Low self worth is a belief we have about ourselves and it is seeded in our hearts and mindsas we are grow up. It becomes the root of how we feel about ourselves today. First, we get positive or negative messages from our parents or authority figures that are most important to us. Did you know that parenting styles can have a huge impact on how you perceive yourself? And when I mention parent, I am speaking of anybody that spent anytime raising you. We know that our upbringing affects us but sometimes don't realize the impact it has on how we feel about ourselves and how we matter. For instance, if you had a parent that was overly protective, it would make you feel like you were inadequate. Parents who are overly critical will make you feel unacceptable and that you can’t do anything right. Ok, who had parents that were really passive, overly permissive? These are the parents that want to be your friend more than set boundaries, rules, and consequences for you. Do what you want as long as it makes you happy. Did you know that this kind of parenting will send messages that you are not valued? And how about the over controlling parent? Your young inner voice will interpret that you are incompetent which can make you feel that you are weak and insignificant. There are so many more details to parenting styles and how they affect children as they are growing that I can’t write it all here. I encourage you to do Google the type of parenting you received and read up on how it truly affected your thinking and beliefs about yourself.
Did you grow up with parents that had addictions of substance abuse, workaholics, an over spender, or compulsive behaviors? All of these situations would have made you feel that these things were more important than you. When you were born, you had the need to feel loved, that you mattered, and to feel secure and protected. When any or all of these aren’t met, you would develop negative self perceptions of yourself. The messages that your little heart would embrace would be that you had no value, you didn’t matter.
Abuse and neglect are so damaging to a child and can take years to overcome the emotional affects of it. But God is so faithful and has an unconditional love that surpasses our understanding and it gives such healing and acceptance like no man on this earth can ever give. "O Sovereign LORD!. You have made the heavens and earth by Your great power. Nothing is too hard for You!" (Jeremiah 32:17)
If you were indeed neglegted, emotionally, physically, or sexually abused by a parent or authority figure, you may adopt the beliefs that you are a nobody and/or deserving of the demeaning words you hear. You might feel like being mistreated is or verbally abused is just a part of your life and you have to take it. Maybe you even felt like it was your fault that these things were happening to you. “If I had only done this instead or said this.” Or maybe you asked, “What am I doing that makes them treat me this way? What can I do differently the next time?” Maybe you’ve thought, “Well, I deserved it. I should have (fill in the blank), then this wouldn’t have happened.” Do not ever take ownership of what somebody chose to do to you. I dealt with this for many years. “If I hadn’t have skipped school and hung out with so and so to play around with drugs, I would have never been raped.” The impact of that belief made a difficult life for me plagued with bad choices just to feel loved and not like damaged goods. I didn’t think things through but instead, had to have that instant gratification of acceptance and love.
My daughter is 25 years old, the mother of two, and was molested by her biological father at a young age. She became very fearful of him at age 3 which led to the discovery of the abuse. Being molested gives a sense of shame and a sense of no value. She doesn’t have custody of either child because of her destructive behaviors and dangerous choices that stems from the molestation. Her stepfather and I have been raising our granddaughter who is now 14 months old and have had full custody for over a year. Let me tell you, it has been a very painful road for my daughter as well as for us. She has been in and out of counseling for years but this last counselor was just amazing and very informative. Do you know how sad it was to come to the realization that our daughter was not even capable of making safe decisions for herself or her children? When the counselor told us that, my heart was heavy but it helped make sense of all that was happening. With work and help from the Lord, she could overcome this but she just runs from it when she makes any kind of progress. She acknowledges that she never adopted her own set of values and standards and because of that, she can’t say no when she needs to say no. She will adopt other people’s standards high or low for just a season, live by them while she is with that group at all cost to be accepted. And I do mean at ALL cost. If you or somebody you know lives destructively because of sexual abuse, I recommend a wonderful book that will help with understanding and healing. “The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse” Author Dan B. Allender. The book is under $10 at Amazon.com and is available as digital download.
I encourage you today to understand just how loved you are by our Heavenly Father. He accepts you just as you are and where you are. He tells us in Zephaniah 3:17 "The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will rejoice over you with loud singing."
Our self worth starts at home. It is not my purpose to blame parenting but to enlighten us to observe the type of parenting we had to better understand possible roots of low self worth. Were we abused in anyway, were we neglected because a substance, work, or an object or place seemed to be more important than us? Our sense of worth spills over into our adolescence and adult hood and negative self perception grows. Our negative self talk grows. We can compare ourselves to others because we don’t feel like we measure up. Your self worth is not based on how others see you. It is not based on how many people like you or is your friend on social networking. Nor is it how much you can do for others. It is based on the belief you have about yourself.
If you have negative beliefs, you can change them. If your parents/ authority figures were hard to please then say, “My value is not based on making others happy or how much I can please them.” For the overly protective parent/ authority figure, say, “My worth is not based on how well I protect myself.” If your parents/ authority figure were over controlling, they didn’t allow you to make many decisions. Say this, “My worth is not based making my own decisions.” Overly passive or permissive parenting do not set boundaries so say to yourself, “My worth is not based on if I can make boundaries for myself or not.” For any of these issues, you can change them. It is a behavior based on a belief you have, not your true value. Be encouraged that your past does not define who you are today or ever. If you change the belief, you can change your emotion attached to it, and then change any negative behaviors you want to change. If you are living and breathing today, you can start making a change today.
"Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy."