Psych Central


rejectA feeling of being unlovable is the attitude that one is not now, never has been and never will be lovable to any member of the same or opposite sex.  This feeling can be a cancer of the personality, a mental melanoma and a malignancy of the spirit.  These maladies can be fatal if allowed to remain undiagnosed and untreated, as they usually are.  A feeling of being unlovable is a facet of self-contempt.  Without love, or even the hope of love, life is hardly worth living.

We aren’t born feeling unlovable.  We start out feeling no more and no less lovable than any one else.  Then something happens to take away our birthright, our right to love and be loved as an equal member of the human race.

Julia, Early Recollection

“I was about five.  I always tried to be a good girl, but I was always being punished for something.  I remember one night my mother was holding my little brother on her lap.  I wanted to sit on her lap too.  She said, ‘Go away.  Can’t you see I’m holding the baby!’  I had done something wrong again, but I didn’t know what.”

It is apparent now to Julia that what she did “wrong” was to be born female and to want her mother’s love.  From this incident and countless others, Julia learned that males like Bobby are lovable; females like herself are not.  The question arises to consciousness for the first time:  “If my own mother won’t or can’t love me, who will?”  The inevitable answer to that rhetorical question is: “No one.”

This phenomenon is called “rejection” in the therapy trade, but a more appropriate label from the child’s standpoint would be “annihilation.”  The child feels that her validity as a person in her own right has been shattered; she may as well cease to exist.  Since she doesn’t really know how to stop contributing to her own despair, the whole problem is insolvable.  These “feelings” become the attitudes that Julia carries with her into adulthood, and these mistaken attitudes predispose her to behave in ways that are not appropriate to the reality situation.  In certain circumstances, these attitudes will come to the fore, they will “kick in,” and impel her to say and do things that will be inappropriate and counter productive.  They will make no sense to her partner.  She will think, feel and behave as if these attitudes were rational and valid.  She will not question them even after several re-enactments of the same scenario.  She will not learn from her negative, unhappy experiences.  In fact, each disaster will confirm that she is right:  she is unworthy to be loved.  By the time she grows up, Julia has a whole bunch of inappropriate, self defeating attitudes.

Not only does Julia have the attitude that she is unlovable, but to make things worse, she is convinced that there is no cure for her condition.  She is doomed, trapped, beyond salvation.  Her condition is terminal.  This aspect is a set up for despair, depression and anxiety.  The most malignant aspect of this constellation of feelings and attitudes is Julia’s anger at herself.  She does not blame her mother for “rejecting” her.  Like all daughters, her mother is “perfect” in her eyes.  The rejection must, therefore, be her fault!

As an adult, Julia continues to operate out of these attitudes from her childhood. She is deficient in some unknown way, and she is angry at herself for “making herself” so unworthy of being loved. She is a prisoner.  Her underlying conviction that she is unlovable predisposes her to behave in ways that will counter productively and self-destructively confirm the “truth” of her conviction.  In other words, if she feels unloved she will make others “unlove” her.  She works at it until she succeeds at failing.

Sad woman image available from Shutterstock.

 


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    Last reviewed: 22 Jul 2013

APA Reference
Karmin, A. (2013). Feeling Unlovable. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/anger/2013/07/feeling-unlovable/

 

 

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