When we have low self-worth, we need external validation. In other words, we need people’s approval, praise and admiration. The ego will go to all lengths to get this; making us sick, tired, angry and stressed to get it. Low self-worth is a sign that the ego is in charge.
You may be thinking, ‘I don’t have an issue with self-worth. I feel pretty good about myself.’ That’s great and I hope you do have self-worth. But, low self-worth can be cleverly disguised. Afterall, the ego is involved and when the ego is involved things aren’t as clear as they may seem. The ego wants to deceive us to prevent our change and personal growth. Sometimes we directly seek people’s good opinion. This is pretty straight forward. But other times, we go about it indirectly and unconsciously. This is where it would be helpful to become more aware. Perhaps we judge someone or put them down – this is so we can feel better about ourselves; or we need to show (to others or just ourselves) how someone is wrong or point out a mistake – this is so we can feel right and therefore better; or we choose to not forgive someone – this is so we can feel superior (ego thinks: ‘As long as I remember and not forgive that wrong thing you did, I can feel good that I didn’t do that.’)
If we are ever feeling any of the following things, that is an indicator of lack of self-worth:
- Needing to feel important
- Needing to feel we are better than him or her
- Comparing ourselves to others
- Making others wrong and ourselves right (or vice versa)
- Pointing out others’ faults or shortcomings
- Judging others
- Not forgiving
- Needing to be center of attention/popular
- Feeling like what we say or do doesn’t matter or won’t make a difference
- Feeling not heard
- Feeling not respected
- Concern about making people mad
- Feeling like we don’t deserve something
- Thinking we are not capable
- Thinking our work is not good enough
- Feeling inferior to another person (not as pretty, smart, ambitious…)
- Need for perfection
- Wanting to fit in
- Considering what people might think about your looks, actions, ideas, etc.
- Changing your behavior because of what people may say or think
- Needing people to approve of you or your decisions
This is not a complete list and, of course, we may feel worthy in some areas and times and not others. But who feels worthy 100% of the time about 100% of things? This list isn’t to make us feel bad about ourselves. This is to wake us up to see the ego’s disguised ways so that we can transcend the ego and get to true joy.
So we can get clear about when and how the ego is controlling our lives, let’s ask ourselves, How have I felt unworthy? In what situations or with which people do I feel unimportant, unheard or that I don’t matter? What do I think I don’t deserve and why not? When have I changed my behavior based on what people might think of me? When do I need to be right? When do I need people to praise me or my clothes, appearance, car, house, work, performance, etc? Who can I not forgive? When or about whom do I judge or gossip?
A recent personal example- I hesitated telling my family and friends about this blog for fear of their bad opinions. Actually, I didn’t fear their bad opinions. More like a lack of enthusiasm, which my ego would cunningly twist into meaning a bad opinion.
Another recent example- I was so aggravated with and judged a coworker’s mistakes. While I was muttering under my breath about her incompetence, I found a mistake of my own! That’s when I realized my ego was putting her down in order to try to validate my self-worth.
But, what if we actually are right and another person wrong? Or prettier, stronger, smarter, better at certain activities than others? Let’s get into ranking and comparing next time.