female, non-binary, gender fluid, transgender, non-conforming, and all other types of genders on the gender spectrum are susceptible to feeling a low sense of self-worth due to their gender of choice and preference.

The world is not always a very cushy and cozy place, and often looks down upon those who are viewed as “different.” We still commonly hear news stories about transgender people being murdered due to their sexual orientation. People who do not fit in the box society has built for them often face criticism and persecution, and this is detrimental to one’s self-worth.

If you express yourself through a certain gender that aligns with who you are, that is a brave and beautiful thing. It is empowering and strengthening, and it shows the world that you are proud of who you are. This, however, is not always how the world receives it.

Facing challenges and sexism based on your gender can lead down the path of low self-worth. You may have a hard time not internalizing the things people and society tell you, and you may fall into feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth as a result.

5. Your race and ethnicity

Racism is, sadly, still highly prominent in this day and age. We are bombarded with terrifying stories of racism that lead to murder and crime. While there has been slight progress made over the past few years, we are still living in a racist world and this has to be taken into account.

If you’ve ever experienced racism based on the color of your skin, your background, your accent, your hair texture or style, your heritage, and culture, or any other reason, this can and will affect you.

People say things without thinking. People make comments and remarks thinking they’re being complementary when they’re actually being insulting. People don’t always use common sense when it comes to race and ethnicity.

You may feel a lack of respect and concern from those around you, especially those in the majority, and you feel like your ethnic group is not represented as well as it should be. This can lead to lesser self-worth because you feel as though people don’t care enough to learn about you, and just lack care in general.

To sum it all up, low self-worth doesn’t often spring up out of nowhere; there is most likely a cause, one of which could be from the five key reasons detailed here. If you’re dealing with low self-worth, take a look at your circumstances and experiences, and there’s a high likelihood that you’ll find some of your roots hidden there.

Once the cause is determined, healing and progress can be made towards a higher and healthier sense of self-worth.

woman looking out a window with blinds
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash
Eden is a 26-year-old Aries who loves learning and exploring mental health, self-love, self-care, and eating disorder recovery.

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