Feeling Worthless? Learn How To Improve Your Self-Esteem

Updated March 15, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

People can feel bad and feel discouraging thoughts about themselves for a variety of reasons. With some support, though, you can transform these old thoughts into new ones that feel productive and promote positivity. You may feel worthless right now, but with practice, you can recover and feel good about yourself. Seeking help from an online therapist is one effective way to guide you through the process. You don't have to go through this distress alone. 

No One Deserves To Feel Worthless

Causes Of Low Self-Esteem

Self-esteem issues can stem from several different sources and can vary from person to person. Here are some common reasons why you might be experiencing feelings of worthlessness right now:

  • Early interpersonal traumas, including abuse, maltreatment, or frequent criticism from parents or other family

  • Other forms of childhood trauma such as bullying, possibly continuing into adulthood

  • Adult situations like termination from a job, financial issues, or dealing with a divorce

  • Feeling like "the odd one out" at school, work, and/or other social situations

  • Stress and pressure to meet demands

  • Discrimination or being rejected in various capacities

This is not an exhaustive list. Thus, it is important to note that even though your symptoms might not be listed here, your self-esteem issues can still be treated effectively, regardless of the cause. 

Connection Between Thoughts And Feelings

Negative thoughts and thinking patterns can feel overpowering at times, and it might seem challenging to escape this negativity. However, they are also learned behaviors, which means that it is possible to undo these negative feelings and develop more positive thought patterns that uplift you. A lack of self-esteem is one of the most common reasons that people decide to seek professional help, and millions of individuals have successfully overcome these negative feelings.

One of the most popular techniques for fighting self-esteem issues is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of therapy identifies connections among emotions, thoughts, and behavior. It helps to develop the practical skills needed to manage the causes of negative or harmful patterns. The intended outcomes of CBT are increased feelings of positivity and self-worth.

For example, if you are thinking, "I don't have anything interesting to say," so you do not engage in social behavior or activities with friends, the first step in CBT is challenging this belief. Perhaps, you have had a negative life experience that caused it in the first place, and by understanding where your attitudes come from, you can address them and change them. If you are feeling inferior or are scared of social situations because you feel embarrassed or unlovable, it is possible to change these thought patterns. For instance, if this thought does come up, CBT might empower you to recognize it and combat it by affirming, "I am full of life experiences, and I have a unique point of view. My ideas and perspectives are valid and interesting".

How To Improve Self-Esteem

We all make mistakes and undergo stressful events. Rather than striving for perfection and comparing yourself to others, choose to focus on how unique you are and the role you play in the world. Do not be mistaken though; a little competition in life can be a great motivator for a lot of people. However, if you often find that you’re comparing yourself to others when it comes to what you should be striving for in your own life, you may be struggling with issues of self-acceptance. More often than not, when we are trying to "measure up" to something or someone, the measuring stick we are using is not realistic. When we compare ourselves to someone else, we often see what we want to see, or we see an ideal version of a real person.

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. Usually, if you are thinking "should" thoughts, they are not truly self-directed goals and values but instead have been given to you by someone else. This can create unnecessary stress and pressure on yourself when instead, you could be creating more productive thoughts and goals that align with your values.

Sometimes, feeling unappreciated can lower your self-esteem. Learn to communicate your feelings. Valuing yourself means valuing the inner compass that tells you what is important to you. Celebrate the things you are good at - even the small accomplishments. Try to avoid looking down on yourself; instead, talk positively about yourself as if you were talking to someone that you care deeply about. When you talk to others, you often value them above yourself, which means that you are less likely to say something to upset them. By talking to yourself the same way, you may be less likely to use thoughts or words that bring you down. Be realistic about your limits; if you are feeling overwhelmed, lower your expectations a little. Taking supportive actions for yourself is not failing; it is merely giving yourself a chance to be successful in the long run. When you have reached a goal, celebrate it. Always try to acknowledge compliments, and recognize that one thing you "should" do is treat yourself with care.

When Feeling Worthless Means Depression

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 can become a vicious cycle that often fosters greater depression. It is crucial to remember that depression is not a choice, or something an individual can easily ‘snap out of’. Depression, like all mood disorders, occurs as a result of many different factors. Genetics, brain differences, and negative events in one’s life can all contribute to the development of depression. 

For those who have had symptoms of depression for at least two weeks, it is recommended that you seek help from a professional, as it can be an indicator of clinical depression or a related condition. Your doctor can help you to clarify what you are experiencing and rule out any underlying medical conditions that can cause depressive symptoms. Finding professional help means considering treatments like medication, outpatient therapy, treatment facilities, or other kinds of treatment decided on by you and your team. Specialists, like those from BetterHelp, are available for convenient, online counseling. 

If you are thinking about suicide, considering harming yourself or others, feeling that any other person may be in any danger, or if you have any medical emergency, you must immediately call the emergency service number (1-800-273-8255 in the US and 0800-689-5652 in the UK) and notify the relevant authorities. Seek immediate in-person assistance.

No One Deserves To Feel Worthless

Finding A Therapist

Finding a therapist who will not only listen to you, but also give you the skills to cope and tackle the sources of your self-esteem issues may be crucial to your recovery. Still, individuals experiencing low self-esteem may find it particularly challenging to seek therapy in person. They may also have symptoms of depression like fatigue and lack of motivation that can make leaving the house difficult. 

Online therapy is an attractive option for many people because it can be accessed from home. It is also flexible with scheduling, and it can be more affordable than traditional, in-person sessions.

Researchers in the field of mental health has confirmed online therapy as an effective treatment option. One study suggests that internet-based interventions help reduce symptoms of depression and increase self-esteem. Study participants also reported an enhanced quality of life post-treatment. 

Counselor Reviews

"Collin has been very helpful in my first few weeks using BetterHelp. Sessions seem to fly by because I value everything she says and it has made me think about things I've never examined about myself. I recommend her completely to anyone seeking better ways to control their thoughts and reevaluate habits for better mental health. She's also extremely kind and cares about what she is doing".

"I have been in therapy numerous times throughout my life. I feel that working with Dan has been much more productive than even face-to-face therapy with PhDs or MDs. I can divulge very particular information and always feel safe and unjudged. When I get off track, he gently and kindly gets me back on track. He has gotten me through what is probably the biggest crisis in my life thus far. I would recommend Dan to anyone seeking help."


Using online self-help resources and working with a therapist, psychologist, counselor, or mental health specialist may help with finding effective ways to cope. Whether you have a mental illness or are unsure why you feel worthless, help is available. BetterHelp specializes in online therapy to help address all types of mental health concerns. If you’re interested in individual therapy, reach out today to get started.

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