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Looking after ourselves

Casual Contributor

How to cultivate self-worth??

Hello all,

I'm new to the community here, & new to the forums at all actually! 

I recently got officially diagnosed, however have known for about 3+ years that my struggles would be labelled BPD. I've been doing self-work for those 3 years, and only recently started therapy. I have made progress towards recovery, but nowhere close to being there yet. Although... I have finally been seeing small changes in my reactions and behaviours after ALOT of practicing and trying!

Anyways, hello! I hope you're all doing ok !!


My question is: What have you done to increase you sense of self-worth and to shift away from the deep internalised belief of unworthiness?


This issue plagues me endlessly. And everytime I have a behavioural issue (meltdown, rage attack, tantrum etc) then I feel so much shame I spiral out on self-loathing and unworthiness. 


I try to practice self-compassion, but it is so hard. I know I need to keep sticking at it... 


What else helps convince yourself that you are actually truly worthy of life/friends/love/existence etc.? What practices do you use to deal with unworthiness?


Pls help & TIA!




Re: How to cultivate self-worth??

Hi @Janis_J  welcome to the forums. I will be following this post with interest as I also need to work out how to feel less unlovable. I have bipolar and bpd. I will tag you in a bpd thread where you can chat with others who also have the bpd diagnosis. 


Re: How to cultivate self-worth??

Hi @Meggle @Janis_J 

Keen to follow along on this too. I was diagnosed BPD 15+yrs ago, unsure it still stands now? But also have an eating disorder and this is obviously a huge area that I struggle with.

Re: How to cultivate self-worth??

@Bow @Janis_J 

Unfortunately it's really easy to feel self loathing and not so easy to believe that you are even worthy of anything good. I think I need reprogramming entirely.



Re: How to cultivate self-worth??

Hi @Janis_J 


Fantastic to hear you have taken the initiative to make some progress on your own! It seems you've been working really hard with skill practice and gaining insight. 


I also have BPD, and how I have changed developed self worth is through practicing self compassion. I know you said you do that, and you're looking for more skills and other ways to do this. For me, self compassion has many features and ways of doing it. I will list them below, and I hope they are helpful.


I soothe myself by giving myself physical affection like a hug, rubbing my knee, holding my own hand and saying "You're ok, I'm here for you." 

I imagine "little me" when things were very hard, and I act as adult me to soothe her. I picture her in front of me and say reassuring things like "I know you're hurting right now and no one is here for you. I'm here for you and I'm an adult, and I will protect you. It's ok to feel these feelings...." and I speak to my inner child as I would a frightened, sad, hurt child now. 


I have made a collage of photos of when I was young and written validating quotes of things I wished I heard when I was younger.

Thinking about shared humanity. I remember I am human. Even though I feel alone, there are billions of people struggling. I think of all the people with BPD around the world who suffer just like me. I feel a connection to all people in the world with BPD and I put out "loving energy" to us all.  I think about their suffering and how I would hope they would treat themselves. 


I have identified where those internalised beliefs come from. I have realised those internatlised beliefs were my minds way of understanding the world when I was very little, with a very small amoount of experience, so my mind needed to make connections and form beliefs. These unhelpful beliefs are not true. Whenever I notice the belief, I diffuse from it by saying "Yes, my brain is having the old thought that I'm a bad person because........and I'm aware this is just a thought."


I hope this has been helpful to you. 

Re: How to cultivate self-worth??

Thank you for putting the time into that reply Aniela. <3 


I actually regularly practice each of those things you mentioned! But I have only been exploring these compassion practices for a few months, I think I need patience to allow the feeling to really develop within me. 

I do alot of Loving Kindness meditation, and also like to connect to our Common Humanity through this, as well as sending loving kindness out to all those suffering (esp with BPD as that creates a feeling of connection, hope & strength for me.) Through this I offer myself compassion and well wishes too, which I repeat to myself throughout the day when I am struggling and remember (maybe 30% of the time, and it really does help in those times!).


I also practice talking to all the differnt 'parts' of myself (based on concepts from IFS, Internal Family Systems) and showing compassion and acceptance for all the different parts inside of me. Not resisting or rejecting any parts, but treating them like a classroom of kids where they are all welcomed with love, kindness and care.  


I do lots of self-care and really try to feel the intention of compassion towards myself as I do the things (like take the afternoon off, have a bath etc). 


