Feeling Unworthy? How to Find Your Way to Freedom


“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.”
~Rachel Naomi Remen

Note: This post was inspired by a TED talk by researcher Brene Brown called “The Power of Vulnerability.” Please watch it if your beliefs about your perceived failings, faults, and imperfections are holding you back. Isn’t now the time to end the suffering of unworthiness?

There is something that plagues so many of us, and it breaks my heart. Call it low self-esteem, shame, or the inner critic – it doesn’t matter what the name is. What matters is that we secretly feel unworthy, and we are afraid to take the risk to let others see us as we are. We harbor pernicious beliefs that bombard us with insults that we would never, in a million years, say to someone else.

The result? We feel disconnected, alienated, separate, and alone.

We live our lives in the proverbial closet, believing that if we let ourselves be seen, we would be summarily rejected.

Then, we close ourselves off, feeling lonely even when we’re surrounded by people. We numb ourselves from these painful feelings of unworthiness by eating and drinking too much, overspending, and staying insanely busy.

We get lost in a cycle of thinking and behaving that traps us into feeling even more isolated. We may even pretend that things are OK, while our soul screams in desperation.

Longing for Freedom

And all we want is to be happy. We want to be joyful and fulfilled, grateful and connected. We want to relax into our lives and put down all the effort it takes to keep ourselves safe.

I understand that your story is a sad one. You developed this mindset of unworthiness because you were rejected, abandoned, or mistreated. I am so sorry for the pain you have experienced.

But this is your life and your time. You can take responsibility for your feelings. You can learn to be compassionate toward yourself. You can be more open. And you can thrive – yes, you.

A Roadmap Out of Unworthiness

If you want to feel alive, if you want to unchain yourself from the cycle of not good enough, follow these breadcrumbs to freedom.

  • Don’t stay locked into the past. Somehow you have concluded that you are lacking because of how other people reacted toward you. If you let your mind run wild, it will keep repeating this story forever. Now is the time to let the past go. Every time these thoughts appear, don’t give them energy. Let them float by like clouds across the sky. Focus instead on the life-force that is present now.
  • Challenge your beliefs about yourself. Get to know your version of self-critical thoughts – I’m stupid, I can’t succeed, I will be laughed at, I’m unlovable. None of these thoughts holds a grain of truth. Not one iota. Recognize that they play in your mind as an endless loop that limits your capacity for happiness. They don’t serve you, so let them be and move on. Let your troublesome identities fall away.
  • End the violence. We reject ourselves and each other in so many gross and subtle ways. End the violence now by being kind toward your own thoughts and feelings. Treat yourself like gold. Find a generous space in your heart that is available to receive everything that arises in you without exception.
  • Be willing to be free. By now, your unworthiness is probably a friend of sorts. Imagine that this identity, this way of being you know so well, disappears. Poof! Things would look very different to you. Have the courage to step out into the unknown and be free of what holds you back.
  • Risk rejection. Yes, you read that correctly – risk rejection. If you don’t want to be trapped by unworthiness any longer, put yourself out there. Don’t act like the shrinking violet or the know-it-all. Be your whole, radiant, magnificent, awkward, scared, quirky self. Some people may shy away, but others will be drawn to your gorgeous authenticity. And you will know that they love you as you are.
  • Access your natural resilience. You have what it takes to heal this unworthiness. How do I know? Humans naturally gravitate toward wholeness and peace. Be willing to heal. Be willing to live in the totality of you – that means all of you. Create a momentum and keep it going.
  • Start small. Take one situation or encounter and approach it without the cloak of unworthiness. Do experiments. Stretch the edges of your comfort zone just a little. And don’t be discouraged. Keep at it – your happiness hangs in the balance.
  • Rinse and repeat. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said, “But I’ve done that, and I still feel the same way.” The goal is not to eliminate thoughts and feelings. Rather, bring a loving presence to them. See them, acknowledge them, then let them pass by while you stay stable in the fullness of your being. Do this every time they arise, and eventually they will soften. The pattern of unworthiness might have been with you for decades. Be patient. Give it time, and loving attention, and it will loosen its grip.

The opportunity is here, in this very moment, for happiness, peace, expansion, clarity, aliveness. There is no need to keep living in this secret hell. If you feel you are flawed and lacking, own it. Learn how to work intelligently with this experience. Ground yourself in the truth, and let the world see your shining face.

Feeling not good enough? Have you found your way through it? I’d love to hear…

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  1. says

    Gail these words are soooo powerful and these phrases stand out for me.

    Treat yourself like gold
    gorgeous authenticity
    secret hell

    I think everyone can relate to something you wrote here. It’s just what I needed for my aging process. I’m going to be 57 in March and I’m treating myself like gold!
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..10 Intimacy Boosters By Being Yourself =-.

