Want to hear one of my all-time favorite quotes?
“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
When Stephen Chbosky wrote these words, he had no clue there was a teenage girl on the other side of the world who needed to hear exactly that.
I used to let people walk all over me. I thought love couldn’t get any better than that.
Then I realized it was all in my mind. If I decided I deserved the best kind of love the universe could offer me, I would eventually receive it.
I just had to learn I was worthy of it.
If you feel unworthy of love, say goodbye to these 9 habits.
1) Negative self-talk
I grew up in a small town in the Czech Republic. Throughout my teenage years, I noticed there was a pattern of how the people in my surroundings spoke of themselves – it was completely common to hit your toe and shout, “Damn, I’m so stupid!”
Subconsciously, I copied them. I called myself stupid, daft, clumsy, horrible, and many names much worse than that every time I did something small and ridiculous, from spilling a glass of water to forgetting my homework.
But then I grew up. I moved abroad. And slowly but surely, I recognized this kind of self-talk was doing so much unseen harm.
I was willing to let insults slide. I was friends with people who brought me down and I didn’t even notice. The way I spoke to myself influenced the way I let my environment treat me.
If you tell yourself you’re stupid and clumsy, you’ll eventually believe it.
And if you tell yourself you don’t deserve love, you’ll believe it, too.
2) Looking at your faults through a magnifying glass
Do you know that feeling when you’re standing in front of the mirror, scrutinizing every piece of your body?
If you feel unworthy of love, you’re probably doing it to your soul, too. You see a “flaw” – impatience, anxiety, neediness, avoidance, you name it – and you zoom in on it, making it a larger part of you than it has to be.
“Ugh, why am I always so impatient? I hate how needy I get! And why do I run away from problems all the time? I’m such a coward!”
Hear me out. What if you looked at those traits and reconfigured your approach? Every “fault” is a symptom of some underlying issue. It’s your mind letting you know you ought to look deeper. You ought to investigate.
Impatience might be a sign you are too scared to sit still because those painful thoughts will emerge once more. Let them. Feel them. They won’t go away just because you’re always on the move.
Similarly, “neediness” might just mean you have an anxious attachment style. The more you learn about it and how to cope with it, the better partner you become.
You are not a bad person. You are simply a work in progress.
3) Seeing yourself in black-and-white
Speaking of badness, people who feel unworthy of love tend to think it’s because there’s something inherently wrong with them.
They divide people into two categories – good and bad. This is especially the case if you have a Type 1 personality on the Enneagram scheme. You want to be good in all senses of the word. You want to be perfect. You want to do everything right.
But you’re not on this planet to be an angel. Otherwise you’d have wings or something.
You are human. Humans are inherently imperfect. You are not wholly good and you are not wholly bad.
And you deserve love no matter how flawed you are.
4) Telling yourself everything’s your fault
Here’s a harsh truth: the world does not revolve around you.
If your sibling’s not doing well at school, it doesn’t mean you’re to blame because you don’t help them with their homework often enough.
If your partner’s feeling down, it might have nothing to do with you.
If you come thirty seconds late to a meeting and your boss blows up, they probably have anger issues and need to sort themselves out.
You are not always to blame. Sometimes, it’s just a case of correlation, not causation. You may be at the wrong place at the wrong time or you may be loosely connected to something you did not start.
You’re not the source of everyone’s problems. You’re just another human.
5) Holding onto your regrets
We’ve all done something bad. How do I know?
I know because this is the first time for everybody. There was no rehearsal for any of us. We were just thrown into life with no guidebook attached and told to try our best.
You might have kicked another toddler when you were two, bullied someone when you were twelve, and broke another person’s heart when you were seventeen.
You might have said words you didn’t mean, done things that hurt others deeply, and acted in a way that makes you cringe looking back.
But do you know what that cringing feeling means? It means you’ve grown as a person since then. It means you are becoming better at life, year by year.
You can’t change the past. But you can do everything in your power to make the present the best it can be.
Everything you’ve done has led you here.
And that person you used to be? They do not define you.
6) Fighting to “earn” love
Once upon a time, I used to think love came as a result of my actions.
If I studied hard, I would “earn” love. If I was a good partner, my love would be reciprocated. If I did everything I could to collect as many accomplishments as possible, I would be worthy of all that life has to offer.
But love doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t deal in conditionals. When someone truly loves you, they love you for who you are when all the medals and ticked-off boxes are out of the picture.
They love you simply for existing.
And the best thing I’ve ever done was to cultivate that kind of love within myself. You deserve love when you’re bare and stripped of all your accomplishments. You deserve love when you’re lying in your bed, doing nothing. You deserve love when you’re sad and lazy and angry and stressed.
Love isn’t something earned. Love is freely given. All you need to do is accept it.
7) Surrounding yourself with people who bring you down
Our reality reflects our actions. Our actions reflect our thoughts. Our thoughts reflect our beliefs about ourselves.
If you believe you’re unworthy of love, you might become friends with people who strengthen that belief rather than challenge it. This is called confirmation bias.
But imagine what would happen if the people around you inspired you to grow. Who would you become if others lifted you up?
8) Putting others on a pedestal
Speaking of lifting, people who deem themselves undeserving of love have the tendency to view others in an idealized light.
In your mind, those people have been lifted high above you by the grace of their perfect personality, and they’re standing on a pedestal you can barely reach.
But that idea is nothing but exactly that – an idea. A flight of fancy. A thought that does not reflect reality.
Sure, some people seem more accomplished than others by society’s standards. You may have a friend who’s more productive than you, a partner who doesn’t get stressed out at every opportunity, or a parent who seems to have their life figured out.
But what you’re forgetting is that they are flawed, too. Do not reduce the complexity of a human being into a simple ideal.
People are more complicated than that.
9) Pushing your pain away
You think you don’t deserve love. And you think that’s the main problem.
But the raw truth is actually hiding much, much deeper.
I encourage you to ask yourself, “Why do I think I’m unworthy of love?”
Write it down. Speak it out loud. Reflect on your childhood and all the experiences that followed. Was there a moment – or moments – that sparked this belief? Have you ever felt you did, in fact, deserve love? What was different about it?
There will be pain. There will be ugly crying. There will be self-pity and misery. But you know what?
All of that is already there. It just needs acknowledgment. It needs you to stop pushing it away and start dealing with it.
Pain won’t go away unless you give it an outlet.
At the end of the day, I can tell you that you deserve love all day long, and you might not believe me anyway. Because that knowledge must come from within.
It must be felt. And in order to do that, you must take the decision to dive deeper than you ever have before.
It will be worth it.