I do all of this,  But then the old stories and conditioning start roaring louder, trying to get my attention again, and I become extremely self-critical (read: hating on myself) for not being able to practice self-compassion 'good' enough. And I realise the problem there is a lack of acceptance, perfectionsim, unrelenting standards... I just keep telling myself 'I forgive you' & 'I will be kind to myself'.


I think I need to repeat these practices ALOT (like many years) to really overcome my 'triggers' and feelings of unworthiness though. Like almost anything my partner says I can construe as confirming the 'truth' of my unworthiness, which then sends me into a despair spiral. Even with these self-compassion practices I find 'confirmation' of my unworthiness everywhere I look (on a bad day, on a good day its not so bad). 


I think like all things, I just need to practice, practice, practice and keep believing! Lean into love.

Re: How to cultivate self-worth??

Hi all,


What an interesting topic and one I am willing to answer with regards to my experience but I am still on a journey with this myself. I am not an expert. But sharing an be helpful I hope...


I have BPD and have been in therapy for this for some months. With my psychologist, we decided to opt for a Schema therapy approach first rather than DBT. I believe Schema is more focussed on meeting the needs that I missed out on as a child, that manifest as self-hate and low self-esteem today. So I would say Schema treats the cause, DBT treats the effect. DBT papers over the cracks, Schema tries to fill them in as much as possible. 


Part of Schema is about providing 5 categories of needs that were missed in childhood and these needs are met in therapy, to the best of my psychologist's ability. The 5 categories are: 1) Connection (like love, attachment and belonging) 2) Freedom of expression 3) Autonomy (individual identity) 4) Playfulness (creativity and spontaneity) 5) limits and boundaries. 


So my psychologist provides me with care, attention and attachment to help me with 1. She encourages me to talk about my needs and to express my feelings, even when they are demanding or rude for 2 (she doesn't always agree with me but I get unconditional positive regard). Then I am learning how to self soothe for 3 - to look after myself with self-compassion. I am being encouraged to create, joke, play, write in therapy for 4 - being silly and goofy. Then we discuss limits like appropriate behaviour etc in therapy for 5 (we don't do hugging or touching in our sessions but we do say nice things to each other for example, like "I care about you"). 


In Schema we also go back and deal with painful memories by rescripting them. It's kind of like changing the ending to painful memories. My psychologist might jump into the memory and defend me. I might defend myself by telling the person who did me wrong, what I think of them. Sounds goofy and it is but it changes how you subconsciously feel about yourself and increases self-worth because your subconscious now believes you've been defended during those difficult moments. 


The culmination of this stuff helps my self esteem a lot. Before therapy I had no deep connecting relationships, now I am confident enough to connect to people and not be afraid they will hurt me or not I will rage. I now have a secure attachment so feel confident in socialising, when I was avoidant before. I couldn't even text people bfore without worrying about if they will reply or feeling rejected if they didn't. 


I still have bad days. The other day someone did something I perceived as a rejection. I started self loathing and feeling negative about myself. It took me a day or so to come out of it but I didn't rage, didn't split that person or rely on drinking to soothe myself. I managed to pull out of it by self soothing by repeating that the person who I thought rejected me, in fact just set a boundary which is something I value and need, and that really they did that because they care about our relationship. It took a while to be effective but I also tell myself when i feel bad that "I have been here before and this is temporary and I will get out of it". 


Schema is not a 100% cure type therapy but evidence suggests it improves BPD by on average 50% or so, which is enough for many people to no longer meet DMS 5 criteria for BPD.


Hope this helps. Pato. 

Re: How to cultivate self-worth??

Hello, and nice to meet you Meggle Smiley Happy 

Re: How to cultivate self-worth??

Thank you Pato! I am so glad you opened my eyes to Schema Therapy, I am intrigued. 

Does Schema Therapy address behaviour change and coping tools as well, or is it more about reprogramming the conscious/subconscious narratives (and therefor eventually resolving issues to reduce destructive behaviours, triggers and reactions)?


As you mentioned, I could see how creating new memories/narratives on top of the old 'unworthy' ones could be very helpful for counteracting this conditioned belief of unworthiness. 

Re: How to cultivate self-worth??



Hi Meggle,


Your comment about reprogramming amused me.


But sometimes it can feel like that.




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