  2. says

    “I’m stupid, I can’t succeed, I will be laughed out, I’m unlovable. None of these thoughts holds a grain of truth. Not one iota.”
    It is true that these statements are, strictly speaking, logically false for various reasons.
    For example, you don’t know for certain that you are going to be laughed at so the statement “I will be laughed at” is false, but I do think it is reasonably likely that you will be laughed at *some* day by *some* one, so saying this statement has not one iota of truth seems to be stretching it a bit.
    The belief “I will be laughed at” isn’t really the most effective belief to challenge in this case, because that belief does not in-and-of itself lead to an unfavorable self assessment, which is closer to the actual cause of distress. The unfavorable self assessment (or identification) comes from the belief that someone laughing at you represents some measure of your worth in some absolute sense, when in fact, what it more likely means is that the person laughing at you either believes their own status to be higher than yours or is trying to raise or reinforce their own status vis-a-vis you in some group.
    As a practical matter, there may be repercussions to you in having your status lowered. However, that is different from believing what the other person is saying which is, in effect, you are less than them.
    Taking it to another level, no one can actually laugh at you, because what they are laughing at, actually, isn’t you, it is an image that they associate with you in their own mind.
    Taking another example, “I’m stupid” is logically false. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime for a long explanation of this. However, it is reasonably likely that you are less intelligent than some other particular person or perhaps even less than average intelligence (and I don’t mean you in particular, Gail. I mean “you” in the sense of talking to someone who holds that belief). Where you actually fall on the intelligence scale might have practical or strategic implications in your life (e.g., you might reasonably give up on the notion of making a living as a physicist), but you do not need to diminish your own value in some sort of absolute sense, which is the underlying problem.
    What I am getting at is that there are practical uses for assessing what others think of you or what limitations you might have intellectually, physically, or otherwise, and these assessments are not really problematic in-and-of themselves. The problem occurs when we take these assessments to be some actual measure of our personal worth.
    Love your blog. I’m just picky about semantics.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Mr. LK,

      Thank you for the clarifications that you offer here. You nailed the crux of the problem at the end when you say, “The problem occurs when we take these assessments to be some actual measure of our personal worth.” When we believe these negative statements, no matter how they are intended, we suffer and limit ourselves.

      Part of the problem is that we hear these statements, or somehow these concepts are communicated to us, when we are young and do not yet have the capacity to consider the source. It is true, as you so clearly say, that “no one can actually laugh at you, because what they are laughing at, actually, isn’t you, it is an image that they associate with you in their own mind.” But it takes a sophisticated, developed mind to understand this, and for many of us these beliefs are well-entrenched before we are able to challenge them.

      But what you say is an essential part of finding freedom from unworthiness. What people say to us about ourselves is way more about them and their tendencies and feelings than they are truths about us. Which further invites the wisdom of always challenging our thinking.

      I welcome you being picky about semantics (and I’m happy you love my blog!). My intention always is to drill down to the absolute truth, so all can be revealed. Thanks for helping me with that.

      • Chip Cline xo says

        What other rational can we discover by reinforcing the truth of our worth as scientific and logical to our health as we see ourselves so vulnerable instead of being filled with a rational worth to ourselves? Thank you for your words and I am also inspired by rediscovering my worth through your words and the words of Robert Frost in his poems A Road Less Taken. It has made a difference! If I may, add my aesthetics to words in regards to self worth; There will always be war. It is your choice to believe a need for war or it’s appropriate rational. I choose to believe there will never be a war won on the worth of every human being, especially your own that gives you the ability to lift the forgotten or neglected worth of others. “Do no harm.” “Do not guilt yourselves to a belief of worthless totality of being human or present in your realness.” RCC.

  3. Clare says

    The Buddhists call this maitri – the practice of extending loving kindness and compassion toward oneself and others. When thoughts arise, I interupt them by whispering the word “maitri” in my mind. It isn’t repression, but renunciation of the thoughts, stopping the habituation and freeing myself of the attachment to right/wrong, good/bad. Thank you for this post. It is so relevant and important.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Clare, and a warm welcome to you.

      I appreciate you telling us about this beautiful practice of maitri. It is a way to lovingly derail the negative thought patterns and could be useful for people wanting to move through unworthiness.

      Thank you…

  4. Sonya Contino says

    I would just like to say thank you, i always feel released when i read your posts and i share them with my friends and family 🙂

    Keep it up, you are quite an inspiration to us all!


    • Gail Brenner says

      Welcome to you, Sonya. So glad to read your comment. I appreciate that you share these posts. If we all spread the word about healing and what is possible for all of us, it makes a difference.

