Talking with a friend last week, it was pointed out to me that many people do not consider themselves worthy of love. It is something I’ve struggled with, and for me it shows up around wanting things I think I can’t have and explaining why people haven’t treated me very well in the past. How this plays out is likely to be highly individual, based on what I’ve seen of other people.
For some people it means mistrust – if you don’t think you’re loveable, it is hard to trust that when people say they love you, they aren’t just after something. Anyone who has been manipulated in this way may doubt their own loveableness, and be wary of other people’s motives.
If you’ve had your worth tied to achievement, then your loveableness depends on what you can do. That’s exhausting, and demoralising. Mistakes and failures are incredibly threatening when your emotional security depends on feeling like you get everything right all the time.
For anyone who has grown up in an emotionally insecure environment, it’s like trying to re-grow a missing limb. We either learn to feel emotionally secure early on, or we don’t. For the person who has that fundamental experience of being loved and wanted, there’s some resilience available in face of other challenges life may create. For the person who was never sure they were wanted, never confident of an unconditional place in the world, all other challenges to worth are harder to meet.
No one can go back and re-do their formative experiences. However, we can take care of each other. We can look out for people who struggle around matters of love, worth and friendship, and look out for them. And of course it’s hard and scary if you’re both people with issues around love and worth because to say ‘I love you’ to a person is to open up all those fears about what your own unloveableness will mean. Of course it is harder for two people with these issues because it is so easy to read the other person’s wounding as a consequence of your not deserving to be loved.
When you don’t feel secure in your own self worth, it is harder to be vulnerable with someone. Harder to trust and to open your heart. But sometimes, if you can say ‘some people don’t feel worthy of love’ then you might get something back – even if that too is a bit indirect. Like a blog post.