Something I've noticed in the past 7 years of freelancing is that we tend to lose sight of our value.
Not values but value. Our worth, perceived worth to others, and our self-worth. This has some horrendous consequences as a freelancer.
Freelancing is already a career path wrought with challenges, uncertainties, and enhanced responsibility. You can't just "make it through the work day" when you're a freelancer. You need to have your shit together, day in, day out. And when you don't know your own worth, you make it that much easier for predatory clients to prey on you - to underpay you, to cheat you out of pay entirely, to abuse you, to disrespect your skills.
These are people you don't want to work with anyway, and it can be really hard to turn anyone down when you're destitute. I've been there - rock bottom, double digits in my bank account, credit maxed out, two kids to feed, and considering a job from the worst client on the planet. I basically had nothing, but I did have some self respect left in the tank, and that pulled me through.
Sometimes there are external factors working against you. To be frank, I am fortunate to be a white male living in the US. But the common thread I see among all under-performing or stagnating freelancers (including myself when I was younger) is that they simply do not value themselves enough. They never take time to step back and look at their worth, or to stick their neck out and seek out clients who are happy to meet them at a higher level.
I originally chose to freelance full-time because I hated the limited experience I had working for others in traditional jobs. I hated being treated like expendable trash, by the managers, by the bosses, by the patrons. The moment that I remembered this desire for respect - the moment that I remembered how to value myself - is the moment that I began to grow again.