7 signs a lack of self-worth is holding you back in life

Let me guess.

You feel stuck. Trapped. Fenced in. You’re moving through each day with the feeling that something inherent is missing, some spark that would give way to a flame, some sense of meaning.

The life as you’re living it isn’t fulfilling – but each time you get a chance to make it better, you come up short and tumble back into the same old habits that feel safe and suffocating at the same time.

But what if I told you that your self-worth might have a lot to do with how high you can reach? What if I said that feeling unworthy of a good life might be the reason you never allow yourself to achieve it in the first place?

Here are the 7 signs a lack of self-worth is holding you back in life.

1) You keep your options limited

A lack of self-worth equals a lack of entitlement.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “But entitlement is bad, right?”

Wrong. While too much entitlement isn’t great – no one likes people who think they deserve an award although they’ve done close to nothing to put in the effort – a healthy sense of entitlement is vital to success.

When you think about your future, do you imagine that all those dreams can *actually* come true? That you deserve it all? That you’re the kind of person who is worthy of that expensive holiday in Bali, the jacuzzi in your back garden, and the job you’ve always wanted?

If you have low self-worth, there is a high likelihood you consider those things nothing but flights of fancy.

But they’re not. They are real goals that real people keep reaching day after day, and a huge reason why is that they *allow* themselves to imagine what others consider unimaginable.

Your own mind is where it all starts. If you think that the best thing you can ever get is a good enough job, some sense of stability, and a dog, that’s exactly what you’ll strive to achieve – without realizing that you could go much higher if only you dared to dream bigger.

Of course, many of us don’t need luxurious holidays and beach villas to be happy, but that’s not the point. The point is that if you feel stuck in life, it means you’re meant for more than your current reality – and you’re forbidding yourself from getting there because deep down, you don’t think you’re worth it.

2) You reject amazing opportunities out of fear

Wow, you’ve been offered an amazing job!

Except you’d have to move abroad to do it, and you kind of like your life here although you’ve got no ties to this place, but no matter – you’re underqualified anyway, and they’d probably fire you after a week. And then you’d have to come back with your tail between your legs.

Better not try at all. It’s too much hassle, and plus, your mom would miss you.

…you might think that your life isn’t what it’s meant to be without any contribution on your part, but frankly, you are the one in charge. You are the one making up excuses just so you don’t have to leave your comfort zone.

Unexpected things may happen to you, sure, but it is ultimately up to you to decide how you react to them. And if you don’t think you’re good enough to lead a better life, you’ll simply reject every great opportunity that presents itself to you.

But it is exactly through those opportunities that you’ll grow and gain confidence.

Challenge yourself. Try saying “yes” to everything that’s out of your comfort zone for a few months. It will be uncomfortable as hell, but at the end of it all, you’ll see that you’re capable of so much more than you think.

3) You tend to give up too quickly

A few years ago, I imagined a perfect future in which I’d wake up, write for hours, go to the gym, work on various different side projects, eat nutritious meals, go on trips into nature, live in a clean space, wear amazing clothes, and overall have my life together.

I tried to have that lifestyle many times, and many times, I failed. And failed. And failed again.

As I looked at the slow progression into despair visible on my habit tracker – the first week was a blast of motivation, while the third was a blank wall of unticked boxes – I sighed and gave up.

A few months later, I mustered enough self-hatred to try the whole thing again, only to arrive at the same disappointing conclusion: I couldn’t do it.

Except I could. Because I’m doing it now.

So, what’s the difference between my past and current self?

I now stick to my habits because I know I deserve to live a good life. That sense of self-worth and discipline keeps me going when motivation fails (and it does many times).

I deserve to have a fit and healthy body. I deserve to write a good book. I deserve to reconnect with nature.

When you flip the narrative in such a way – thinking about your habits as things you are already worthy of instead of things you have to do in order to earn some kind of validation – your healthy habits are more likely to stick.

4) You overthink small issues that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things

Ugh. What you said at the meetup to that one person was *so* embarrassing. Now you can never go back and form a new friendship group because you’ve embarrassed yourself.

(Spoiler alert: no one remembers, let alone cares.)

And what about that stain on the T-shirt you have on? You can’t possibly turn up to the interview wearing that, but you also don’t have the time to go home and change. Just forget about it. You didn’t care about getting the job that much anyway.

(Spoiler alert: the T-shirt isn’t a big deal and you would have gotten the job if only you dared to attend the interview.)

Overthinking is holding you back in life for a multitude of reasons:

  • It helps you come up with enough excuses to give in to your fear and back out of anxiety-inducing yet exciting opportunities
  • It increases your stress and anxiety, leading to more social isolation
  • It’s terrible for your mental health because you’re so stuck in your head that you overexaggerate small worries that confident people would pass off as nonconsequential issues, thereby reinforcing the loop of negativity you constructed in your mind

Your makeup is just fine. People won’t think you’re weird if you act like your authentic self (and if they do, they’re not your kind of people). No, you didn’t embarrass yourself. No one hates you.

The one thing that helped me stop overthinking so much was to realize I wasn’t really that important. Everyone’s so preoccupied with their own lives that they don’t have the energy to contemplate what you’re wearing or that strange thing you once said in class.

And the less you overthink, the more time you have to focus on things that truly matter: your passions and goals.

5) You let the fear of embarrassment dictate your life

Here’s something that may be hard to hear: in order to be excellent at something, you first need to be willing to embarrass yourself.

Everyone’s a beginner at some point.

Your first YouTube video will be terrible.

Your first TikTok or Instagram Reel will be the most cringy thing you’ve ever seen.

Chances are that the first ever book you write will never get published.

The first time you go climbing, you’ll probably fall on your ass for everyone to see.

But once you decide to embrace embarrassment, you essentially kill it. When you’re already laughing at yourself, there’s no reason for others to laugh at you, too – they’re just laughing *with* you.

People who lack self-worth are terrified of embarrassment because it only feeds into the narrative about how awful they are.

But the moment you throw embarrassment out the window and just go for it is also the moment you make the first step toward gaining more self-worth and confidence. This will in turn reinforce your new-found resilience to cringe, creating a positive feedback loop.

6) Your insecurities complicate your personal relationships

Your relationship with your partner, family, and friends is basically the most important thing in your life.

If the quality of your relationship suffers, your well-being takes a hit, too. Let’s be real – a great job and a fun hobby can only get you so far. Humans are social beings, and we need other people to truly thrive.

If your relationships keep falling apart because your insecurities are getting in the way – for example, you get jealous often, you compare yourself to your friends and compete with them, or you never fight for yourself and surround yourself with people who only bring you down – it’s a sign your lack of self-worth is what’s holding you back from unlocking a new level of happiness.

7) You don’t give yourself credit where credit is due

Look at how far you’ve come! No, really, look!

“It’s no big deal,” you might say.

“It was nothing,” you may wave your hand.

But that’s where you’re wrong. It *is* a big deal, and it *is* something.

And the moment you acknowledge and validate your past accomplishments, you will be more likely to recognize how much more you can accomplish if only you try.

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished.
Get in touch at denisacerna.writing@gmail.com or find me on LinkedIn.

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