Personal Devaluation: Feeling Worthless

You could say that personal devaluation is one of the most common and widespread conditions of our time. But how does it develop, and what are its characteristics? How badly might it affect you?
Personal Devaluation: Feeling Worthless

Last update: 02 January, 2021

Having self-value or good self-esteem means being aware of your own resources and potential. In addition, it means knowing your own failings and weaknesses. However, most people aren’t very good when it comes to their own self-worth. Indeed, you might find yourself going down all the wrong roads to try to achieve good self-esteem. In fact, as a rule, attempts at improving low self-esteem are prone to fail, and you might end up devaluing yourself over time. This is called personal devaluation.

Personal devaluation: persistence and resistance to change

Many people seek recognition in their environment by helping or pleasing others. But if you’re always putting others first, you may become completely overlooked. Indeed, you probably don’t think of yourself at all. In fact, you may feel that your sole goal in life is to please others, and that’s what gives your life purpose.

At least this is what you probably tell yourself, so you can stop feeling like a doormat or something you might wipe the floor with. But this strategy doesn’t work. Because, deep down, you still feel like a doormat. If you feel like this, it can become a persistent and ongoing problem. Furthermore, you’ll become resistant to change.

When something like a gesture, an action, a label, a style, or a problem becomes systematized over a period of time, it becomes resistant to change. This results in a decrease in creativity. Therefore, if you’ve become used to personally devaluing yourself, you’ll find you only have a very narrow range of solutions available to you. This means that you’ll tend to do just more of the same, rather than looking for new solutions.

A woman looking unhappy.

Failure to recognize poor solutions

As strange and unbelievable as it might seem, some people take the same steps repeatedly in order to solve their problems, even if these previous outcomes weren’t favorable. In other words, they’re just increasing the dose of the same medicine repeatedly to cure their illness, even though they’ve done it before and it hasn’t worked.

It seems that people have a knack for repeating the same methods repeatedly, even though they don’t work. Furthermore, they don’t even question or modify these methods in order to get different results.

Repeating the same methods leads to the same results, many of which turn out to be failures. These results tend to reinforce personal devaluation, reaffirm low self-esteem, and everything that comes with it.

There are many examples of solutions that fail. When a person who’s afraid of elevators and enclosed spaces has to face them, they’ll repeat again and again “It’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen” setting in motion the whole chain of events to actually happen.

A person with anorexia has all of their family telling them to eat, while they continue to reject food even more. A man with depression who feels sad, anxious, and listless and doesn’t even want to get out of bed has to listen to his wife saying “Look at the beautiful day! Get up! Let’s go for a walk!” This just makes him feel useless. Everyone’s telling him what he should do and he can’t find an ounce of pleasure in it.

Seeking your value in your surroundings

If you find refuge in personally devaluing yourself, you fail to obtain recognition and only achieve outcomes that are opposite to what you really want. Therefore, when what you really want is to be appreciated and valued in your own environment, you actually end up reaffirming your own personal devaluation.

This happens in the case of givers who are always too willing to help others and, thus, end up being used and mistreated. Similar is the case of the undervalued person who always puts others first and ends up feeling frustrated because they’ve never managed to fulfill any desires in their own life.

These kinds of helpers struggle to find security within a relationship because they tend to love unconditionally. Indeed, the devalued ones will always put the partner first. In addition, they won’t allow the partner to feel any need or desire. This is because, before their partner’s even had a chance to feel a need or a desire, they’ve already supplied it.

In effect, this is a kind of slavery. Because the partner isn’t even being allowed to feel the need to be with the protagonist. It’s hardly surprising then that the devalued person eventually becomes almost invisible. Because they’re always there, fulfilling their partner’s every need and desire before their partner even realizes that need or desire exists.

Therefore, loving unconditionally leads to invisibility, when, in fact, what’s wanted is the exact opposite. Indeed, unconditional love actually confirms the personally devalued person’s low self-esteem.

Personal devaluation: other examples

Another kind of action that tends to be doomed to fail is when a young person shows themselves to be an outstanding student. These young people who strive for perfection through good grades hide their need for love, value, and approval. Thus, they generate zero expectance because their family and friends know they’re going to get the best results. Hence, they lose their place in the spotlight because it’s automatically expected that they’ll get good grades and, however outstanding their performance is, it’s largely ignored. This is the complete opposite of what they really want.

Also, there are those who place themselves in a position of weakness or to be pitied. By doing this, they’re secretly hoping that others will recognize qualities of endurance and strength in them. In fact, all that happens is that other people tend to feel repulsion towards them. This is because they get fed up with their constant complaining and the “poor little me” attitude. In fact, they usually end up trying to completely avoid them.

In some cases, the individual might show a certain amount of rationality regarding their personal skills. When this happens, they actually acknowledge that they possess a wide range of resources and argue that they do value themselves. However, when it comes to actually using those resources, they weaken, have no faith in themselves, and feel small and insignificant. This fact even becomes evident in their posture since, more often than not, you’ll see them hunching their shoulders.

A couple looking unhappy.

Behind personal devaluation: insecurity, fear, and guilt

Another consequence of personal devaluation is insecurity. When someone has low self-esteem, they aren’t sure how to deal with situations. In this sense, personal devaluation and insecurity go hand in hand. One walks alongside the other.

An insecure person is insecure because they believe they have no possibilities or resources to support their actions. But a third concept completes this trilogy: fear.

Fear is a consequence of low self-esteem. The person is filled with negative thoughts that immobilize them and make them ashamed to face situations. Furthermore, they experience feelings and thoughts linked to helplessness.

Finally, there’s a fourth feeling that the undervalued person feels: guilt. This is the constant feeling that goes along with all forms of personal devaluation. “I should’ve done that. I didn’t do it because I’m so stupid.” “If I’d finished school, I’d have a better career now.” They experience all of these kinds of thoughts, along with even more internal rumination that makes them beat themselves up even more.

Believe in yourself

If you don’t value yourself or believe in your own abilities, you’ll feel unable to do anything because you’ll be unsure as to whether you’re presenting a rational and consistent enough impression on others. Then, doubt arises. You’ll be full of questions, which increases your anxiety and doubts. You need to try to design a plan or build strategies and ways to meet your goals. This way, you can anticipate the situation and make yourself feel safer.

If you personally devalue yourself, you become able to convert any kind of situation into a test in your imagination. You might decide it isn’t even worth bothering with. You’ll be filled with fear of failure and lack of recognition. Such thoughts make you afraid. You’re afraid that others will devalue you and find out who you really are. You’re afraid that your imperfections and inabilities will be exposed to everyone. This fear dulls you, and the brilliance of your abilities can’t shine through.

Is healthy self-esteem possible?

Low self-esteem is something that wastes and disrupts your plans. It stops you from being creative, generates insecurity, and makes you anxious and distressed. It complicates your relationships. Indeed, it’s such a plague that it gradually eats away, penetrates, and devastates, having a deteriorating effect on your personality.

On the other hand, true self-esteem is a feeling that emerges spontaneously, in the face of experience. It’s an inner feeling. It isn’t a dependency upon external recognition. It’s a recognition of yourself.

Feeling valued is a state of mind, where you manage to extract the positive from all situations, people, and life in general. You also understand that you can’t be everything to all people and situations. Indeed, anyone who thinks they can be all things to all people is making a rather high and mighty presumption.

Look after yourself, let yourself grow, and don’t let yourself fall into the trap of devaluing yourself.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.