      Love to you…

  5. says

    I hear what you are saying in this post and I like. But when I think of the cost of just being totally myself, I’m not so sure if it’s worth it. People I love could get hurt. I look at these people and think maybe I should be sensitive to their needs and feelings and beliefs. Realistically, it’s not all about me, I need to be the father, husband and friend they need and if that means sacrificing parts of Dan, then that’s the price I have to pay. Either way it’s going to cost me. Wow, I just need to wait for more clarity on this.
    Love and peace to you and your readers.

    • Gail Brenner says

      A warm welcome to you, Dan, and I appreciate your open and honest sharing.

      I read your comment and feel the depth of the dilemma you face. There are no easy answers. I am wondering, though, what would happen if you begin to let your “true self” be seen. Of course I don’t know the particulars of your situation and I may be off base, but maybe you are assuming that there would be certain unpleasant repercussions, when the truth is that you are not actually sure. Perhaps you can experiment with letting the people around you see a little more of you than they do at present and see what happens. Maybe you will be surprised.

      That said, I honor your sense of responsibility to the people who rely on you.

      These matters cannot be figured out in the mind. We need to take in all the information, look into our hearts, and simply take the next step.

      Wishing you well, and so much support, on your journey…

  6. Deb says

    This is a great post. A little over a year ago, when I first found your blog, I felt exactly as you describe in the first paragraphs. I wondered how I could ever not feel so alone, so unworthy.You are right, you just have to keep acknowledging your feelings and letting them go. I kept it up and one day I thought, hey, I don’t feel bad. I stepped out of my tight little box of unworthiness and insecurity, a little at a time, and it worked. Thanks for your thoughts and all you do for everyone.

    • Gail Brenner says


      You make my heart sing! You have gotten serious about your happiness, and now you are reaping the benefits. I want to emphasize what you said:

      “you just have to keep acknowledging your feelings and letting them go”
      “I kept it up”
      “I stepped out of my tight little box of unworthiness and insecurity, a little at a time, and it worked.”

      Thank you for inspiring us all by sharing your journey. Love to you…

  7. Stratos says

    this is a wonderful post that brings to all of us that feel unworthy, hope and strength to fight our negative thoughts. Regarding your paragraph:
    Don’t stay locked into the past. Somehow you have concluded that you are lacking because of how other people reacted toward you. If you let your mind run wild, it will keep repeating this story forever. Now is the time to let the past go. Every time these thoughts appear, don’t give them energy. Let them float by like clouds across the sky. Focus instead on the life-force that is present now.
    This is fine but I think if I follow this, I will fight the symptomps but not the cause. Even if I ignore my negative thoughs, the psychological trauma still remains. I can overcome my problem with my brain but not with my heart. So the best solution is to overcome the problem itself fully and not the symptoms.
    Please let me know of your point of view.
    Thank you very much.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Welcome to you, Stratos, and thank you for your comment and question.

      I completely agree that the best solution is to overcome the problem fully. And of course that includes the heart!

      Challenging negative thoughts and not giving them attention is just a part of the healing from psychological trauma. Learning to treat ourselves, and everyone else, with kindness and ultimately taking risks to feel, think, and behave differently are essential to the process as well.

      I am curious about your actual experience of what you are calling “psychological trauma.” It probably boils down to thoughts, memories, a story, and feelings experienced in the body. As these are lovingly welcomed in to be directly experienced, the power of the trauma begins to subside.

      Sometimes the story needs to be told. Not over and over like a broken record, but in a context where the pain can be felt, experienced, and ultimately released. This helps to gain a perspective on what happened that allows the trauma to begin to release its grip. For many people this recovery takes time, so patience is called for.

      What is most important is to keep working on the problem. It is our nature to be peaceful and happy. When our life circumstance have been challenging, this is easily forgotten, but always available to be rediscovered.

      Wishing you peace and happiness…

  8. says

    Hi Gail,
    Great article you have written. I am going out on the limb here and “risk rejection.”
    After reading some of your article I would like to invite you to be part of my ebook. Here is the link with the details.
    Hope you will consider this, if not I can handle the rejection. I will “Access my natural resilience”
    Anyway it would be an honor to have you part of this. Thanks and may you be blessed with happiness,
    .-= Debbie @ Happy Maker´s last blog ..How to find that Special Someone =-.

  9. says

    This post went right into my heart. My mother often talked about wanting to feel worthy. When she was dying, this is what she talked with her pastor about. I don’t know where her feelings of unworthiness came from. I’m not sure she knew either. But it plagued her her whole life. Nothing anyone could say or do seemed to help.

    This seems to be endemic in American culture. Is it rooted in Christianity? The Dalai Lama found the concept of self-hatred incomprehensible. I don’t know. But you are addressing a deeply ingrained issue for many people in our culture, especially women.

