You’re having one of those days or weeks. Nothing seems to be working, your motivation is all gone, and you’re daydreaming about quitting. Your confidence is running empty and you’re feeling worthless.
Breathe, because we’ve all been there. Furthermore, I want to remind you that a high growth lifestyle comes with vulnerable emotions. You feeling this way does not say anything about your character or capability.
A study by Harvard Business Review surveyed CEOs at the top of their game and revealed that most have felt imposter syndrome—questioning their abilities and worth—over the last year.
With that in mind, remember that you are not alone.
However, the longer you stay in a state of feeling worthless, the more clarity and momentum you start to lose. Because while feeling this way is normal, staying there becomes a choice.
In this article, you’re going to learn 11 things to remember and practical steps to help you come out the other side with more resolve and clarity, not less. Let’s dive in.
1. High Growth Equals High Vulnerability
You wouldn’t be reading this article if you weren’t someone committed to their personal and professional growth. And let’s be clear here—a high growth life requires dealing with messy emotions.
Well, for starters, you’re leaving your comfort zone. You’re working on yourself. You’re no longer a “talker” but someone who is actually doing it. It’s important to remember what you’re going through now is a natural part of growth.
2. You’re Exactly Where You Need to Be
One of the biggest misconceptions in psychology is that you should feel bad if you’re feeling bad. There couldn’t be anything further from the truth; ”negative” emotions are as healthy as positive ones. It is our reaction to negative emotions that can cause harm. But the emotion alone is a healthy and normal part of life.
Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University who wrote the book The Upside Of Your Dark Side expands:
“There is a not so hidden prejudice against negative states, and the consequence of avoiding these states is that you inadvertently stunt your growth, maturity, adventure, and meaning and purpose in life.”
This means that feeling worthless can be a catalyst to growth, not a roadblock.
3. Zoom Out to Step Away From the Trenches
Often, we can be in a momentary valley—the place where we feel worthless and wonder what it’s all for. In this place, we can’t see clearly and quitting seems like a great idea.
Bestselling author and marketing guru Seth Godin calls this the “dip,” and Scott Belsky of Adobe calls this the messy middle. However we choose to name it, I want you to remember that growth is never linear.
A breakthrough leads to a plateau, leading to a breakdown and vice versa. There are ups and downs and last-second challenges we never expected.
This is when you must zoom out of your current valley. Expand your time horizons, and recognize how far you’ve come during the last six months or three years. This reminds you that you have grown, and it provides some much-needed perspective.
4. This Feeling Is Temporary
Feeling worthless usually comes with an emotional storm that can leave us disoriented, lacking confidence, and not wanting to do much of anything. But remember: emotions are like the weather: scattered, random, unpredictable.
Sure, the weather can be intense—a random thunderstorm with howling winds, but the next day, the sun comes back out and everything is peaceful and normal again.
Your emotions work this way, too. Remember that your current state is temporary. In fact, brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor argues that any emotion lasts much shorter than we believe. According to Taylor, the chemical process of emotion only lasts 90 seconds.
What does this mean to you?
You will feel better. You will feel worthy, motivated, and excited about life again. The acceptance of this state, instead of resistance, leads to a sense of peace.
5. The World’s Most Successful Feel This Way Too
The role models, mentors, and people you look up to have felt exactly what you’re feeling right now. It can be easy to put others on pedestals due to their accomplishments. Surely, they never feel worthless, right?
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone in this world—especially those who are growing—feels this way. Regardless of their social media highlight reels and online personas, they struggle like you do.
Some of the most successful people on the planet feel worthless at times. A recent documentary, The Weight Of Gold, featured stories of Olympic athletes such as Michael Phelps, Bode Miller, and others who felt depressed for months after the Olympics.
Think about that—these are the highest achievers on the world stage who have hundreds of millions of eyes of admiration and respect on them. And they, too, struggle with feeling worthless.
6. There’s So Much That Is Working
Being in a vulnerable state can shift our awareness to stack all the ways life isn’t working for us. We think of the people who betrayed our trust. We think back to being fired after giving time and energy to an organization. We overanalyze a comment on social media and obsess over how our goals aren’t happening fast enough.
