I have read a LOT about worth and value, about being good enough and loving yourself unconditionally. I have tried the affirmations, loosing weight, pampering (my overweight & imperfect) body with massage oils and scented lotions. I have tried to read many (I mean MANY) books on this topic, each putting forward its own way, technique or a philosophy which should’ve enlighten me into the truth of my worth and value, and improve my ability to love myself and accept myself just as I am now.
Well, today, I am intended to make my small input and share my own personal insights and observations on this issue. Really, on the issue part more than on a solution part. It has been my experience that when you honestly and passionately dig into the issue, ruthlessly get your hands dirty in the soil of your consciousness and try to get hold of those deep stubborn roots of self-denial and self-criticism (which poisons our experience of life), this very act empowers and enables you to transform these self-imposed (yes, I insist that it is always self-learned, self-approved, and essentially self-imposed) judgments and limitations regarding what exactly makes up our worth and determines out value in life.
To begin with, I want to draw your attention to where I think it all comes from element. Looking back at my own upbringing, I have learned very early in life to link love, acceptance and approval of my parents or anyone in my life to certain favorable actions, accomplishments and choices I made. In other words, very rarely (if ever) have I heard, as a child or a teenager that I, as a human, have an innate, unchanging, solid, pre-given and inalienable worth and value just because I happen to be here. Nobody ever told me that I am to honor and respect and value this mere fact of being me, that this is wonderful and good enough reason for my family or friends and also myself to be glad about my very existence.
Having never heard any notions about my worth and value in and of itself, I have been constantly (directly or indirectly) bombarded by the myriad of conditions and requirements and preferences posed at me by my parents, teachers, peers (kids at school) and a larger society in general on what to do, how to act and what to accomplish. I, similar to many of you out there have learned very early that in order to be loved, accepted, approved or validated in one way or another I have to constantly earn this trough my actions and efforts. Even with my parents, I do not remember this inner conviction that I would be loved, welcomed, celebrated and accepted unless and until I met some requirements and achieved some shiny, good results. So before I knew it, I had very well internalized and imprinted this formula into the core of my mind: first, I have to be, do, have, achieve and deliver XXX, and then I will earn, get and become worthy (!) of love and approval and will get validation that I so much desire (who doesn’t, really!?).
While we get a constructive and valuable sense of the right direction, as well as get useful insights on how to act and what to do in order to become sociable and adequate members of the society or our community, this logic of having to earn my worth and “good enoughness” didn’t work out that well for me. Expanding and growing over the years, this logic/formula in my mind has turned into an intricate web of wires and connections in my consciousness, which stated to permeate my perception of myself, of my worth and value, in a way that made my inner sense of worth and lovableness linked and conditional upon an endless list of accomplishments and STUFF.
This usually goes well, for many of us. We like it so much to be better than them, to be the smartest, most talented, to have better grades and more trophies, to feel the pride of getting into better school and landing the best job one could think of. We usually do not even question this seemingly correct and benign logic of deserving love and affection and approval by having accomplished XXX. The problems do start, however, the moment when this beautiful “shield” we used to show off and carry around, the one which has made us immune to ever revealing or even feeling the sense of inadequacy or lack of self-worth shatters and falls apart.
The drama and darkness that creeps out of this facet in our thinking and looking at our place and worth in life in such a way is that some of the most talented, hardworking, diligent, capable and simply good people collapse and loose their sense of SELF when all of those hard-earned attributes of success (which they think make them worthy and loveable) are somehow lost. I explain it by the great omission in my earlier upbringing, where I did not receive a valuable and important education by authority figures that would enable me to discover, see and be aware of the Self, which is good and precious and lovable. Period. To get to know that there is THAT which I am, and that it is always good and innocent and lovable in essence, and then to be told that my actions and pursuits in life should honor this goodness, cultivate it, rely on it, celebrate it and serve to share it and amplify it in others. Nobody told me that.
And perhaps this topic is much more complex, and there are excellent theories in psychology or sociology that frame this much more brilliantly and comprehensively. But this is how I see it and how I have experienced it. This is it, the pain and the drama and a stumbling block of my life as an adult today. I struggle every single day in the course of last 5 years, as I run-out of pillars and cool attributes that were holding my shield, my armors together. When there were no trophies and impressive accomplishments and expensive decorations to carry around and show off, I have realized in horror, for the first time in more than 30 years that THEY, (other people and their opinions and judgments) have been ruling my life. It is them whom I have given the absolute power and authority to decide on whether I can and will feel worthy or good enough. I have made them an absolute authority with the power to make a final verdict on where I stand and just how much love, approval, sense of worth and value I can get. THEY might not even exist or know about this crucial role and responsibilities I have endowed them with. One thing I can tell you is that is sucks to be dependent on them, and to feel like the CORE inside of you on which you rely is made of chips and blocks and shiny objects that are very shabby and unreliable. It is very scary to realize that you have worked so hard for years, collecting those shiny chips and trophies to build that core that made you feel so good, but which (apparently) melts like an ice cream on a hot asphalt.
So the challenge for me, today, is to find that inner core. To dis-cover that CORE which I know is there. To remember the feeling, this warm and pleasant feeling of gladness and fullness just to be me as me. For me, this realization I seek also goes hand-in-hand with accepting responsibility. I am responsible for the formulas, conditions, set of rules and requirements which I have accepted and imposed on myself, all of which I DECIDED need to be met and fulfilled before I WILL AGREE to like myself, or I ALLOW myself to experience and to feel my worth and value. In other words, the biggest challenge is to take full responsibility first, in order to gain my power back. To understand, to convince myself that no matter how powerful their opinion and the need I had to please and impress them may seem, it has been my decision and my choice all along.
I can see these inner doors and cupboard shelves within me. Behind every such door is hidden a feeling, a thought, a quality. Sense of joy, feeling beautiful, sense of enoughness, feeling attractive and loveable, a talent that could be expressed, a truth which could be shared – are all already THERE/WITHIN me. However, I am sitting and waiting for a job, for a good salary, for a better car, to loose 10 kilograms, such and such person to like me or to be interested in me for me to be able TO UNLOCK that door and to give myself a PERMISSION to enjoy and experience that INNER FEELING that I am after…. Even though the keychain, with the heavy bundle of various keys is already in my hands, I put it aside next to me, and INSIST that I shall not even try to open that door and play with that feeling or quality (& try it on), unless and until I bring in some trophy, some accomplishment, some expensive accessory or a compliment/validation from someone cool before I can do it.
How strange and twisted it is to choose to believe, to blindly insist that our permission to experience that joy and love WITHIN should only be possible through arranging and accomplishing a set of events and conditions outside of ourselves, or through making THEM give us permission?
Why is now not a right time to change this?