    I appreciated what Clare said about maitri. Pema Chodron has written a lot about being loving towards ourselves.

    I hope you will continue to write on this topic. I think it is so important.
    .-= Galen Pearl´s last blog ..Happiness Reminders =-.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Galen,

      The unworthiness that permeates so many people in our modern world breaks my heart. The root of the problem is that we have tricked ourselves into believing that we are lacking and insufficient. These are simply thought processes, but we take them on as identities.

      Heartfelt investigation is the key to freedom from them. And practices such as maitri, lovingkindness, gratitude, etc. can certainly be useful.

      I’m sorry for the challenge your mother experienced. I guess I would conclude that not everything is fixable and that people are ready for change in their own time.

      I agree, it’s important to keep these hard topics alive in our awareness, which lays the foundation for transformation.

      Thanks so much for your comment…

    • Gail Brenner says

      A warm welcome to you, Amanda. Yes, the truth is always shining, but sometimes the dark clouds are quite thick. As we take a look at them, and welcome ourselves little by little, the cracks in the armor appear. We’re always shining, we just don’t always realize it.

      So glad you stopped by and took the time to comment…

  10. says

    Hi Gail.

    It’s me the illustrious Armen back again with my thoughts on your current message that you have put out for the people of the Internets.

    I will watch that TED talk at a later time. I sure have liked TED talks I have seen. I don’t know why I don’t want them regularly. Sometimes I watch like 4 TED talks and sometimes I watch none for weeks. They are almost always mind-opening. I shall work on replacing some useless YouTube viewing with TED talk viewing.

    Regarding a feeling of unworthiness, I might absorb it at times, but I repel it back soon enough. I am supposed to be that guy doing those big things so I can’t let unworthiness take root in any form.

    A Flourishing Life continues to lead us readers toward a life of the type that we may describe using the term “flourishing”.
    .-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..4 Ways To Get Your Brain Into Action Mode =-.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi, oh illustrious one.

      I’m not big on watching internet videos, but this one is definitely worth it. So glad to hear that you are not absorbing unworthiness. Sounds like you are too occupied doing all those big things!

      May you flourish endlessly…

  11. says

    Gail: What great advice. I think this is definitely something many of us have experienced at one point or another. I particularly appreciated your advice to not get caught up with the past. I think this is definitely an easy trap to fall into and you are continually reflecting on things that happened that upset you. If we can just focus on the present moment and allow those thoughts to float through like clouds (I really loved that analogy you made by the way), we really can free ourselves from a lot of unnecessary pain. Great wisdom Gail. Thanks for sharing it.
    .-= Sibyl – alternaview´s last blog ..Why You Should Take Chances to Make Things Happen =-.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Sibyl,

      I love how the clarity of your understanding comes through your words. Thank you so much.

      It is so logical what you say about repeating stories in our minds. When we keep thinking about the sad things that happened to us, this is a recipe for feeling sad in the present moment. The Now offers so much more than these dead thoughts about things that are long over. If we open our awareness in all directions, we find that happiness is right here, peace is our nature.

      Sending love your way…

  12. maria says

    Hi Gail,

    I am not sure how to get rid of negative thoughts/feelings. If you could explain more about how to bring a loving presence and extend kindness to negative feelings, I would really appreciate it.


    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Maria,

      Thank you for your question.

      The goal is not to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings. As you have probably noticed, we don’t have control over this. What I suggest is that we develop a friendly relationship with them – not hating them and wanting them to disappear, but welcoming them in, being curious about what they are like, and letting them be. It is the end of resistance and the beginning of not being bothered by them. You can read more about this in the article, The Art and Craft of Befriending Your Experience.

      Feel free to let me know how it goes.

  13. says

    Wow, Gail! You’re post really got to me. I felt that your post was really getting to heart of my “internal critic”. One quote that stood out in you post and rang continually in my heart is “you can learn to be compassionate to yourself”. How is it that I am so quick to forgive the failures of others, but not for my own failures?

    Again, awesome post, Gail. This was a really touching message and I am taking a lot from the lesson that you are teaching.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Elmer,

      Thanks so much for visiting and for your comment.

      The exact antidote to unworthiness is being compassionate with ourselves. The essence of unworthiness is harsh, mean, and critical thoughts that we say to ourselves about ourselves. Just when those thoughts appear is the opportunity for self-compassion. This means seeing the thoughts but not feeding them, and bringing your attention home to the awareness that witnesses everything without judgment. This is where peace lies.

