What seems like a hundred years ago, as a newly minted living-by-myself person I bought this little card that said “if you do not value yourself, no one else will”. I framed it proudly and set it out where I could see it almost everyday. As life moved along, it moved too. Buried amongst the other trinkets of the day, the life, the breakneck speed with which life moves. And you know what, something happened. I forgot what it said.
Last week I wrote about the shoulda, coulda, woulda disease that effects me on the regular. I realized today in my dishwashing and house cleaning that I have another disease. It’s perhaps even more crippling than the first, because it tends to run through the very bloodstream of us if we let it, rather than just popping up when we feel like regret something, could have, should have or would have does something differently. It’s a poison that it insidious and one that I can’t say how or why it gets introduced into our bloodstream, but for many of us, it is a demon that follows us. It is the poison of the thought that we are unworthy.
Think about it, for so many of us, this mistaken belief effects us big and small. It limits the choices we make, the way we treat ourselves and others and even seemingly simple (but very life altering) aspects of our life like how we manage our finances. It stunts the greatness that is in all of us. How you say? I can only illustrate in my own life and hope that this might draw you to examine your life.
Choices: In feeling unworthy or like a failure before I even tried, I often take jobs beneath my education and skill set. A receptionist at 35 with a masters degree is unacceptable . Previously afraid of failure, I would not attempt the things that might make me stretch for fear that I might break. Stuck in the mindset that failure meant the end of something and possible end of me I did not see the resiliency that is mine as long as I do not give up. Crippled by internal voices that assured me of my unworthiness and stupidity to think I could be anything greater, I mistakenly believed it was virtually impossible for the broken pieces to come together in a new and better way as a result of failures, so I missed so many opportunities to stretch myself beyond the limits of where I thought I could thrive.
The way we treat ourselves and others: In buying into the bullshit of our unworthiness, many of us treat ourselves and others in such divergent ways. For the family, the coworker, the stranger even we defer the things that we have worked hard for.We give up the best piece of chicken, the seat with the better view, we buy the sweater we’ve wanted for months as the birthday gift to give away. Now, I am not advocating for you not to share. Not be kind. To be generous. Far from it…those are things I will always advocate and practice in my own life. BUT, it is learning to do it with a joyful heart and free of any sort of judgement that the other on the receiving end is more worthy of it. That they, in some way, should be deferred to, or that the work that they have put in out merits the work that you put in. Remember to congratulate yourself. Count your successes and triumphs. At least once every few months give yourself the best piece of chicken or buy a new sweater (or something you want) simply because you are you and you is pretty damn great. Take a moment to tell the beast of unworthiness to shove it — and then live it.
Finances: *This is a huge one for me* I have always been a really incredibly hard worker from young. As such, I was able to earn a good portion of money. And then boys and other life circumstances came along. I’m not sure how money ever became the currency of relationships but it did. At the time I didn’t realize it, but the poison of the unworthy complex led me to lend out huge sums of money and never collect on them. I figured in some way, that a) the money would eventually come back to me b) they needed it more than me c) they were doing some other favor for me (giving me a place to stay, giving me rides to places I needed to go etc) d) any other irrational excuse that made me far less financially stable. At the time, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my own face or the proverbial forest through the trees. I didn’t realize how my hesitation to collect on any of these debts that were rightfully mine actually gave power to the beasts of unworthiness. They were simply a manifestation of the things I chose not to articulate for fear of making them real.
The key to moving forward is realizing that the fears and feelings are real whether or not you say them out loud. Just because we like to turn our heads and pretend that we do not see the challenges in our path does not mean they are not coming for us. Collect on your debts. You earned it and you deserve to live the more secure and financially stable life that you put your blood sweat and tears into. Making others accountable for their actions and promises does not make you a bad person. It does not make you rude, bitchy, or out of line (now of course there are ways that we must request our recompense in order to avoid those classifications) but simply requesting what is rightfully yours does not earn you those titles. It is learning to see your worthiness and making the life you are living a reflection of it….valuing yourself and demanding that others do to. Learning to leave behind the ones that refuse to or choose to not support you in that mission and walking on.
Self Doubt: I look at my friends around me same age, same education, and they are successful. They have big jobs with big titles. They make two or three times what I make. When someone treats them unfairly or attempts to call into doubt their skills, their choices, or their leadership they don’t back down. Now, don’t get me wrong, it does not mean that they are better, brighter, or less afraid than I am to do whatever it is their position in life to do is. It means that they have chosen to see the value in themselves and act (live) according to the standards of value.
You know the good news about the whole thing? We now know that we have a very powerful weapon in the fight for finding this self and peace that comes with it. There is no magic code, there is no game tokens or amount of “life points” to collect to collect and turn in. It is choice to seize the self love and value that is already yours. I realize that some days more than others will be hard. This direction will seem crazy and you won’t be able to see how you ever made any headway as you again feel like you slid down the ladder of worthy challenged by the pressures of life or something that seemed to call into question the truth of that worthiness. The key is to get up and do something that reminds you of that daily.
One of the keys in this is to realize that He, the Universe, the great Powers that Be (whatever you ascribe to as your origins) made you. They made you very specifically with the larger picture in mind so in calling yourself unworthy I’d imagine that is more than a little offensive. Knowing that you are worthy, simply because you are made, focus your energies on what things you can do, big and small, to walk in that worthiness. Your heart, your love for people, commitment to a cause (the environment, the homeless, education, children, domestic abuse, cats, aquariums, board games etc), your choice to get up and do something each day is a step towards living this worthiness.