How to heal those deep self-worth wounds

Low self-esteem and a sense of not being good enough can sabotage our lives and our relationships. We have to feel the original hurt to heal it. It can be painful, but it's so worth it.

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I began my personal development journey some 15 years ago. Back in my early 30s, I gradually came out of denial about my eating disorder and other self-harming behaviours around alcohol, compulsive work and relationships with men.

I slowly dropped the mask and began to talk about what was really going on inside. I went to therapy. I joined support groups for people recovering from addictive or compulsive behaviours and codependency. I've been doing this inner work for what feels like a very long time.

So I'm always surprised when I realise I've got more work to do. I say I'm surprised, but it only lasts a moment. Of course I've got more healing to do.

My wounds go deep. My negative core beliefs have been with me for a very long time.

My childhood experiences left me with a sense that I wasn't good enough, that I wasn't loveable and that there was something fundamentally wrong with me. I emerged from childhood thinking it wasn't safe to feel or to speak my truth and that I couldn't trust myself.

I have done lots of re-parenting work over the years to try and heal those wounds and my life today bears witness to my huge progress. I am in a healthy relationship with a wonderful man and engaged to be married. I am doing fulfilling work and living my purpose, through my book and my coaching.

Yet, I still have more inner work to do.

Connecting to the little girl inside

I did some of that work yesterday. I meditated, I wrote, I reconnected to my childhood wounds and I cried. I got in touch with the hurt little girl inside. I accepted my truth, which is that I still struggle to trust myself, to believe that I am enough.

I still battle with self-doubt and self-criticism. I still struggle with control, with wanting to be perfect, with wanting to be universally liked and loved. I still overstretch myself to compensate for my low self-esteem. I work too hard, give too much and charge too little. I still contort myself into funny shapes, hoping you'll like those shapes more than my actual shape.

I do it so much less than I used to. But I still do it.

The good news is I have awareness on my side, an ever-deepening awareness of the negative core beliefs I have to challenge every day, of the self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours that want to trip me up and get in my way.

Awareness is my weapon.

I also have courage and determination. I will overcome. I am committed to finding freedom, joy and inner peace. I am committed to fulfilling my purpose, to sharing my gifts and talents with the world, knowing that I have something wonderful to offer that can truly benefit others.

Do you have self-worth wounds?

I wonder if you can resonate with this. I wonder if you have deep, self-worth wounds that sabotage your life and relationships, that get in your way, trip you up and hold you back. I wonder if you've done lots of work on yourself already but that you know, deep down, you still have more work to do.

If so, can I suggest you carve out some time and space in your day to connect with your true self, to connect with the child inside.

You could start by sitting still or practising a form of meditation, such as mindfulness. If you don't like formal meditation, try just holding on to a cup of tea, feeling the warmth come through the cup into your hands and body. Or put your hand on your heart or your chest so that you can connect to your breath. You could also listen to some calming music.

As you connect to yourself and to any feelings that are buried beneath the surface, take out a pen and paper and begin to write. Write about the hurt. Write about those times, perhaps from your childhood, when you didn't feel good enough or wholly loved. Write about the memories that left you with wounds. Don't be afraid of the tears. We have to feel it to heal it. In fact, I know from experience that the more tears, the bigger the breakthrough.

Next, try to love yourself through the pain and the hurt. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket, both physically and metaphorically. Give your inner child the love, security, comfort and validation she missed out on. Affirm the opposite of those core beliefs. Tell yourself you are loved, you are whole and good, you are perfectly imperfect, you are enough, absolutely enough.

Repeat this process whenever you begin to feel not good enough, whenever your confidence or self-esteem takes a knock, whenever you feel that you want to wear a mask and hide your true self, and whenever you feel the cloak of shame taking hold.

To some people, feeling good enough comes naturally. Others, like me, have to work at it. We have to choose every day to believe that we are enough.

Will you join me today in making that choice?


Upcoming Events

How to Fall in Love Spring Retreat, May 18-21, Southbourne, Dorset. Self-love by the seaside. We explore self-esteem, self-confidence, relationship patterns, boundaries, letting go and visions for our lives. Earlybird offer ends midnight Monday 19th (saving £80 on full price rooms). Click here for more information. Email to book. 

How to Fall in Love: Challenging Fears & Changing Patterns. March 27, 7-9 pm, Conway Hall, London. Evening workshop on how to form a healthy relationship. Use code PSYCHOLOGIES for 10% discount. Click here to book. For a flavour of my evening workshops, check out this video of my last event with Psychologies and NOW Live Events.

Katherine Baldwin

Midlife Mentor, Dating & Relationships Coach, Author of 'How to Fall in Love'

I work with women and men who are ready to change their lives or careers and with those who want to find love. I guide people on a journey of inner transformation, similar to the journey I've been on. I know how it feels to be stuck in life and to be reluctantly single, and I know what it takes to change and find love. My book 'How to Fall in Love - A 10-Step Journey to the Heart' describes how I went from being a single woman, living in London, bored with my work and longing for a more fulfilling life to a woman in love, engaged to be married, living on the Dorset coast and doing work that makes my heart sing. I have been in recovery from an eating disorder, workaholism and dysfunctional relationship patterns for 14 years, during which time I've mentored and coached others on their journey to a healthier, happier life. I have a Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy Skills from the Westminster Pastoral Foundation. In my former life as a news journalist, I reported for Reuters from the Houses of Parliament and travelled with the prime minister. I climbed high but despite my external success, I felt empty inside. Since then, I've turned my life upside down in the best possible way. I work 1-2-1 and in groups, run workshops, courses and seaside retreats. I write for the national media and have appeared on radio and TV, most recently on Woman's Hour. I also speak to business leaders, students and school children about the importance of authenticity and of sharing our internal battles. I'm an advocate of wholehearted living. I do my best to walk the walk.


Go to the profile of Kizzy Robinson
almost 2 years ago

My life is lived in self esteem issues always seek approval from other not feeling worthy of every thing good. Fail relationship even a a fail marriage. Total feeling lost but im ready to live my truth and walk in forgiveness of past. Need no approval to live my life. Wonderful Article