by Andrea M. Darcy
Do you leave every relationship sure that the other person never really loved you? Always struggle to feel accepted by colleagues? Or, despite having many friends, do you secretly feel that nobody actually likes you?
Feeling unloveable can be a crushing weight, often one we deal with alone and are too ashamed to tell anyone.
Feeling unloveable and core beliefs
You might think you feel unloveable because of other people. You choose partners badly, the people at work are all idiots, you just can’t trust anyone these days.
But you are the one repetitively choosing these types of people and experiences. Somehow you are creating a life where you feel unloveable. What makes this endless cycle continue?
Feeling unloveable is actually what is known in psychology as a ‘core belief’.
A core belief is an assumption (often hidden deep within ourselves) we make about the world then mistake as a fact. It can sound like:
- I am not good enough to be loved
- I am too ugly/stupid/flawed/damaged to be loved
- There is something really wrong with me that means nobody can love me
- love is for other people, not me
- I am a monster that nobody can love.
The core belief lives in your unconscious, where it encourages you to live from a perspective that it dictates.
And the perspective of your core belief becomes the place you make all decisions from. So in the end, you prove the core belief true without even realising it is you doing so. You live up to your own warped expectations.
For example, if you have a core belief that you are unloveable, you will probably have a strong pattern in life of choosing partners who are emotionally unavailable. A person who did not have a core belief they were unloveable would walk away from such a situation.
But you will instead use the experience to ‘prove’ to yourself that you are yet again unloveable. In fact if someone loving did come along, you would probably find a reason to reject them.
What creates the belief you are unloveable?
Most core beliefs are created when we are children. We form them to understand our experiences and protect ourselves.
Childhood trauma is a leading cause of adults feeling unloveable. This might have been the loss of a parent or sibling, being abandoned or neglected by a parent, having a mentally unwell or addicted parent.
Childhood sexual abuse in particular leaves children with a damaged view of themselves. Even though they are the victim, their mind turns the tables and leaves them with a secret sense of guilt, or a sense they are damaged and now nobody can love them.
Had a seemingly perfect childhood but feel unloveable? Children need unconditional love, empathy, and acceptance to grow up into adults who feel loved. If, despite outward appearances, your main caregiver was, say, depressed and controlling, prone to ignoring you, or only showed you love if you were a ‘good girl’ or ‘quiet boy’, then you can end up believing you are unloveable as is.
Connected psychological conditions
Feeling unloveable might ‘sound’ like not a big deal. But it is a very serious matter. It can be a a contributing cause for many other psychological conditions and is sadly a leading cause of suicide. Other issues and disorders it is connected to include:
What can I do if I feel unloveable?
The key thing to learn here is that feeling unloveable tends to be a belief, not a fact. And a belief can be challenged then changed.
Remember, too, that it’s actually your own decisions supporting this false belief. This means that if you find support to learn new ways of behaving, you’ll find that even small changes can move you towards love instead of away from it.
Feeling unloveable often connects to difficult childhood experiences that need processing, so finding support is recommended.
[To learn strategies for feeling more loveable you can try alone, sign up to our blog now to receive an alert when we post the next piece in this series, ‘Simple techniques to help you feel more loveable starting today’. ]
What types of therapy can help me if I feel unloveable?
All talk therapies tend to help you with feeling more likeable.
This is because therapy is actually a relationship, one that grows between you and your therapist. And it’s a relationship that helps you experience (perhaps for the first time) what it’s like to trust and be trusted.
Schema therapy and dialectical behavioural therapy are particularly recommended longer-term therapies if you struggle to have lasting relationships. They are both also noted for treating those with borderline personality disorder or who suffered sexual abuse.
Several newer, shorter-term therapies are also helpful with changing core beliefs about being loveable. Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most popular. The CBT process trains your brain to recognise and no longer instantly react but to negative thoughts. This frees you to make a positive action instead of spiralling into a spiral of negative moods and actions.
Cognitive analytical therapy (CAT) and dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT) also look at your patterns of thinking and behaving, but they both have a focus on your relationships.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) focuses on helping you notice, accept, and embrace life and yourself. It also focuses on helping you recognise what your personal values are, then take the actions needed to align your life with them.
Curious to try one of the talk therapies mentioned above? Harley Therapy can you connect you with a warm, empathic and experienced psychotherapist in one of three London locations. Not in the UK? Online therapy helps you wherever you are.
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