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Today I’m going to be answering the question of whether having low self-worth affects your mental health, and, spoiler alert, yes, it does!
So if you’re currently struggling with your mental health, maybe you’ve been diagnosed with depression or anxiety or another mental health issue, or maybe you just want to learn more ways about how to improve your happiness, then I really think this post is going to be super relevant and super useful for you.
And give you a potential new avenue to go down when looking for ways to improve your mental health!
Quick disclaimer: If you have any mental health issues at all, or suspect any mental health issues, please, please, please, please make sure you’re seeing your doctor or your medical professional, because it’s so important that they’re on board with all the actions you’re taking as well.
I know I talk a lot about things you can do personally to improve your mental health, but you also need your medical professional there as well. It’s the coming together of both of those parts that really is where the amazing results come from.
What is self-worth?
But first let’s talk about what I mean when I say self-worth…
We more often hear things about self-esteem, self-confidence, the self love movement and self-worth tends to be a little less spoken about.
But in my experience and in my opinion, self-worth is the most important of all because it’s all about how you view yourself and how worthy you see yourself.
Which it can be difficult to see the importance at this stage, but as you keep reading I think you’ll see that self-worth is so, so relevant for your mental health.
How does low self-worth affect your mental health?
So let’s talk about how low self-worth (or low self-esteem) affects your mental health, and there are three really key reasons why.
The first reason is if you think you’re worthless or if you think you don’t deserve anything, or you have the view that you have a low worth or your worth relies on other’s opinions and thoughts, then it’s really hard to dedicate time and space in your life to things that you need to do to improve your mental health.
Really important things like self-care…
I really do believe that self-care can make the difference between recovering from depression or not, but when we’re locked in this place of believing we aren’t worthy it becomes so much more difficult to do the actions that are going to really improve our mental health.
Taking the example of self-care, self-care is fundamentally just for us so we’re much more likely to drop self-care and instead do something like work extra hours so that all our co-workers think we’re some amazing, productive person. And we do that in order to get the validation that we’re worthy because we have a low self-worth or is our self-worth is based on our accomplishments or what others think of ourselves.
When in reality, doing that self-care would have not only helped our mental health and made us happier, but because our mental health would have been in a better place, we would’ve been able to do that work way more easily without all the extra hours…
As many of you know, I recovered from quite severe depression a few years back, and I really credit self-care with a big part of my recovery and I wouldn’t have be able to get those results if I hadn’t been able to prioritize myself and give myself the self-care I needed.
But prioritizing yourself is almost impossible to do if you don’t think you deserve it…
So having a low self-worth will really, really negatively impact your mental health, because you’ll just find it so difficult to prioritize yourself and what you need.
The second reason why having a low self-worth has such a negative impact on your mental health is when your worth relies so much on other people’s thoughts about you or your successes and accomplishments, it’s so easy to end up overworking or overstretching yourself to fulfil these expectations, because, otherwise, what’s the point of you, right?
If you’re not getting the best grades, if you’re not getting new clients all the time, then what’s the point of your existence if all your worth relies on that?
And it’s so easy to fall into that trap.
But we also know that things like overworking, being super stressed and overstretching yourself can actually contribute to depression and poor mental health.
So it can turn into a bit of a chicken and egg situation – is your low self-worth further negatively affecting your mental health or did your low self-worth inadvertently cause your poor mental health because you were overworking and overstretching yourself and not living a life that is authentic to you in the first place?
I mean, this is often how people end up working for years and years in jobs they absolutely hate because they feel they don’t have any worth outside of that.
And I think it’s clear to see that if you’re in a situation you don’t enjoy for years, that’s going impact your mental health.
I know depression and mental health illnesses can be due to chemical imbalances in your brain, but big contributor to depression and poor mental health can also be environmental factors, such as having to go to work every day doing a job you hate!
Doing something you hate is a big enough environmental factor that could cause or exacerbate your depression, there’s no question about it…
You can actually do a really quick, easy assessment to see if this might be something that’s coming up in your own life.
Basically, you just want to ask yourself how much of what you do and what you want is what you truly want to be doing and what you truly want, versus what you think you should be doing and what you think you want?
For example, I always think I want to go traveling, but I’m actually not someone who’s super obsessed with traveling. There’s a couple of places I want to go to, but if I’m on Instagram for too long and I see all these people going to amazing places, I’m like, “I need to travel. I need to travel, I need to travel.”
But the reality is I don’t want to travel. I feel like I should want to travel.
And when I actually get clear with myself and ask myself those hard questions, it’s super easy to see that that’s not a high priority in my life. There’s other things that are a higher priority.
This is a somewhat lighthearted example, but you can definitely apply this to any aspect of your life and just see if your life is something that you want, or if, because you’re pinning your worth on things outside of you, you’re ending up living a life of *shoulds* rather than things that’s truly what you want…
And then the third reason as to why low self-worth can have such a negative impact on your mental health is because having low self-worth can keep us trapped in some really, really negative situations.
And this, again, builds on number two, where you can end up stuck in a job for a long time that you hate, but we can also take this one step further and see that having low self-worth can also be the reason why people might stay in abusive marriages or with abusive partners, in places where they’re bullied, continuing to spend time with people that don’t treat them right.
These sort of things, and again it’s not spoken about enough, they can negatively affect your mental health so much.
If someone is in a seriously abusive relationship, I don’t think anyone would be surprised if they develop depression or anxiety or any other mental health issue like that.
I mean any seriously negative situation is not going be good for our mental health long-term…
It’s just going to stress us out constantly and further wear down our self-worth.
So having low self-worth can mean you don’t feel like you’re worth getting out of a bad situation, that you have any other option, when that’s not the case at all!
What causes low self-worth?
But people often think, “Oh that all sounds well and good, but, you know, I had a great childhood. My life’s been perfect. I can’t possibly have low self-worth. That stuff doesn’t apply to me.”
So I just want to just quickly say that low self-worth can be caused by a huge number of things, and I will be doing a post just dedicated to this subject soon, but it’s so important I wanted to mention it here.
But low self-worth can also be a problem for people who have had great childhoods and great lives just because society often pins this thing on us that it’s our accomplishments that make us worthy.
You can have the most well-meaning, loving and wonderful parents, teachers, mentors and friends, but they can still reinforce those that societal idea that our self-worth is based on our accomplishments and what others think of us, and that can, in the longterm, lead to low self-worth.
So just because you identify as having a great life, can’t see anything major, any major traumas or anything that might cause low self-worth, don’t discount that this isn’t applicable to you.
And while those three reasons about how low self-worth can negatively impact your mental health might seem almost a bit obvious, also don’t discount how much the obvious can impact you.
I personally discounted how much my job could impact my mental health for too, too long, and making that change was what helped put in the final kicker and got rid of the depression for good.
How do I fix low self-worth?
Okay, so if you’ve identified that low self-worth is something you’re struggling with you’re probably wondering how you can fix low self-worth and get it to a good, nice, healthy place, which is what we all want!
And I actually did a post on this exact topic just listing out eight really simple, easy actions that make a big difference to your self-worth, and you can read that post here!
But I also made a FREE downloadable and printable checklist of those actions which you can grab your copy of by click the button below!