      Wishing you peace…

  14. Furaha says

    Thank you from my heart. I woke up with a strong feeling of un worthiness today, it has been with me for as long as I can remember. However, I just got tired of this feeling today, and I went on my knees Praying for freedom. Then I came across your post. Just amazing! These words rung true for me, ‘ there is no need to keep living in this secret hell. If you feel you are flawed and lacking, own it. Learn how to work intelligently with this experience.’ = Freedom!

    • Gail Brenner says

      So beautiful, Furaha. I love hearing your insights. We can wait forever or wish our problems would disappear. But only when we see them as they are and are willing to deal with them directly is true transformation possible.

      Oceans of support to you…

  15. says

    What a powerful affirmation of our innate worthiness and capacity for happiness and joy!!! It was inspiring and uplifting to read! And I liked the clear and helpful techniques on how to dismantle the road blocks that might get in the way. Thank-you Gail!

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Dede,

      A warm welcome to you!

      I so resonate with your words: “our innate worthiness and capacity for happiness and joy.” This is who we are, patiently waiting to be acknowledged.

      Thanks so much for stopping by…

  16. stephanie says

    I just came across your website after Googling ” feeling unworthy”! I suffer from bi-polar disorder and find it very difficult to believe in myself. My mother, who was my only friend growing up, my brother, who abused me and my ex-husband of 23 years all told me how stupid, fat, and worthless I was. I am a 51 year old woman who has raised four amazing children, helped her husband open and run a successful Chiropractic practice and ran three business on my own for 5 years. However, after my divorce, I began to suffer from severe depression and I lost everything. I feel as if I have no soul and I have lost the tremendous faith in God that used to permeate my life. My ex has financially devastated us to the point of living in the car with three of my children for 4 months. I have managed to get us through and the last one just started college, which he refuses to pay for. I am now on disability and more often than not, we can’t even afford toilet paper. We went from $300,000 a year to $24,000 a year for 3 people. I don’t miss the money but I miss being able to go to a movie or eat out with a friend. SSI only pays $674 and when the child support stops in three years I will not be able to support myself. I don’t tell you all of this to whine or complain. I just want you to know that I found hope on this page and although it is going to be a very long process, I am going to take it one small step at a time. Thank you for your lovely words.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Stephanie, and for sharing your story here.

      Even though some devastating events have happened to you, somehow I still hear a sort of strength coming through your words. Raising four amazing children and running three businesses on your own require intelligence persistence, patience, and commitment. Yes, things have been messy, but you are clear about your path – just the next small step.

      If I could say one thing it would be to see if you cannot define yourself by your stories. I hear the tragedy, but I also know that your true self has never stopped shining. It may be covered over by large clouds that have stayed around for a long time, but be very alert, and you may find signs of it everywhere. Live from that openness, and the confirmation of it will come to you.

      Lots of love to you…

  17. Jeannie says

    I went a little soul searching this morning while at work because I have been having for months now, probably years this overwhelming feeling of unworthiness. I mean deep to the core, like just the scum of the Earth bad. And not necessarily because of anything bad Ive done. Well I guess you could say its bad Ive done to myself. Turning to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain from losing my father back in May. Now I know that this is only a temporary fix and reality is always there, but for right now its just hard to deal. I could go on and on about things that also have affect on my life right now, but it would take a while. I had an ex landlord tell me a few months ago something that will stick with me forever. She is Catholic, and a very good woman. She said, “Honey, if we question God on how much or why he loves us, then we are in a way doubting him. His love is so vast! Remember God loves us even when we dont love ourselves.” I have often times asked myself, why on Earth would God love me? After all the times Ive doubted him, abandoned him, got mad at him, or just simply not served him… God still loves me no matter what. He loves me even when I dont love myself.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Jeannie,

      I so appreciate the truth-telling in your comment. I’m sure many people can identify with the depth of your feeling and your questioning.

      The resolution of the problem you describe is this: in the absolute truth of things, you are not separate from God. You can think of God, universal love, as the ocean with each of us as waves that form from the ocean. We seem separate and individual, but the ultimate reality of all people and all things is oneness. Relaxing away from this sense of the separate “me,” we return to the ocean, meaning that we recognize our true identity as love itself. From this perspective comes so much compassion for the suffering of the wave who has forgotten that she is actually ocean.

      May you relax away from your stories and emotions and discover endless oceans of love already here.

  18. Gary says

    I enjoyed your post but what impressed me most was that you took the time to read and respond, in a specific way, to each comment. Thank you.

