You’re bound to feel worthless after your breakup. However, whether or not you stay stuck feeling like that forever varies from person to person.
Here’s what happens to most people: a simple notion that they’re inherently unworthy begins to loom over them for so long that it turns into perpetual feelings. Then those feelings turn into limiting thoughts, and then those limiting thoughts turn into limiting beliefs that help them make sense of what they’re experiencing.
In other words: “I may be unworthy” turns into “I feel unworthy,” which turns into “I think I’m actually unworthy,” which turns into “Shit, I am unworthy.”
A Belief Primer
Beliefs are nothing more than thoughts we have confidence in that evolved from negative or positive experiences. They’re our perceptions about what we feel is right and wrong, true or false. They keep us stuck or help us progress. They shape our reality. They dictate our behaviors and guide our future decisions. Yet, they’re not facts, even if they sometimes feel as such.
A belief can be complex as faith in God or as simple as believing pineapple goes well on pizza. Everyone develops them, and even if you think you don’t have any, that’s still a belief — a meta belief or a belief about beliefs, to be exact.
However, more relevant to this article, another form of beliefs are limiting beliefs — a.k.a., the beliefs that hold you back from living a good and virtuous life. An obvious example I’ll cover in this article is, “I’m unworthy/less worthy than my ex/not good enough.”
How Limiting Beliefs Screw You Over
People will always act in alignment with their beliefs. In other words, your behaviors will always automatically reflect the beliefs you foster about yourself.
If you believe you’re secure and confident, you’re going to walk taller, talk with more potency, make clearer decisions, and consequentially, be more attractive and have an easier time attracting new love or rekindling the old.
But if you believe you’re unworthy, you’re going to be less sure of yourself, rely more on performance rather than authenticity, and more frequently display unattractive behaviors (i.e., white-knighting, pleasing, avoidance of intimacy and connection, etc.). As a result, you’ll be perceived as less attractive and have a harder time attracting new love or rekindling the old.
The Creation And Amplification Of A Limiting Belief
Let’s say that you’ve just got dumped. Now you feel more useless than a liberal arts degree. Three months go by since you’ve started looking for a new partner, someone who would care. And just when you felt like quitting, you found someone you connected with.
Now let’s say that this person has the same mindset as you: they too feels like they’re unworthy — they shares the same trauma as you. And, since you’re desperate for connection, you rationalize that their trauma is actually a sign of compatibility. So you commit to one another.
As you’d expect, the relationship is toxic — a drama-induced emotional roller coaster. One week you’re all over each other; the next, you’re throwing plates and spitting profanity at each other.
After months of simmering in the same shit-stew, you finally break up. The good news: you got out of a toxic relationship. The bad news: the fact that you got into another breakup only solidified your belief that you’re actually a failure at love, hence unworthy of it.
So you begin to sabotage your love life even more. You get so desperate that you even resort to chasing old ex’s. Like for most people, the venture didn’t work out.
The more rejection and heartbreak you face, the more you’re “I’m unworthy” belief hardened. And the further it hardened, the more you started sabotaging your love life.
How To Overcome Limiting Beliefs
As you know by now, perpetual feelings of worthlessness are just limiting beliefs in disguise. Therefore, the way you overcome them is identical to how you’d overcome any limiting belief.
That being said, worth-based limiting beliefs targeted toward ourselves are the hardest to challenge and overcome. Mainly because they’re laden with insecurities, anxieties, and other emotional baggage that we have to untangle before ever being able to deal with the beliefs themselves.
Below I’ve outlined four steps that will help you get started with this process. They may sound simple on the surface but are a whole other beast under the hood. So be prepared to put a lot of work into changing them. Don’t get me wrong: it is possible. But it is a grueling and slow process.
1. Consider If Your Limiting Belief Serves You
To find this out, ask yourself:
- What good am I getting from this belief?
- Is this piece of information holding me back from achieving my goals or not?
- Is it pushing me forward or backward?
- Is it hindering my recovery or speeding it up?
- Is it improving my relationships, or is it sabotaging them?
By asking these questions, you’re not labeling your limiting belief as true or false but simply exploring if the overall idea of them serves you. With this understanding, you now have a good reason to dislodge and replace them with an empowering and realistic one.
2. List the Consequences of Your Limiting Belief
Think about all the ways how you can sabotage your life if you keep believing what you’re believing:
- If I keep believing I’m unworthy of love, I will never find it, and if I do, I will screw the relationship up somehow because I will be chockful of insecurities and emotional issues.
- If I keep believing that I’m incapable of attracting a healthy relationship, I won’t even try going out and meeting someone new.
- If I keep believing that I’m fat and unhealthy whale, I won’t have to ever change my diet, start to exercise, and endure the pain that comes with those things.
As a fun side note, ever wondered why we hold onto our limiting beliefs even after we determined they’re harmful? Well, two reasons:
To avoid dealing with additional life challenges. For example: I believe I’m an unlovable piece of shit so I can protect myself from the hundreds of painful rejections I would have to endure to meet someone who would actually love me.
To protect ourselves from the pain of failure. For example: I believe I’m unworthy so I can say I deserve special treatment and feel like I’m super duper special.
3. Question The Validity Of Your Limiting Belief
After you’ve grasped all the ways your limiting beliefs keep screwing you over, it’s time to find out if it’s actually true. To get to the bottom of this, you need to ask yourself even more questions.
Here’s a couple of effective ones:
- When did I first begin believing that I was worthless?
- Can I prove to myself that I’m inadequate?
- What If I’m wrong about considering myself as unlovable?
- What if I’m wrong about everything about myself?
While asking yourself these things, carefully consider your childhood events and your response to your breakup, for that’s the source of most limiting worth-based beliefs.
It may even help if you write your answers/findings down on a piece of paper. For some reason, this is more effective than just thinking about them. And whenever you find a vague or cloudy reference, be sure to analyze it from all angles and realistically determine if it’s true or not.
(Hint: it’s usually not)
4. Dislodge And Replace The Limiting Belief
To dislodge a limiting belief, you need to conclude that it’s harmful and false and decide to drop it. Then you need to keep deciding not to take it back. Obviously, this is easier said than done.
We often need to put strenuous effort into changing our beliefs because they feel, especially those we cultivated early on, as a part of our identity. In fact, one could argue, they very well are a part of our identity.
Now, when it comes to adopting a new belief to fill in the hole where the old used to sit, the most important thing to do is collect evidence to support it.
Understand that your new belief is frail at the start. This is because you have little to no evidence proving it’s legit. Therefore, you need to start accumulating as many pieces of evidence that will prove to your brain that this new belief you’ve adopted is legitimate.
The more references you acquire for your new belief, the stronger it will become. Eventually, it may even become your new reality.
A Word of Warning: Like it’s toxic to think of yourself as worthless, it’s also toxic to think of yourself as better than others. Don’t delude yourself that you’re some undiscovered prodigy, that you have some special talent, or that you’ll change the world one day. Keep your beliefs down to earth. Stay humble.
Ultimately, think of changing your limiting beliefs as buying a new pair of leather boots. At first, they will feel rigid and stiff, like they don’t fit. But after time, with wear — the more intently and longer you embody your new beliefs — the leather will mold itself to the shape of your foot, and the boots will start to feel comfortable — a.k.a., the new beliefs will start feeling like home.
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