Coronavirus rules the world right now. Spreading, infecting, killing.
The human race had to retreat into social distancing, self-isolation, quarantines and lockdowns.
And, for many people, it is the first time that they are truly alone. Cut off from their bustling lives and social interactions.
And, even if they never before struggled with low self-worth, they now feel insecure, unsettled, anxious. Because, in isolation, they are starting to doubt their worth.
Now, feeling worthless during social isolation is nothing new for us introverts.
We are the misfits, the outsiders. The ones who are always too anxious to introduce ourselves, start a conversation, invite others in.
We are the ones who never fit in, no matter what we try. The awkward rejects, who are too terrified to speak up and claim our place in society.
And we always believed that we were experiencing social isolation because we didn’t have enough worth. And as such we were unacceptable to others.
But what if worthlessness was never the origin of our social isolation? What if, instead, social isolation creates a feeling of worthlessness?
We aren’t lonely because we were worthless. Rather, we feel worthless, because we are alone. For 4 simple, but profound reasons.
Let me explain.
Whether you struggled with low self-esteem and low self-worth before coronavirus or not, chances are that since you have been in social isolation you start to feel more and more worthless.
So, today, I want to talk about why this happens. Why do we feel worthless when we are socially isolated? And what we can do about it?
You see, as an introvert, I was prone to being socially isolated. And when you are in social isolation, it is very easy to feel worthless and I think a lot of introverts will be able to emphasise with that.
But now I get more and more messages from people who say:
“I used to have really good self-esteem and I never had problems with my self-worth. But now that we are in lockdown, that we are in social isolation, I feel more and more worthless, what can I do?”
And if this is you, I just want to say to you that this is normal. It’s not healthy. But it is normal in our society.
For one simple reason, which we will talk about in a second.
But first, let us have a look at the four reasons why we feel worthless during social isolation.
The reason why we feel worthless during social isolation is that we are cut off from the 4 main sources from which we derive our sense of worth:
We tend to determine our worth dependant on how others look at us and what others think about us. As such, a lot of our self-esteem originates in whether people like us. Whether they think that we are good people, are successful, achieve a lot, are popular.
We feel worthy when people feel pleased with what we do for them. So, a lot of where we get our worth from has to do with our own interaction with other people and how these people react to us.
If they react positively to us, if they appreciate what we do, if they are grateful, if they are pleased with us, we feel good and worthy.
So, our sense of worth comes from interactions with other people. And in the social isolation where we find ourselves at the moment, we have no way to gauge our worth based on what other people think about us.
Because we simply do not have the information.
The second main source of our worth is how much we achieve and contribute to society.
Now, at the moment, certain key workers contribute a lot. And they get praised for a very good reason.
Of course, they deserve all of that acknowledgement. Most of them have been in the shadows for a long time and it is about time they get celebrated.
But what about the rest of us that sits at home?
We are stuck at home trying to cope and hold it all together, barely may I add. And we think that we are not achieving anything. We are not contributing anything to the society. We aren’t helping anybody.
And for many of us, our sense of worth depends on our achievements. The more we achieve, the more we feel worthy, and the higher our self-esteem.
At the moment, our biggest achievement is to get out of bed in the morning. To not cry during the day. And, let’s face it, they are not achievements that have a very high status.
And our sense of worth suffers because we just don’t have the feeling that we have any purpose. We feel useless and, as a consequence, we feel worthless.
The third main source of our worth is how we compare with others.
When we are in the office, when we are in work, we constantly think about how we are comparing to the next person.
Am I as successful? Did I achieve as much? Am I as pretty? Is my form as good? Am I as sporty? Am I as fit?
Whatever it is, we constantly compare ourselves with other people.
Right now, there are not so many people around to compare ourselves to. So, we are kind of lacking the benchmark. As a result our mind starts to make up benchmarks.
“Oh, look at these people, they are achieving so much!”
“Oh, look at them on Facebook, they have everything under control.”
“Look at all the nurses and doctors, they do so much, and I don’t!”
“Look at this or that celebrity and how much they have achieved. They are the same age as I. Oh my Goodness, I did not achieve any of that!”