  19. says

    i did my intial comment in my facebook but i couldn’t find it no issue ,the very important is these advices was a very useful for me becouse i find some tricks can clarify my way and allow me to make a graet success by an easy way without any suffer or issues

  20. Meenakshi says

    am very sensitive. everyone saying that am unworthy. i dont have such a mind to think. these words i hear mostly from my parents. my husband loves me more and now a days he used to say this word. he always calling me as mental loose… am feeling very bad anyone can help me out from this please

    • Gail Brenner says

      Welcome to you, Meenakshi. Your happiness lies in your hands. If you are feeling unworthy, you are listening to a story that is playing in your mind telling you that you are unworthy. This is simply a story, a string of words, that limits you and doesn’t serve your happiness and well being.

      Orient your whole life toward happiness. Be around supportive people and don’t pay attention to those who are not supportive. In each moment, follow what brings you joy. Your full, natural, magnificent life is in there. See if you can open up just a little to let it show. Live as if you are amazing, because you are. Don’t spend one more second wondering if you are unworthy. Instead, start living your fullest life right now.

      Sending so much love and support your way…

  21. Megan says


    I also came across this blog after Googling “the feeling of unworthiness”. I’m trying to write a paper on school about “Worthy of What? And to Who?” because when you think about it, we shouldn’t really be worthy of anyone but ourselves. For me, I have this feeling of unworthiness due to the fact that I allow others to make me feel inferior, and for that sole reason, my life has been full of ups and downs. But after talking about this subject with others as well as researching it more, I’m realizing that when an inevitable pain arises, we always point the blaming thumb inwards; we don’t give ourselves enough credit.

    Anyways, thank you for your amazing words. You are a wonderful writer and I’m blessed that I came across this article.


    • Gail Brenner says

      Hi Megan,

      I love to hear that you are researching unworthiness. When we live with the identity of unworthiness without investigating it, things continue without changing. But when you ask penetrating questions like “worthy of what” and “to who” you are beginning to break down this pattern that brings so much unhappiness to people’s lives.

      What about not blaming anyone when emotional pain arises and investigating that? Emotional pain is a story made of thoughts and physical sensations. If you let the story go, there is just the energy of the sensations. And what meaning does the energy have if we don’t give it any with the story?

      Let your emotions move through, even the most painful ones, by surrendering them to the space of awareness. Find the place within you that has never been touched by unworthiness, that is absolutely whole. Live there, then go forth and thrive.

      Much love and support to you…

  22. Lorrin Jacobs says

    Hi Gail, thank you for your article on unworthiness. My parents died when I was a child and I was brutally bullied for years by other boys, and even once a girl. I was painfully shy, and one day in 7th grade when kids were gathered atound my desk taunting me she came up, sat down in my lap, put her arm around my neck s nd out her face v lose to mine, saying hey baby. She then laughed in my face. I am now 58 and I have never been able to get over the pain I suffered. I was married, now divorced. I feel so terribly alone and worthless even now. The one positive thing to come from this is that I am a very compassionate and kind, caring person. I still live in hell though. I’ve had people tell me my problem is that my Christian faith isnt strong enough or that I should simply get over it. Believe me, I have tried. Unfortunately these feelings ruined my life. I’m deeply in love with a woman who is disabled, but she has been hurt and used by men so often she is afraid of loving again. She is a beautiful woman. I dont care about her physical scars and brain damage, nor her difficulty walking (she was hit by a car years ago). She is one of the few positive parts of my llfe. We go out 2-4 times per week. Anyway, I want to be emotionally whole for myself and for her, but I just don’t know how to get past nearly 50 years of living in hell.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Welcome to you, Lorrin, and thank you for your comment. There is so much support for you here on this site – in this article and many others in the archives. Be open to trying different ways to be with your experience. Be willing to experiment – to feel differently in your body and try out new behaviors.

      You – who you really are – is not wounded or broken. You are and always have been whole. Look beyond the story of brokenness and discover this wholeness. It is your true nature. Wishing you a beautiful journey…

  23. Tam says

    I realise it’s been a long time since you originally posted this article but I came across it during a search. I’m grateful to have found it.

    I’m currently in the position where I have been given a wonderful opportunity to develop a friendship with someone who I was able to practice authenticity and vulnerability with in a professional setting. Our professional relationship has ended and we have been meeting as friends for about two months.

    During this time I have found it extremely difficult to ask questions about her life and about herself. She brought this up last week and I felt horrible and so sorry that I may have made her feel uncared for or that I was disinterested. I was honest and confided that my fears and beliefs that are deep rooted from childhood (sexual abuse & trauma) have run the show and not allowed me to be present as I would have wished.

    The truth is I want to know everything about her. I just haven’t allowed myself to show up and admit that. I have now admitted it to her and have now got a second chance to build a friendship I so want to have.

    Do you have any other pointers on enabling myself to feel worthy and deserving of her friendship? Worthy and deserving of knowing her – instead of feeling like the nosy, disgusting little child that I often do feel like when wanting to know things about her? I have less problems with sharing my own stuff, and more problems allowing myself to own the fact that I care for her and want to know more about her. I’m not sure if that makes sense?

