Self-Esteem: Why Do I Feel Worthless?

By Julia Thomas

Updated December 10, 2018

Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault


Self-worth can change for many reasons especially if you're stuck with someone who is overly critical - it can sink rapidly. Wondering why you feel worthless isn't uncommon, and usually, it's because someone else has projected these feelings onto you. The problem with feelings of worthlessness is that they can cause bad treatment of yourself, as we often treat things we don't see as worthy poorly.

What is Self Worth?

Worthlessness is the strongest feeling that can lead to suicide in depressed patients. Many people who experience multiple setbacks in their lives like job loss, financial struggle, divorce, or being overweight can end up feeling like their lives have no meaning. At times, this can feel like there's no prospect of improvement and the more prolonged they are the more likely the patient will suffer from depression.


Self-worth is how much you value yourself, and it's tied with self-esteem because self-esteem is what we feel about ourselves. If you're not feeling that you have any self-worth, then, simply improving self-esteem isn't enough because you won't believe it inside. You need to improve both to get real results, and one way to do that is through therapy. Many of the same actions improve both self-worth and self-esteem because they're so closely tied together.

Things to Improve on Self-Esteem

We all make mistakes and concentrating on the big picture too much can make you feel quite small, especially when things don't go right. Rather than striving for perfection and comparing yourself to others, choose to focus on how good you are. Try to avoid "should" thinking. Telling yourself that you should be a certain way, achieve a certain goal, have certain things, etc. can set you up for failure. Celebrate the things you're good at - even the small accomplishments. Try to avoid looking down at yourself, instead, talk positively about yourself as if you were talking to someone else. When you talk to others, you often value them above yourself and don't want to upset them. By talking to yourself the same way, you'll be less likely to use thoughts or words that bring you down. Be realistic about things, if you're feeling overwhelmed, lower your expectations a little and when you've reached a goal celebrate it. This will mean you're more likely to achieve the goal and might even surpass it.

Actions for Improving Self-Worth

Value is about making yourself feel like you matter or that you make a difference. There are two ways to achieve this - by helping others and by valuing what you already know. Start by making a contribution to your community. Volunteering with people less fortunate than you are can show you how much you have to be thankful for. By being thankful, you'll also be able to see what aspects of your day are important. Try to pick five things each day that you're thankful for.


Anytime you feel you're talking negatively about yourself, stop, pause, and think about what you would say if you were talking to someone else instead. It's likely you wouldn't be as critical.

Why Do I feel Worthless When Nothing Helps

Seek help. Often, feelings of worthlessness can be a symptom of depression. Many depressive disorders leave patients feeling alone, unworthy of social interaction, and unworthy of help. The trouble is, this is a vicious circle and those feelings often foster greater depression. In cases like this, you'll need to see a professional. Finding professional help means considering treatments like medication, therapy, and even in-patient treatment if the case is severe enough. Specialists like those from Better Help are available to determine if whatever is causing your issues are from depression, or a specific traumatic event. They can formulate a coping plan so that you don't have to feel this way.

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