I recently asked my sisters and some girlfriends: How do you devalue yourself? And if you think about it, how do you do it without realizing it? These girls had so much wisdom. At the end of the day, I think we realize what we’re doing, but in the moment we don’t realize we’re doing it. And I wonder if you experience the same. Here’s a couple statements that I heard from these women:
Im not worth helping/that people have better things to do than help me.
I don’t even know what I like anymore.
I reject myself before someone can reject me.
I don’t try because I’m afraid I’ll get shot down.
Do any of these resonate with you? When I was reading the responses, I seriously was like Y E S with every single one. And the interesting thing to me was that we all do it. And yet, we all feel like the only one at the back of the room, when we are all literally standing back there.
And for me, when another woman is talking down on herself or devaluing herself, I am her biggest cheerleader! I am cheering her on, I am telling her she is wonderful, and I am trying to speak truth to her. I’m trying to be louder than those shame messages. Louder than what she believes about herself.
And its so interesting because we probably all do this for others. Champion them. Build them up. And yet, we don’t accept it for ourselves. We don’t believe the same for ourselves. And we feel so alone and isolated in this feeling, when we have some dear sisters struggling alongside us, but we have blinders of shame on that don’t let us see this. That don’t let us believe that others are there too.
So what are some of the common ways we devalue ourselves? What did I find? Here are 5 ways (and there are probably so many more) that we underrate ourselves without even realizing it.
1. We say sorry.
Have you ever called customer service and apologized over and over for your call? For whatever you’re needing help with? When their service or product is malfunctioning and its their fault and yet you keep saying sorry?? I. Do. This. All. The. Time. Why do we do it? A friend of mine told me that just the same morning that I asked the question, she apologized to the barista at the coffee shop for asking them to remake a drink that they made incorrectly. I think that we apologize for things that we don’t need to because we feel like we’re too much.
We’re asking too much. Expecting too much. Making too much trouble. Taking up too much space.
How do we combat this? I think it starts with believing that we deserve to take up the space that we occupy. We deserve to have. That we’re not a nuisance. And this, really all 5 of these, requires us to dig deep and understand where we learned that we needed to apologize for our space.
2. We dismiss apologies.
Following on the “sorry” train, what happens when someone apologizes to you? I can tell you what I say!
Anyone else? I get this response. We want to reassure the person that it really is okay. That we accept their apology and that we don’t hold it over them. But using this kind of response sort of dismisses the apology and dismisses our own need for someone to acknowledge a wrong. We not only dismiss the person but we also dismiss ourselves!
It doesn’t have to be heavy or a really wordy response. Simply acknowledging the apology and then moving on (if the situation is appropriate for this kind of response) can be all it takes to allow yourself to receive it.
3. We don’t ask for what we want.
Ooooh, this is a big one. When my husband and I recently moved to Washington, I decided that with this fresh start, I was going to set some intentions for myself in this new season I was being given. I was going to be more intentional about introducing myself to new people (I am a B I G introvert. ha!), I was going to dig deeper into my passions and the things that I liked (going for walks, writing, self-care, reading, working as a therapist, etc.), and I was going to try asking for what I want.
One of the women who responded said that in her business she negotiates her fees lower or downplays her offerings because she sort of rejects herself before she’s rejected. Ouch! This is hitting close to home. I also heard a lot of “I don’t go for promotions because I’m afraid I’ll not get it, so why try for it?”
But much like apologizing for taking up space, we don’t ask for what we want because deep down we don’t believe that we deserve it. We don’t believe that we’re worthy of people’s help. This can easily come from messages received as we grew up. To not have high expectations. We’re told that we’re not good enough. That asking for help is weak or a waste of someone’s time.
We have to come to a place where we value ourselves enough to believe that we’re worthy of having what we want.
4. We assume people don’t want us.
Whether this comes by accident or intention, somehow we come to believe that people don’t want us around. “People don’t value what I have to say.” This one is really significantly tied to our previous experiences. So I’m going to get vulnerable here…I worry and fear that people are just humoring me when I’m around. That they don’t truly want to be my friend or invite me over but they do because they’re just pretending so that I’ll leave them alone. Be nice to the needy girl and she’ll go away.
Jeez. I’m embarrassed even typing that. This comes from a lifetime of worrying what other people are thinking. Not trusting their motives. Believing that they’re hiding something. And from the answers I received, this is a common way we devalue ourselves.
Its tough to root this out because this can be deeply embedded in how we view ourselves and the world (which is a direct result of our attachment style, but that’s a different post!). But there is hope!! If we can learn to be okay and learn to trust the world just even a little bit more, this will make a huge difference with this struggle.
5. We let things that matter go.
A friend of mine said that she doesn’t know what she likes anymore because she’s always saying, “Whatever you want is fine.” So this last way we devalue ourselves is letting things that matter go. This looks like not speaking up in the little things, like where to go to eat, what to watch on television, what temperature to set the house, etc. In the big things, this can look like going to bed angry, holding on to wrongs or not confronting someone who has hurt you, etc. We just deal. Hmmm, seeing a pattern here. Devalue is looking a lot like feeling unworthy or not mattering.
I had a supervisor who asked the question, “What would it be like to matter?” quite a lot. It hints at those deep places where we just want to be seen. And when we let the little or big things go, we stop believing we matter. We stop thinking that people care. We let go of the fact that we are worthy to take up space on this earth and have desires, wants, opinions, and boundaries.
So now what?
Well, you deserve to be seen. To be heard. To matter! There is a lot that can be processed there, but something simple that you could do right now is consider as you think about these 5 things, what comes up as something you might need? How can you get that? It may seem simple, but it can tell you so much!
Tell me, have you experienced any of these? What did I miss? Tell me in the comments below!