Remember, you woke up today—50,000 people didn’t. Your heart’s still beating to the tune of 2,000 gallons per day. You likely have access to shelter and clean water. This is a simple perspective shift that allows us to lower the bar on gratitude and remember what is working.
7. Contrast Creates Perspective
We live in a culture that emphasizes 24/7 positivity. We must present our best selves—we must find the ‘silver lining’ in every circumstance. And while these are great aspirations, they’re not real life.
Enter contrast in life—the experience of something different. Hard moments, unsettling emotions, and experiencing conflict in our lives all lead to a newfound perspective we wouldn’t have otherwise had access to.
With “contrast,” we ask better questions. We seek better answers. We ask for help, creating a deeper connection. We become empathetic to others’ struggles. We may even get an idea for a change in our lives that could only be accessed in the contrast.
With that said, stay curious. When we are curious about our emotions and what we’re going through, we are compassionate instead of judgmental. We stay open to new insights instead of labeling ourselves. All of these lead to healing.
8. Dig Into the Truth About You
Years ago, I started keeping a digital file that someone advised me to call “the truth about you.” It is a simple document where I keep screenshots, emails, comments on compliments, and reminders from those I respect.
We all have a folder in our minds where we can remember the truth about ourselves—the places we showed up and followed through. The accomplishment someone else is amazed by. The consistency we showed when it was easier to quit. You may not have this folder available, however, I highly recommend you start building it.
But even without it, remind yourself of the truth. To do so, you’ll have to transcend your current circumstances and emotional state and dig deeper.
9. This Is Why You Do the Work
If you’re reading this article, you’re interested in maximizing your potential and living a productive, fulfilling life. This means you have a toolkit at your disposal—practices, routines, and actions that are designed exactly for what you’re going through right now.
Remember that the tough times are the best times to use these tools, whether meditation, time in nature, doing some journaling, or going for a long walk—don’t forget the power of these tools.
Recognize that most people don’t do this work. They’d rather give their time, energy, and attention to distraction or entertainment. But you’re here, and this is when the “work” really pays off.
10. Emotional Agility Is a Superpower
Because negative emotions don’t feel good—like feeling worthless and lost—it’s easy to distract and avoid them. It’s easy to binge-watch Netflix, spend hours on social media, or even drink and eat our way out of the issue.
Harvard psychologist Susan David talks about the need for emotional agility, which is a skill that can be trained, defined as:
“An individual’s ability to experience their thoughts and emotions and events in a way that doesn’t drive them in negative ways, but instead encourages them to reveal the best of themselves.”
Consider what you’re feeling now as an opportunity to practice this skill.
11. Breathe, Play, Lighten Up, Help Others
When you’re emotionally contracted, you also tend to be physically tense. Body language tends to be less open, shoulder slump forward. It’s easy to tighten up and even enter fight or flight.
We often forget we possess the number one tool to release overwhelm and get back to the center—our breath. By engaging in a breathing practice—taking some much-needed deep inhales or box breathing—you can manufacture a state of clarity and peace.
Another tool when you’re feeling worthless is to help someone else. It sounds crazy, right? We must focus on ourselves. We must fix the issue and do so now.
Oddly enough, by taking the focus off ourselves, we find healing. It doesn’t have to be anything grand—but encouraging an old friend, a random act of kindness, or dropping off snacks for a person on the street pays dividends.
All of these can create what psychologists call the “giver’s high,” and shift your perspective.
What if Feeling Worthless Led to Your Next Growth Cycle?
There is nothing wrong with the way you feel. Judging our emotions is like running into the rainstorm with anger and demanding the sun come out—in other words, a total waste of energy.
Instead, use this time wisely. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it seems far away. Often, it is much closer than you think. Use these reminders and practical ways to shift perspective to create some much-needed breathing room.
Be kind to yourself. Minimize the chatter of the inner critic. Unplug from the negativity and chaos of the world and make small steps in the right direction. As you do, celebrate tiny progress along the way while remembering you are worthy and you have plenty of proof to show yourself that.
As time passes, you’ll wake up and back in a thriving state. You’ll wonder what took you so long to get over this feeling and be equipped with a new perspective and empathy