You’re one of those days or weeks. Nothing seems to be working, your motivation is complete, and you are thinking about leaving. Your confidence is running empty and you are feeling worthless.
Breathe, because we’ve all been there. Also, I want to remind you that high-growth lifestyles come with weak emotions. You are feeling as if nothing has been said about your character or ability.
A study by Harvard Business Review surveyed CEOs at the top of their game and revealed that most have felt the syndrome over the past year questioning their ability and competence.
Keeping this in mind, remember that you are not alone.
However, the longer you remain idle, the more clarity and speed will start to decrease. Because it is normal to feel that way, living there becomes an option.
In this article, you will learn 11 things to remember and help you take practical steps to help you come to the other side with more resolution and clarity, not less. Let’s dive in.
1. High vulnerability equal to high growth
If you are not committed to anyone’s personal and professional development, you will not read this article. And it should be clear here – a high-growth life needs to deal with dirty feelings.
Well, for starters, you are leaving your comfort zone. You are working on yourself. You are no longer a “talkative”, but someone who is actually doing it. It is important to remember that what you are doing now is a natural part of development.
2. You’re exactly where you need to be
One of the biggest misconceptions in psychology is that if you feel bad you should feel bad. Nothing could be further from the truth; “Negative” feelings are as healthy as positive. It is our response to negative emotions that can cause harm. But emotion alone is a healthy and normal part of life.
Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University who wrote the book Over your dark side spreads out:
“There is not so much 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 for growth, not an inhibitor.
3. Zoom out to step away from the trenches
Often, we can be in a transient valley – a place where we feel worthless and wonder what it is all about. In this place, we can’t see clearly and to leave seems like a great idea.
Bestselling author and marketing guru Seth Godin calls it “Dip”, and Adobe’s Scott Belsky calls it messy middle. Although we want to choose its name, I want you to remember that evolution 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 that we never expected.
This is when you have to zoom out of your current valley. Expand your time horizon, and identify how far you’ve come during the last six months or three years. It reminds you that you have grown up, 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 unwilling to do anything. But remember: Emotions are like the weather: scattered, disorganized, unpredictable.
Sure, the weather can be intense – a random hail with thundering winds, but the next day, the sun comes back out and everything is peaceful and normal again.
Your feelings also work this way. Remember that your current state is temporary. In fact, brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor argues that any emotion falls far short of what we believe. According to Taylor, the chemical process of emotion lasts only 90 seconds.
What does this mean to you?
You will feel good You will feel worthy, inspired and excited for life again. Acceptance of this state, rather than resistance, leads to a feeling of peace.
5. The world’s most successful feeling this way too
Role models, mentors, and people you see have the same feeling you are feeling right now. Others may find it easier to walk due to their achievements. Surely, they never feel worthless, do they?
This could not be further from the truth. Everyone in this world – especially those who are growing up – feels this way. Even though their social media exposes reels and online personalities, they struggle like you.
Some of the most successful people on the planet feel worthless at times. A recent documentary, Weight of gold, Portrayed 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, with millions of eyes of praise and respect. And they, too, struggle with feeling worthless.
6. There is a lot that is working
Being in an unsafe state can separate our awareness in all the ways that are not working for us. We think of those who betrayed our trust. We think that after giving time and energy to an organization, it is removed. We postpone a comment on social media and focus on how our goals are not becoming fast enough.
Remember, you woke up today – there were not 50,000 people. Your heart is still beating to the tune of 2,000 gallons per day. You have access to shelter and clean water. This is a simple perspective change that allows us to lower the bar on gratitude and to remember what is working.
7. Creates contrast perspective
We live in a culture that emphasizes positivity 24/7. We must present our best – we must find the ‘silver lining’ in every circumstance. And while these are noble aspirations, they are not real life.
Enter the opposite in life – the experience of doing something different. Difficult moments, unbalanced emotions, and experiencing conflict in our lives all lead to a new attitude that we would not have had otherwise.
With “opposite”, we better ask questions. We want better answers. We ask for help by building a deep relationship. We become sensitive to the struggle of others. We may also get an idea for a change in our life that can only be accessed by contrast.
With that said, be curious. When we are curious about our feelings and what we are doing, we are kind rather than judgmental. We are open to new insights rather than to label ourselves. All these promote 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”. This is a simple document where I keep screenshots, emails, comments on compliments and reminders of those honors.
We all have a folder in our mind where we can remember the truth about ourselves – the places we showed and then saw. Everyone is taken aback by someone else’s achievement. The continuity we showed when it became easy to leave. You may not have this folder available, however, I highly recommend that you start creating it.
But even without this, remind yourself of the truth. To do this, you have to transcend your current circumstances and emotional state and dig deeper.
9. Why do you do this work
If you are reading this article, you are interested in maximizing your potential and fulfilling a productive, life. This means that you have a toolkit at your disposal — practices, routines and tasks designed exactly for what you are going through now.
Remember that hard times are the best time to use these tools, whether meditating, time in nature, doing some journaling, or lasting longer – don’t forget the power of these devices.
Recognize that most people do not do this work. They will focus their time, energy and attention on wandering or entertainment. But you are here, and this is when “work” really pays off.
10. Emotional Agility is a Superpower
Because negative emotions do not feel good – such as feeling worthless and lost – it is easy to distract and avoid them. Watching Netflix, spending hours on social media or even getting out of the issue is easy for us to drink and eat on our way.
Harvard psychologist Susan David talks about the need for emotional agility, a skill that can be trained, defined as:
“A person’s ability to experience their thoughts and feelings and events in a way that does not drive them in negative ways, but rather encourages them to reveal themselves best.”
Consider what you are feeling now as an opportunity to practice this skill.
11. Breathe, play, lighten, help others
When you are emotionally contracted, you are physically stressed. Body language begins to open less, shoulders tend to slide forward. It is easy to tighten and even enter fight or flight.
We often forget that the number one tool we have is to release heavily and go back to the center – our breath. By engaging in breathing exercises – some very necessary deep breaths or box breathing – you can create a state of clarity and calmness.
Another tool is to help someone else when you are feeling worthless. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? We should focus on ourselves. We should fix the issue and do so now.
Weirdly enough, by focusing ourselves, we find healing. There is nothing grand in it – but encouraging an old friend, a random act of kindness, or skipping a snack for a person on the street pays dividends.
All these can create what psychologists call “donor’s high”, and shift their perspectives.
What if your next development cycle is feeling worthless?
There is nothing wrong with your way of feeling. Assessing our emotions is like running in a thunderstorm with anger and demanding to bring the sun 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 though it seems distant. Often, this is much closer than you think. Use these reminders and practical methods to shift the perspective of some much-needed breathing room.
be kind to yourself. Minimize the nonsense of the inner critic. Overcome the negativity and chaos of the world and take small steps in the right direction. As you do, celebrate small progress in a memorable way and you have plenty of evidence to show yourself.
As time passes, you will wake up and return to a thriving state. You will be surprised how long it took you to get this feeling and be equipped with a new attitude and empathy.
More to remind you of your own value
Featured Photo Credit: Joshua Rawson-Harris via unsplash.com