I’m generally plagued by feelings of worthlessness. I often think that I’m not a good person and that therefore I often feel there is no use in trying to better something that is already irreparably broken. Often times I’ll even go as far as to say that not only am I worthless, but everyone is worthless. That there is no value or sanctity in human life at all. I think it’s normal to think like that when I’m in a period of massive depression, but I also think that it’s important to be able to recognize those feelings as a blatant contradiction of reality. Certainly I wouldn’t take the life of another person, so in that statement alone I can recognize that I do value the sanctity in life. But would I take my own life in these periods of emotional bankruptcy? I think I’m definitely capable of doing so. So the question that remains for me is how do I remedy these feelings so something like that doesn’t occur?
I have to understand that best is the enemy of better. I have to be cognizant of the fact that there is no perfection, and an expectation of perfection will only massively discourage me, even if things are improving. I need to remember that everyone and everything, including life, is a collection of positive and negative qualities. I believe that there are actually very few malevolent people, most people do exist with some sort of conscience or regard for other people, even if it’s deep down and seems to rarely surface. I need to stop focusing on the fact that I need to become the best person. I need to stop comparing my past actions with the past actions of my peers. Because for me, the fact is, I’ve done a lot of things I regret deeply but these are things that can’t be changed.
All I can really do is continue to learn and improve. I don’t know if I’m viewed as an objectively good person or a bad person but that shouldn’t have a bearing on what I know to be true myself. Have I always been a good person? No. But am I actively trying to become a better person? If the answer is yes, then I can absolve myself of those feelings that I’m no good, or that I’m worthless. The past is irrelevant to the moral standing I place on myself inside my head. The only relevant factor in determining my worth is my actions in the present. If I can honestly say I’m trying to better myself, keeping in mind that best will never come, then if I’m being honest, I almost have no choice but to concede that I might not be as bad and worthless as I think I am.
If the answer to that question is no, I’m not trying to be a better person, then the answer is equally as easy to locate. All I have to do is try my best to be better than I have been previously. These feelings of worthlessness don’t stem from nowhere for me, and I recognize that. Their genesis is rooted in the past, and they were bolstered by my own actions. I felt worthless so I behaved in a manner that convinced me of that fact. But as time elapses I realize that I don’t have to feel worthless, and that at this state I really shouldn’t feel worthless. If I know every day that I’m an improvement of the person that I was yesterday, then I shouldn’t feel worthless. I should recognize that a truly worthless person wouldn’t even attempt to improve their own condition. A worthless person would continue to behave selfishly and in complete disregard for others.
If I can define what I think a worthless person is, then I’m on the right track. If I can conjure up some idea of what it would actually mean to be worthless, all I have to do is behave in a manner that doesn’t represent that definition. For me my feeling of worthlessness stems from just feeling as though I’m not a good person. My inner dialogue has a tendency to warp my thoughts into putting me in this box of “I’m a bad person”, “I’m no good”, “I’m worthless”. But I know that I can combat that. I can augment my actions in each moment to behave in a way that speaks to the contrary of those destructive mantras. Obviously my feelings of worthlessness won’t dissipate instantly, but given enough time I’m sure I can replace those erroneous thoughts with the objective reality that I am a person who is trying their best to do better.
- Jack A. Bingham
Author of Obsessive-Compulsive Dramatic: My Fight Against OCD, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Addiction