Feeling unimportant and useless at times isn’t uncommon, but there are ways you can ease these feelings.
Have you ever felt down about yourself? Was it hard to shake those feelings?
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone.
Many of us deal with stressful work environments and home lives. And sometimes when we don’t live up to our own expectations, it can make us question ourselves and our self-worth.
But there are ways to cope with feelings of worthlessness and boost your sense of self-worth.
Feeling worthless can be connected to different mental health conditions, but can also arise due to past trauma or external stress.
Guilt surrounding productivity is very common and can often lead to a sense of worthlessness.
This was especially true during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when rates of isolation and loneliness were high, according to
If productivity is your concern, consider:
- pushing past your desire to compare situations
- embracing your journey as being just as important as your ending point
- examining your expectations of yourself
- evaluating the guilt you have attached to productivity
But remember, what counts as productive is subjective. Everyone has different abilities. Personal and environmental stressors can change daily, if not hourly. So try not to compare yourself and your productivity to anyone else.
Feelings of worthlessness are a common symptom of major depressive disorder.
But not everyone who has depression or depressive symptoms has major depression. Other types of depression where you may have this symptom include:
- premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- seasonal depression
- postpartum depression
- adjustment disorder (aka situational depression)
Other mental health conditions
Because depressive episodes are a part of experiencing bipolar disorder, feelings of worthlessness can also occur with this condition.
Feeling worthless can also sometimes be triggered by specific traumatic or stressful events. Post-traumatic stress disorder is another mental health condition where you may experience feelings of worthlessness.
Continued stress can also bring up feelings of worthlessness, particularly if the stress is connected to something personal such as finances or relationship issues.
The goal to stop feeling worthless isn’t easy — there’s no on and off button. And if it’s connected to a chronic mental health condition such as depression, it can be managed but may not go away forever.
But it is a negative thought pattern that can be addressed and treated.
Therapy and medication
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a great way to process feelings you’re dealing with.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of psychotherapy, can be particularly great since therapists can help you notice and replace negative thinking patterns.
A mental health professional may also recommend medications to help manage your symptoms. They can work with you to develop a treatment plan that works best for you and your unique situation.
If you’re aiming to address your negative thoughts, it’s crucial to ensure your social circles can help you positively reinforce those goals.
Consider your inner circle and ask yourself these questions:
- Do I feel anxious around certain people?
- Do I question my self-worth when I’m around them?
- Do I generally feel bad about myself when I’m with them or after I leave them?
If you answered yes to one or more of these, consider limiting your interactions with those people, when possible.
Consider surrounding yourself with folks who are supportive of you and your goals and can help hold you accountable to them.
Support groups can be another option, especially if you’ve dealt with a specific trauma or situation.
Your friends can be a part of your circle of support, but connecting with folks who have had similar situations can be particularly beneficial when it comes to sharing, processing, and asking for guidance.
When feelings of worthlessness stem from a lack of productivity, it may be helpful to reassess what productive means to you.
Instead of attributing productivity to your job or something that produces a tangible or financial result, consider adding something you enjoy to the list — such as baking, painting, or roller-blading.
Keeping a journal is another way you can manage negative thoughts and feelings. This can be a way to keep track of any potential triggers, or just provide a space for you to process your feelings.
Making time to do things solely for your own enjoyment can make a difference in your mental health and take the strain off your job as your only source of self-worth.
Fake it until you make it
As humans, we’re wired to have a negativity bias — a psychological principle that says we’re more likely to absorb and hold onto negativity, making it a major factor when it comes to feeling worthless.
Challenging negative self-talk may sound impossible, but it can be done.
A great way to try this is by using positive affirmations. Try saying things to yourself that will help you get through the day such as:
- “You are worthy of happiness and deserve to feel peace.”
- “Your feelings are valid and they’re temporary.”
- “You deserve to be here.”
Talking to yourself may feel silly at first, but it might also help you learn to be kinder to yourself and push aside the negative thoughts that arise.
Experiencing feelings of worthlessness is common at times, especially when you’re navigating a mental health condition such as depression or bipolar disorder.
Even though these conditions may be chronic, they can be managed with therapy and medication. Learning coping skills to recognize, minimize, and rethink thought patterns can also be helpful.
When you find yourself feeling worthless, try to remember that your feelings are valid but they’re also temporary.
You can find support whether that’s through a support group or talking one on one with a mental health professional. If you’re unsure where to start, you can check out Psych Central’s hub on finding mental health support.