Our mind goes into overdrive, thinking we are nothing compared to everybody else. And that is one major source of a feeling of worthlessness.
The fourth main source of a feeling of worth is the level of control that we have over our lives and affairs. And with it, the level of perfection that we achieve.
At the moment, if we are fair, we are barely holding it together. And you are not the only one. It’s the same for me and everybody.
We are barely holding it together. And that is not perfection let’s face it.
Some days we might not even get out of our pyjamas. Because, what is the point? At the moment, there is no point.
But it does not help our feeling of worth.
Because we are lacking this feeling of control, our comfort zone has evaporated. It is gone! Everything changes all of the time. And yet, every day is the same. And we can do nothing about it but wait and sit it out.
We are of no use to anybody, we have no control over anything. And from that arises a deep feeling of worthlessness.
So, what can we do about this?
Are we just doomed to sit at home and feel all worthless for the rest of however long this will take?
The simple reason is that all of these four main sources of worth, all of our conditions that we put upon worth, are complete nonsense.
They are! They are society imposed nonsense.
You see, we are told from birth that we are empty vessels. Devoid of any worth. Worthless.
But we can gain worth if we achieve things. If we compare well to others, if others perceive us well, if they are pleased with us, if they appreciate us.
We can increase our worth if we have lot of social media likes, lots of subscribers and followers, if we are very popular. And if we are perfect and have everything under control.
So that is how we get worth.
But most of us, especially now, do not fulfil those criteria at all. And the natural reaction is to feel worthless.
The thing is though, that is all a lie.
Just look at a baby. If it was true the we were inherently worthless until we can earn some worth, then any baby who has no achievements, no success, no money, would be completely worthless.
And yet, you look at a baby and you think “Oh my Goodness, this is such a valuable human being.”
And the same applies to us. We don’t just lose worth when we grow up. And we cannot gain worth. Because we were never worthless to begin with.
Because everyone of us IS worth. Personified.
It is the essence of our being. We can never be worthless.
It doesn’t matter if others are pleased or displeased with us. Or whether indeed we have no clue how they feel about us because we are isolated from them.
It does not matter how much we contribute.
If you are holding it together today, you have done well. If you cry this evening you have done well.
It does not matter to your worth how much you achieve, how purposeful your life is, how much you contribute.
Help out somebody, you know. Maybe call your mum. Call a friend who struggles. Send a care package to a neighbour who struggles. You can do little things and that is enough.
And if all you can do right now is get out of bed that is enough too.
It doesn’t matter how you compare to others. Just get it all out of your head. It does not matter. You are you and you ARE worth and you are enough.
And it also does not matter, how much control you have. At the moment give up control altogether. Trust the flow of life, we will get out of this again and we start up new.
We live in unprecedented times.
But this is not the time to suffocate in worthlessness. To spiral deeper and deeper into: “I am a useless loser, I have no purpose. I am worthless”.
This is your chance to appreciate your true worth. Not the worth that society appoints you based on how successful you are, how old you are, what your weight is, or how pretty you are.
It does not matter. That worth does not matter. It is arbitrary nonsense.
But to really become aware of your true worth. The worth that is within you, that was always there.
So, whenever your mind says: “I am worthless”, you need to retrain that mind and say: “NO! I AM worth. Personified. I am, therefore I AM worth.”
There are no conditions on worth. And your mind needs to be trained to understand that.
You know, like a little puppy. If your mind says: “I am worthless”, you say to the mind (sternly): “Drop It”.
“I am worthless.”
“But I am worthless.”
“Drop it! I AM worth."
Take the time that you have now, during social isolation, during lockdown, to really work on the awareness of your true worth.
Once you know your true, inherent, inner worth, you will never, ever feel upset again if somebody criticises you. Because it does not change your worth.
You will never feel angry again if somebody does not appreciate you. Because it does not affect your worth.
You will never feel worthless again if you are alone. Because the presence of other people and whether other people approve of you or not does not change anything about your worth.
So, take this time not to think about your worthlessness. But to work on your awareness of your true, inner worth. Because you ARE worth.
Always have been. Always will be. No social isolation will change it. Nothing will ever change it.
You ARE worth.
And I will see you soon.