My car lease expired at the end of last month so I went into the dealership after a good friend found me an amazing deal. Everything was completed ahead of time. I just needed to do the swap. Or so I thought. I forgot about the time in the finance office. When I was reminded of this, I walked into the finance office braced and ready for the reams of papers to sign. I sat down in the black vinyl chair ready for the task.
Then I was taken aback. Rather than a get down to business start. I was greeted with a huge smile as the first paper was presented to me. It was a copy of my credit score. I was told very exuberantly, “You have an EXCELLENT credit rating.” I could see this met with significant approval on the financer’s end. And, I noticed a feeling of pride surface within me. It was pleasurable. I felt approved of. I was a good girl. I measured up. But as this wave of feeling washed over me, I noticed something else. I was independent of it. I watched it. I did briefly attach to it, but then I stepped back within myself and just allowed it to flow.
I have done this with negative feelings previously. I have watched sadness or anger rise and fall within me without reacting to the experience or making meaning about it. But this is the first time I remember noticing this with a “good” feeling. And what I realized was is this so-called good feeling that I would have enjoyed in the past was being experienced by me as a disturbance. For a minute or so my feelings of worth felt like they were connected to a number on a piece of paper. Until I realized it was a setup and remembered this isn’t true.
And the feeling of identifying with external validation was actually not as good as the feeling of peace and comfort in my own skin that preceded it. I had just been waiting at the dealership with nothing on my mind definitely not any thoughts about my worthiness.
What stood out to me from this experience is that I recognized that wellbeing is just being. Wellbeing is not an emotion that comes and goes. It has nothing to do with psychological experience. It is a space you fall into when you are not consumed with your thoughts. I fell into it in the car dealership and then was briefly seduced out of it by the idea that my worth was attached to a number on a piece of paper. I then I fell back into it again when I SAW the folly of identifying with thoughts that were telling me I was good because of a number. Because if I was good with one number that would mean I would be bad with another number. And that can’t be true. That is all arbitrary.
It felt nice to be just a little freer from my idea that my worth can be externally validated. In the past, I have been a slave to external validation. I’m sure I will still get pulled into it again, but at that moment it was liberating for my feeling of okayness to be not attached to anything outside of myself.
And my feeling state is the guide to what direction I am looking in. When I look outside of myself for validation, even when I get it, the feeling is not the same as when I look in the direction of my essential nature and experience peace of mind and wellbeing. Previously, I would not have been interested in the difference. Any respite from feeling unworthy would have been welcome even if were only temporary.
The greater freedom, however, from the temporary up that can only be followed by the down of disappointment when the glow of validations wears off, comes from recognizing the difference between a temporary feeling state and the feeling of experiencing who you are. My experience of my beingness might come and go depending on my state of mind, but it is my experience of it that changes not the feeling itself. It is a feeling of coming home to a space within that is always there. I just don’t always recognize it.
However, even without living there 100% of the time, recognizing the experience of who you are on the essential level puts the ups and downs of the human emotional experience into perspective so they shrink down to size and become more manageable.
I am not against pleasure, and I know that pain and suffering are part of the human experience, but knowing the space within that is neither of these and so beautiful, comforting and reassuring makes it so much easier to enjoy the pleasure without it meaning anything about me and to be kind to myself in the lows knowing they don’t mean anything about me either.
I realize now that in the past, because of my resistance to feelings of insecurity and unworthiness and my desire to change that experience, I used to look to find ways to experience myself as good enough through validation and appreciation. At home, at school, at work, in relationships… I would have the experience of feeling good enough when I identified my worth and value with the external approval of the A grade, the compliment, or whatever validation was on offer. And, I would feel the pain of its loss when it didn’t last because nothing was enough to stop me from identifying with my thoughts of unworthiness and not measuring up. I didn’t realize then that me feeling good and me feeling bad were really just two different experiences coming from the same misidentification within myself that bad feelings are a problem and that the concept of worth is a real thing that needs to be earned and achieved.
Worthiness and self-esteem are concepts that make sense when they look like the solution to the suffering we feel when we identify with thoughts of not being good enough. And that is what keeps us on the roller coaster of seeking out the good and eliminating the bad. The unending path of self-improvement that is more like a hamster wheel than a trail to a summit — there is no arrival.
The only option that makes sense is to get off the hamster wheel and SEE for yourself that you — being — is more than enough. And anytime it doesn’t feel like that whether it be that you feel you are worthy because of something or unworthy because of something that is a misunderstanding.
What is true? Only you can experience that for yourself through looking within. And it is in that experience that it becomes easier to discern the difference between a temporary state of pleasure and the deeper feeling of wellbeing.
You are there frequently. It is ordinary and commonplace. Each one of us drops out of our identification with thoughts every day. We might not notice these experiences because they are so ordinary and normal.
Like the way I felt at the car dealership when I was waiting. I naturally fell into a state of being. And then I identified with a thought that I need to be more than just being and it took me out the feeling of wellbeing. For me to notice this is progress. I would only notice when some level of suffering came along before.
When you feel who you are at your essence and recognize that experience it is much easier to not be hoodwinked by external validation. It will not feel as good or satisfying compared to the feeling of you just being. Try it on for size and let me know what you see.
Rohini Ross is passionate about helping people wake up to their full potential. She is a transformative coach, leadership consultant, a regular blogger for Thrive Global, and author of the short-read Marriage (The Soul-Centered Series Book 1) available on Amazon. You can get her free eBook Relationships here. Rohini has an international coaching and consulting practice based in Los Angeles helping individuals, couples, and professionals embrace all of who they are so they can experience greater levels of well-being, resiliency, and success. She is also the founder of The Soul-Centered Series: Psychology, Spirituality, and the Teachings of Sydney Banks. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and watch her Vlogs with her husband. To learn more about her work go to her website, rohiniross.com.