Feeling Unworthy or Undeserving? Let’s Undo That

dejected looking young womanBeing deserving means having an expectation of goodness in your life. It is the goodness of people, relationships, and situations that we all want and deserve in our lifetime. We are all deserving of:

  • a safe place to live and work
  • relationships and people who love us
  • colleagues and employers who respect and support us

The idea of being deserving isn’t a new one. But for someone who is not used to feeling deserving or worthy, it can be a difficult concept.

As a black woman, I grew up with conflicting messages from my family telling me that I was capable and deserving of whatever my heart desired. But then I went into the world only to be told directly and indirectly how undeserving I was. Whether I was undeserving of the same respectful treatment my colleagues were given, of being seated at a restaurant, or of the promotion that I’d worked hard for, I was constantly told and reminded how undeserving I was.

For many people, there is a tension between what we come to believe we deserve and what others tell us we deserve. Whether it’s an outsider or ourselves limiting our expectations, though, it makes it more challenging to live a fulfilled life. Perhaps the limitations you experience in life are a result of a deeper belief that you don’t deserve more. Though it doesn’t feel good, it is familiar to stay in a situation that you’re used to.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are steps you can take toward having the life you want and deserve.

First, ask yourself, “Do I deserve good things in my life?” If the answer is no, why not? Why can’t you have the relationship, job, or life that you want? Take the time to write your answers. You may surprise yourself with the thoughts that are unconsciously swirling around your head. Many times, these buried thoughts come from long-ago experiences that hurt us and continue to influence us today. If you don’t uncover them, you can’t change them!

Now that you know where your feelings of being undeserving come from, you have some investigating to do. Are the comments that were made to you 20 years true today? Were they true then? Don’t give yourself an automatic answer; take the time to expose the validity, or lack thereof, of these thoughts.

A true investigation requires more than just your perspective. Gather three people who are honest, who love and encourage you. Ask for their opinion and thoughts about the messages you received when you were younger. Picking the right three people is key. They shouldn’t be people who will agree with you no matter what; otherwise, you won’t believe them. Nor should they be the people who initially conveyed these messages! They need to be people who will be honest with you while loving and supporting you.

Once your investigation is complete, you need to review this new information. Ask yourself again, “Am I deserving?” and “What am I deserving of?” Are your answers any different than the original ones?

What do you want to do with this new information? Do you want to hold onto it and ponder it? Or are you ready to take action and make changes in your life?

If you are ready to make a change, repeat the following daily: “I am worthy and deserving of goodness.”

Imagine the difference on your psyche and in your interactions with others if you move from saying “I’m worthless” day after day to saying “I am worthy and deserving of goodness.” Repeat “I am worthy and deserving of goodness” each time you go outside. Whether you’re leaving for work in the morning, taking a lunch break, or going to the store, say it. In doing so, you will challenge your thinking and your beliefs about your worth. It will lead you to the interactions, relationships, and situations that you are truly deserving of!

What or who makes you feel deserving? Let us know in the comments section below.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Simeon

    July 28th, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    When my kids are actually excited to see me walk through the door in the evening even though I am not feel like I do enough to deserve that kind of love, they show me in the most loving and natural way possible that they think I deserve it, and that my friends is always good enough for me.

  • Serene

    July 28th, 2014 at 4:31 PM

    It has taken me quite a while but I am finally learning to live up the message in my name. Peace

  • Tn11

    July 28th, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    I understand your inquiry and empathize. All I can do is pray we both move through it.

    If you pray for me, I’ll pray for you.
    Much love.

  • Therese

    July 29th, 2014 at 4:08 AM

    My best frinend is the person in my life who makes me feel the most loved- I am so lucky to have found her and to have had her in my life since I was 13. She knows me upside and down, inside and out and I would be lost without her! She is my Thelma and I am her LOuise!

  • Cady

    July 29th, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    All of us have to know that the things that someone said to us or about us 20 years ago can’t be true today but we all sometimes hold onto those feelings and beliefs because this is what we have used to shape our own beliefs about ourselves.

    No matter how much we wish that the past would stop coming back to haunt us it still manages to weasel its way in even though we know that we have moved on and moved forward.

  • Ayla

    July 30th, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    Our minds are complex things, they can hold on to some comments that were made about us years and years ago and still hold them true. What helped me was reading some self-help books and I also use affirmation cards. The ones I use are called Heal and Prosper: amazon.com/gp/product/9619355857. They help me train my brain to get used to hearing positive things about me so that my body no longer fights them (I would usually find a counter comment when someone complimented me), but accepts them as true.

  • Tonya Ladipo

    July 31st, 2014 at 7:02 PM

    Thanks for the resource Ayla! Affirmations and positive self-talk are great ways to start believing in your worthiness.

