It makes you wonder if there is something wrong with you.
When you feel like you don’t matter to significant others, it’s a searing pain like no other.
Feeling unwanted sheaths you in shame.
Feeling unwanted makes you feel bad about yourself
When you feel unwanted you start to dislike yourself – just as you imagine others do.
Feeling unwanted makes you disgusted with yourself, because after all, if you aren’t wanted,
there must be something awful about you that everyone is avoiding.
Feeling unwanted makes you wonder what you have done to be so unattractive. So you start to
invent explanations about what it is that makes you so unlovable, so rejected, and dismissed – a
canker sore on the lives of those who mean the world to you.
Maybe you are the ugly duckling in the family!
Perhaps you aren’t good enough!
Maybe you aren’t strong enough!
Maybe you eat too much!
Or perhaps you don’t take care of your mother’s feelings the way you should if you were a good
You may even start to hate yourself because your efforts to please people and earn their love
Feeling unwanted makes you question your identity.
Feeling unwanted – how and when does it start?
Often it starts before you are born. When you are inside your mother’s womb you get a clear
message from her stress hormones that she is uncomfortable with you inside her. You know
that she is cursing you every time she vomits in her pregnancy. Hearing her complain about
back pain, or gestational diabetes makes you feel unwanted, and scared of being born.
Fetuses hear their parents argue, and can sense when there is tension around the pregnancy –
whether the fetus is the girl or boy they always wanted. If your parents wanted a daughter and
they got another son, you already feel unwanted.
Feeling unwanted in the infant years
If your mother is preoccupied with her own feelings of overwhelm, and or anxiety about being a
good parent, you the tiny baby sense the tension. You feel a strong pull to soothe your mom, so
that when she is calm, you can actually have your needs met for holding, eye contact and
safety. Otherwise you never feel secure and that is the major contributory factor to feeling
Some mothers are ‘mechanical’ and they do all the right things, almost as if they are following a
recipe. You get changed, fed, burped, bathed etc. but you don’t feel the warmth and comfort of
being held close, looking at each other with adoration that is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY for baby
to feel seen, feel real, worthy and wanted.
So your body might get the attention of a mechanical mother, but your soul, your mind and
sense of self are prevented from developing – keeping you stuck in the place of feeling
unwanted – and therefore unable to think well enough of yourself to grow and mature
Feeling unwanted as you grow up and reach adulthood
The experience of feeling unwanted persists throughout life and reaches its peak in early to
mid-adulthood when you are looking for a partner. You fear being rejected leads you to morph
into whatever a prospective mate might be looking for. But in the process you are lost, there is
no you – so you can’t make a lasting relationship. Feeling unwanted either makes you dependent on others – burdening them with the job of proving that you are wanted; or it
makes you feel you have to sacrifice yourself for a loved one in order to live in their orbit and
share their lives.
Feeling unwanted therefore turns you into a perfectionist, hoping it will be enough for your
chosen one – martyring yourself if necessary – only to find it doesn’t work – shaming you in
Feeling Unwanted – turning it around to feel that you matter and are lovable
The road to feeling wanted, worthy and valued is a long and hard one. It’s a journey that you
can’t go on alone, because you need someone who wants to be with you enough to prove that
you aren’t a stinky mess and that you are tolerated and celebrated for what you are. That’s the
journey Ian, the character in the book goes on. He discovers how hard he works at being blind
to the parts of him that he doesn’t approve of, and in so doing discards his humanity.
Go on this journey with him as he feels unwanted in family of origin, his job, his romantic
interests and then his own children. Discover how he begins to accept his authentic self as
loveable, valuable and attractive – as he starts to feel wanted for his own sake during and
because of the special relationship he made in the therapeutic process.