Gather ’round. Let’s talk about worthiness, cause, let’s face it, we’re all unworthy. Or at least it seems that’s the fear that’s operating in the background.
My own sense of self-worth is directly correlated to how much I do for others and the degree to which I take personal responsibility for alleviating their pain.
If I am really useful, you’ll love me. And you’ll stay. This totally inaccurate assessment of my worth is bloody exhausting and deeply disheartening.
Some measure worth by accomplishments. By the results they’re getting, by the attention they receive, the positive strokes, the good-on-yas and atta-boys. Others measure their worth by their skills, ability to show up, produce, and be effective, creative, caring or consistent. Maybe you’re worthy because you’re pleasing your parents or God or the shareholders. Maybe you’re worthy because you endure suffering for others, or stay openhearted or fearless. Maybe you’re worthy because you look airbrushed in real life or dine with important names.
I have to be honest, I don’t really know how one could or should measure self-worth. It seems to me that this is innate and equal among all of us. And yet, what we also seem to share, in addition all being beings worthy of love and care and rights and freedom, is the feeling or fear that perhaps we’re not worthy.
This following practice isn’t about claiming your worth or accepting yourself or building your confidence. It’s simply about waking up to your own unique way of measuring your worthiness, and by the very nature of this being an immeasurable thing, waking up to your unique way of reinforcing your experience of unworthiness.
Practice: Throughout the day, notice what you do, say, or pay attention to in order to feel adequate or worthy.
See if you can catch on to specific behaviours or recurring fears that have you struggle toward feeling good enough.
See if you can name this to yourself in the moment it’s happening and even feel where in your body this ‘unworthiness’ lives. If you can feel in your body where this sense of inadequacy or unworthiness lives, put your hands here. If you can’t, put one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly. Take a few deep breaths, staying with the feeling without moving with the action or impulse to prove or reinforce your worth.
For me, it’s in moments when I feel I need to live up to someone’s expectation, or I’m afraid of fucking up. I feel it in my throat. I can feel it right now, in fact, burning in the background like static noise, ‘will this practice be useful enough?’
I will NEVER alleviate everyone’s suffering. I will NEVER meet everyone’s expectations and the more I engage in this loop, the more I try, without knowing when to stop, the sicker and more depleted I could get and the less I’d be able to show up for those and that which is most important to me.
The point of recognizing this, is that the very thing we chase that we believe will bolster our self-worth, is the very thing that reinforces our fears of worthlessness. If we can see it and stay with it and even share it with others in a trusted space (as I’m doing on retreat right now with six other Integral Coaches,) we can start to see this way of assessing how we’re doing or what we’re worth as not only inaccurate, but as simply a mechanism to our humanity that needn’t hold the hook it currently holds. From there, our behaviours can be an expression of joy, freedom, love or whatever actually fuels us and others, rather than a clamouring and scratching for our acceptable place in the world.
May this practice be useful to you. (And may my own sense of self worth not be impacted either way.)
Much Love to you all.