  • Denise

    December 9th, 2014 at 2:07 AM

    I’ve been feeling hopeless and worthless for as long as I can remember (since childhood). Now that I’m in my forties, I’ve been feeling worse. I feel I have nothing to live for or to look forward to. I’m not sure which way to go. My life has not seemed worth living. I need help.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    December 9th, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    We received the comment that you submitted on our blog earlier today. Thank you so much for visiting GoodTherapy.org. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, in danger of hurting yourself or others, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it’s very important that you get immediate help! You can do one of the following immediately:

    • Call your local law enforcement agency (911);
    • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room;
    • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY:1-800-799-4TTY)

    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is equipped to take a wide range of calls, from immediate suicidal crisis to providing information about mental health. Some of the reasons to call are listed below: • Call to speak with someone who cares;
    • Call if you feel you might be in danger of hurting yourself;
    • Call to find referrals to mental health services in your area;
    • Call to speak to a crisis worker about someone you’re concerned about.

    If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can call your local hotline and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) (TTY 1−800−787−3224)

    RAINN provides support for sexual assault victims and their loved ones through two hotlines at 800.656.HOPE and Online.RAINN.org. Whether you are more comfortable on the telephone or online, RAINN has services that can guide you in your recovery.
    • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: If you need support, call 800.656.HOPE, and you will be directed to a rape crisis center near your area.
    • The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline: is the first secure web-based crisis hotline providing live and anonymous support through an interface as intuitive as instant messaging.
    • For more information visit http://rainn.org/get-help/national-sexual-assault-online-hotline.

    Warm regards,

    GoodTherapy.org Team

  • kristen

    March 12th, 2015 at 5:44 PM

    I am at a loss. I have felt worthless most of my life. Then I met my husband and for many years things were great. Then 4 years ago things began to go south. We had a young girl move in with us that had severe issues and I was not equipped to deal with. Caused me to go into a severe depression and turn into someone I didn’t even recognize. That led to husband having a year long affair with a 16 year old. Been in counseling since July both individual and couples. I still feel worthless. Running out of hope. I have given up on myself and life.

  • Paul

    January 7th, 2020 at 10:35 PM

    Hi Kristen,
    Please read the comment I left for Kimberly, right below your post.

  • kimberly

    April 20th, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    I have felt unworthy and unloved for quite a long time. I have 3 beautiful children and a grandson whom I adore. I am such a failure, I keep loosing homes and jobs and people that I care so much about. I’ve never done drugs, never alcohol. I’ve always felt like I don’t deserve to be happy. I was adopted at birth by my grandmother who passed away years ago. My mother has always let me know that I’m not loved or even wanted. I feel like such a failure, and I really don’t know what to do. Is there any help for me?

  • Paul

    January 7th, 2020 at 10:32 PM

    Hi Kimberly,
    Have you ever tried Hypnotherapy? Feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, self-criticalness, etc. are imprinted at a young age and buried in the subconscious. Did you know that most behaviors and thought, about 95%, in a typical day are driven by the subconscious mind. It is literally like tape recorder that can only record words, images, feelings and play them back through the conscious mind. Many times when people are thinking they’re acting out of free will they are actually being affected and therefore controlled by subconscious impulses. There is help out there!

  • Spence

    July 19th, 2015 at 9:21 PM

    unworthines, like all emotions is created at a young age by parents or people who raised us. The way to release it is to grieve or cry about how it feels. It will stay in your soul until your willing to feel the full extent of how bad and painful it feels. Check out divine truth on YouTube

  • Chris

    April 30th, 2016 at 5:05 AM

    Unworthiness can be instilled at any age by someone who enjoys diminishing your value or lacks the social skills to offer respect and support. The residual feelings left by your grandmother will have left an imprint that needs erasing. All the best.

  • Chantera I.

    June 18th, 2016 at 12:22 AM

    Thank you.

  • Scott

    August 15th, 2017 at 2:21 PM

    I feel unworthy because I was told often by all except my family that I was stupid and not worth bothering them. I am 51 single and lonely. I haven’t had many friends or relationships and feel lonely most of the time even when I’m with others. I have recently lost my mum and my dad died over a decade ago. I am currently writing poetry and struggling with everything else.

  • DB

    June 25th, 2018 at 10:24 AM

    Good discussion.

  • Kirsty

    October 29th, 2019 at 4:28 PM

    I feel unworthy alot of times i lost my mother recently it’s hard to cope with daily living i have two young adult children, who live with me. I’m grateful for them even if there dad is a true. Toxic person that. Is very Creul never says anything nice and. Im. Happy. We have no contact with anymore…

  • Valerie L.

    September 14th, 2021 at 8:49 AM

    I agree with the article, however, she left out an important measure. Many times black families tell their children they are not deserving but when they look at the world they believe they do. It works both ways.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.


* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.