    • Gail Brenner says

      What a wonderful opportunity you have, Tam, to work through and free up some old patterns! Go slowly and begin to ask her things about herself. And if it helps, check in with her to see how it feels to her. Rather than feeling nosy, I suspect she’ll enjoy your genuine interest.

      Don’t let your feelings about yourself be your guide. Instead open up your view way beyond them to see what the situation is really calling for. See clearly instead of through the veils of your old, outdated conditioning,and be willing to have this conditioning fall away.

      • Tam says

        Thank you so much for your reply. 🙂

        I’m going to really try and show up and challenge my beliefs and the old stories telling me I’m not worthy of this friendship. I love and care for her deeply – and now I have to be willing to be vulnerable and show her that.

        We’re meeting this evening (UK time). I’ll keep your advice in mind and would be very grateful of any good, courageous vibes you could send my way!

  24. Charleen says

    To me, this is easy to say but much harder to do. I have to get myself to believe this without a shadow of a doubt, nothing wavering…

    • Gail Brenner says

      It takes time and patience, Charleen. If you investigate this experience of unworthiness when it arises, you’ll see through it – over and over. Each time chips away at the momentum of this pattern. Be unwavering in your commitment to peace….

    • Jane says

      I’m with you Charleen. I battle with this every day. My unworthy script runs continually. It’s so hard not to believe it. I wish with all my heart I could let it go. How do you “unbelieve”something that had been your truth for your whole life?

      • Gail Brenner says

        It is possible to unbelieve, Jane. Be committed to believing only what’s true. And this script is not an accurate representation of you. You are whole, capable, and the truth of you has never been touched by these scripts. They are only conditioned words running through your mind. Don’t take them as real, and begin to embrace yourself, standing in what’s actually true.

        There is much support on this site to return home to your truth and to let go of living this limited, false version of you.

        And I’m happy to support you…

  25. me says

    i’m sorry but you just list these things like they were so easy. Like letting go of everything you think you are is an easy task, like getting over a crippling lifelong depression consists of “thinking happy thoughts”.

    Maybe it’s not your intention but i feel like i’m so consumed by this i can’t let it go anymore. I don’t know how to. I don’t feel like it anymore I just wanna be done with everything but i don’t wanna hurt anyone else. I don’t know what to do, I’m on the verge of giving up everything. And nothing helps me, not medicine, not therapy, not self help, no exercise or diet helps. The only thing that saves me is numbing myself down with drugs and alcohol.

    I’ve reached a point where I’m not sure i wanna keep fighting. Nothing has been able to change my mind in all these years for more than a week.
    Maybe some of us are really born to give up and never amount to anything worthwhile.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Hello, Me. I know that lists of tools can feel trite, but if you take a look at each one in this post and apply it in your own experience with continuity, you are forming a new and healthy relationship with troubling thoughts and feelings. And if you need more guidance, this site is filled with articles that guide you through exactly how to find freedom when challenging thoughts and feelings grab you.

      If you are caught in a way of being that has been present for you for a long time, you probably aren’t going to see changes overnight. That’s why I included “rinse and repeat” in this post. When you first start to experiment with ways out of this suffering, you’ll maybe notice brief cracks of lightness and peace. But if you keep at it, eventually there’s a shift where the mind begins to let go of distorted, negative thoughts and you’ll see new options available. You need to continually step out of the deep groove of your conditioning to see that there are always new possibilities and ways of being.

      Your true nature is peace, ease, and wholeness – just like everyone else. That is who you are at the core of your being. But your mind is in charge and has control over your reality – and your mind will never give you a happy reality. I know there is a way out for you. Take it one moment at a time, because it’s only in this moment where peace is found.

  26. Noah says

    Thank you for sharing this understanding.

    I think most people that alreayd recognize their inferior behavior have done a great job. Because, not knowing that you behave in an inferior way, is what I think I may ‘ignorance’.

    I am in this stage now. 🙂
    If feels so unnatural when I see myself behaving in an inferior way in respect to other peopel(especially my friends). I can feel the bondage and the way it disconnects me and makes me unhappy. But I hope by being present and accepting this patterns, they will disolve (in time). Because resisting this state of being that I currently am, creates even more suffering.

    Thank you Gail.

    Kind regards from the Netherlands.

    • Gail Brenner says

      This is beautiful, Noah! You are an example showing that suffering is truly optional. You have recognized the ignorance of inferior thinking and behavior, and you’re seeing that it doesn’t define who you are.

      When we begin to wake up, we often become much more sensitive to thoughts, feelings, and behavior that comes from ignorance. We feel that bondage intensely. This is a gift, as when we feel this suffering, it invites the return to our true nature over and over.

