“In relationships…I rarely feel worthy of love or worthy of anyone’s attention, and so I feel like I’m always taking up people’s time that is better spent elsewhere, or that I am not entertaining enough, or that a relationship with me doesn’t have enough positives.”
Does this sound familiar? Do you feel unworthy, too?
Do you feel like people are doing you some kind of favor by being in your life? Do you feel like you don’t deserve it? At all?
The above powerful lines come from Kate Allan’s beautiful, encouraging, compassionate book You Can Do All Things: Drawings, Affirmations and Mindfulness to Help With Anxiety and Depression. It’s filled with honest insights about everything from feeling anxious to feeling hopeless to feeling absolutely awful. It features Allan’s uplifting illustrations and messages.
So many of us feel like we are an inconvenience to others (or even a burden).
We feel like we have to earn a place in a person’s life by doing things for them, by going above and beyond (and maybe bulldozing over our own needs), by being someone we’re not.
We feel like we’re bothering someone when we ask for help.
We hesitate to express a different opinion, even if it’s just wanting to eat at a different restaurant.
We apologize 10-too-many times for seemingly insignificant things.
We feel like we have to buy people expensive presents (another way to earn their love and to justify our presence).
We feel like we always have to be “on,” always going out of our way to be the “perfect,” funny, available, kind, self-deprecating, selfless friend.
Maybe we even feel like we can’t fall apart with someone close to us. We feel like we can’t allow someone to see the real us, vulnerable and sensitive and messy and unsure.
We feel like we take up too much space, and we strive, consciously or subconsciously, to shrink.
So many of us have been there, and are there right now. We think we have to earn others’ love by being silent and agreeable, by being a comedian or a circus clown, by buying extravagant gifts they’ll like, by doing all kinds of things that say, please love me, please see me, please think I’m worthy of your time. Even though we don’t inherently think we are.
There may be many reasons why we don’t, and it’s helpful to examine them. Maybe with a journal. Maybe with a therapist. Explore when you started feeling unworthy and inadequate in relationships. Explore what you specifically do in relationships because you feel this way. Over-apologize? Bend over backwards? Ignore your own needs? Do things you don’t want to? Push past your limits and boundaries? Not show the true you?
And keep digging.
In You Can Do All Things, Allan, creator of The Latest Kate, includes what has been helpful for her in dealing with her feelings of inadequacy, which might be helpful for you, too:
“Choosing to be my authentic self; not reshaping myself to fit someone else’s standard, whether that’s my physical appearance or behavior.
Only embracing relationships where I am respected and accepted for who I am.
Being honest with myself and my loved ones about my insecurities and challenges; owning it.
Showing the kindness and understanding to myself that I would show a friend.
Reframing; looking at past events and choices with understanding and compassion and without judgement.”
You are worthy, and you deserve relationships that are built on respect and kindness, relationships that also nourish you and add to your life.
But I know you might not see that or feel it right now.
Know that this can and will change. The key is to consider and explore what can help you to get there, to see and feel your inherent worth. Working through Allan’s wise suggestions is a great place to start.