Yesterday, I wrote about the urge to please other people and how taking a possibly confrontational position towards them makes me fear punishment and getting abandoned. I wanted to take up this thought again, because that’s not the full scope of my realizations yet: in addition, my sense of self-worth is dependent on the approval through other people. Especially people I am close to or people I experience as my superiors, but not exclusively.
It explains so much about me: why I tend to avoid confrontations, why I have a hard time recovering from setbacks, why I think that my results always have to be perfect. The most insignificant short-coming can destroy the very foundations on which I build my sense of self-worth.
Back during the earlier days of the friendship with the man who would later become my boyfriend, I secretly feared that his interest in me would cool off as soon as he figured out what a boring, bland person I really am. I didn’t think I had anything to offer to anyone that was of any interest whatsoever. Every other person appeared to be so much more colourful, intelligent, beautiful, and fun to be with.
I rely on feedback from others to feel more or less good about myself, with negative feedback instantly eclipsing any positive reassurances. Even when I try to think rationally about it and list points that others might possibly regard as good qualities in me, I am very likely to invalidate all those points if confronted by a negative response to something I said or did. The deeper the depression, the less innate self-worth I have.
For example, during my most recent relapse, I had started feeling that I didn’t deserve to be in therapy, that I was just wasting both financial and human resources, stole my therapist’s time and was taking up someone else’s place. It got so bad that I felt like I had to punish myself for being in therapy; I spoke to my boyfriend about it and he kept me from going over the edge by reminding me how absurd these thoughts really were. I didn’t act on any of the negative impulses because somehow, the intellectual part of me still managed to be heard, even if I didn’t believe it anymore: I knew that there would come a time when I would regret anything I did that endangered my health or physical well-being or social contacts. Or compromise my therapy, because strangely enough I did not entertain any ideas of giving it up, despite feeling guilty and undeserving.
Now that the relapse is over, I can argue rationally again. My therapist is a busy man – if he thought I would not qualify for treatment, he would hardly see me. I have not taken away anyone else’s therapy place. Helping other people is why the hospital exists and why all the people working there get paid; that includes helping me.
3 thoughts on “I’m Not Worthy”
“It explains so much about me: why I tend to avoid confrontations, why I have a hard time recovering from setbacks, why I think that my results always have to be perfect. The most insignificant short-coming can destroy the very foundations on which I build my sense of self-worth.”
This describes me perfectly. I depend so much on others’ feedback as well, and the anything remotely negative, real or imagined, can be disastrous. I’m glad you’re feeling better and can think rationally again. You deserve to be in therapy, even if things aren’t going so well. The only thing you owe anybody, especially yourself, is to just keep showing up.
Thank you. I didn’t tell my therapist about the guilt yet, but only because we already had so much to discuss during the last session that it wasn’t my top priority. We are not through with the topic yet…
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