      Every time you notice this pattern, realize it’s not true, and return your attention to presence. Then you can give up hoping the patterns will dissolve because you’re doing something about it by not resisting them anymore. In that moment of true acceptance of everything without attachment, you are in the state of I am.

  27. says

    Hello I love the article but it still doesn’t help me uncover why I feel unworthy. It’s a great article don’t get me wrong but trying to overcome this feeling of unworthiness has been the most difficult challenge for me yet. If I could understand why, I could clear it.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Sometimes knowing why can help, Johnny, and I hear that you feel that is the case for you. So you’ll need to look into your past experience to see what you discover.

      However, regardless of why you feel unworthy, you can still use the suggestions in this post to investigate the thoughts and feelings that arise in the moment to find your way through them.

  28. Alexis says

    Thank you so much for this article. I find myself backed in a corner quite a bit. It turns out that the antagonist is myself. I have been abandoned many times by those closest to me. My mom gave me up for adoption. My dad’s wife left us and refuses to even acknowledge my presence. My dad, who was already an alcoholic, took it out on me. I relied on my freinds and still do but I know more now. I watch their reactions, they are tired of me and my negative energy. I am scared that I will lose the only person I trust, my boyfreind. From all of this, I have found that I need to learn to love myself. How do i go about this process? I have had so many years of negativity, abuse from others and myself. I just recently graduated highschool, I am in my second semester of collefe. It seems that I have a lot on my plate. Sometimes, it is too much for me to handle. And knowing that I have no one makes it so much worst. I have been trying to motivate myself everyday to do my best. I don’t want to have a fixed mindset. I know that I need to heal but I have to make the commitment. I need to step away from all things associated with my depression and find myself. Seeing that you reply to everyone’s comment made me kind of jump for joy because I know that someone is listening.

    • Gail Brenner says

      Yes, I’m listening, Alexis, and I’m honoring you for your beautiful intention to heal.

      I hear you about learning to love yourself, so let’s talk about how to practically do that. It means befriending your in-the-moment experience. You recognize what feelings are arising in you, right now and in any moment, and you bring love, compassion, and understanding to them. It means seeing the distorted thoughts that bring negativity to your life, stepping your attention back from them, and not letting them rule your life.

      Loving yourself means having a loving and accepting relationship with your own experience in any moment. You breathe with what’s happening rather than avoiding it or denigrating it and letting it take you over.

      Then you’re in the position to align your choices with what you really want.

      It’s wonderful that you can trust your boyfriend, but you need more. Find the place in yourself that you can trust, which is the one who wrote this comment, the one who sees the challenging thoughts and feelings with caring objectivity. And don’t hesitate to see a counselor at your college to help you.

      Love to you…

  29. Debbie says

    I’m sorry, but the truth is I am unworthy. I dropped out of High School, had a baby at 17, have three failed marriages, no college degree, can’t really cook worth a dam, drink a little too much. I am a big lie. My friends know these things but I sugarcoat it all. I am sure they judge me behind my back. My current husband of 13 years loves me pretty much unconditionally but I don’t know why. I am so shut down and lonely but yet on the outside I look like a happy, giving, caring generous person …to everyone except myself. I can’t change my past failures I have to live with them, they’ve determined who I am. Now I’m so ashamed of me that “me” has dissapeared. If you met me you’d see a beautiful 51 YO woman who looks like she has her stuff together…couldn’t be further from the truth.

    • Gail Brenner says

      No need to apologize, Debbie. I understand that this is your reality.

      But here’s what I know. And before I say it, please know that I’m not trying to change you or even inspire you. I feel moved to say what I know to be true in response to your comment.

      Who you are is not defined by your thoughts, your life experiences, your feelings, or your choices. You started out as all of us do, as innocent, whole, and filled with infinite potential. This is your essence, your true nature – and not just yours, it’s true of all of us 6 billion beings inhabiting the earth. For many reasons – survival, challenging circumstances – your attention got stuck in your mind, and you’re using your thoughts (which includes thoughts about your past) to define who you are.

      This post is about finding your way to freedom, and you are not an exception. You might feel unworthy, but this is not who you truly are.

      Love to you…

  30. says

    This is so me….
    i tend to push people away the more i feel pushed away, i constantly feel that people are talking about me behind my back, i feel in the way so as a result of me feeling this way i withdraw myself further and further.

    • Gail Brenner says

      I understand the pain of this, Juanita. Maybe try little experiments. Look within to breathe and stay grounded within yourself. Then take a little risk to move forward rather than away. Keep showing up with a kind comment, a question that shows you’re interested and that you care. This is how to get started…


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