Okay. It’s time to get real. One of the things I really struggle with in my life is my own sense of worth. And you know, listing out all my accomplishments doesn’t help. Listing my skills and talents isn’t a useful exercise here, because the list could be a mile long and it still wouldn’t touch my sense of unworthiness. Because it’s not rational, so you can reason with it. No feeling is, but this deeply held belief isn’t either.
It helps, a little, to know where it comes from. For me, it’s from childhood trauma that I’m only really starting to dig into and honestly, I wouldn’t have even bothered if this belief weren’t firmly tied to my migraines and why I still occasionally get them and how I can get them gone. If it weren’t for the intense pain that comes along for the ride, I might have just shrugged and said ‘Meh, it’s fine. I don’t need a sense of self-worth to be high functioning. Let’s move on.’
Spoiler Alert: Whenever I say it’s fine, it’s not fine. It is very specifically not fine, when I say it’s fine. Every time. Out loud. In my head. Doesn’t matter. It’s my own personal rhetorical red flag that my subconscious uses and you’d think I’d notice it more by now, but no one let me download a user’s guide with the body I was given, so I’ve had to figure it out the hard way.
Anyway, I bring up the idea of self-worth, because next week in my newsletter I’ve got a great quote I’m reflecting on from Stephen Chbosky, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” And I think that’s absolutely true: we accept love, goodness, success, happiness, all the good of the universe in direct proportion to what we think we deserve, or if you will, our self-worth.
It makes me think of stories I’ve heard of people (sometimes directly from them, sometimes from a third party) of being poor, but being so dang happy. Of going through difficult times, but being so dang happy. And those fabulous scientists who actually study happiness note that while not having enough to produce the essentials of life does deter happiness, beyond that money isn’t tied to happiness. Health is a closer indicator, and good, healthy relationships an even better one. Which makes me think of the connect between happiness/joy with self-worth. It isn’t that only the worthy can be happy. It’s perhaps that we can be as happy as we think we deserve to be.
But our sense of self-worth can change for the better and for the worse.
Mine, tied as it is to childhood trauma, gets better as I work to heal that original trauma. And my healing process involves talking to safe people, doing a lot of energy work (qigong in particular), doing work to release the fascia (block therapy is my chosen method), and a tremendous amount of meditation based in forgiveness and gratitude.
Your mileage will necessarily vary, but if you’re looking at your life and admitting that there might be some very small issues with self-worth, there are things you can do, too. And it starts with talking to someone – a friend, a mentor, a therapist. Pick your companion and start your journey!
I’m studying the ways emotion unexpressed or diverted may trigger physical symptoms. Fascinating how I can read about it, but that intellectual, top-down understanding isn’t enough. Still have to feel the feelings.