How easy it is to forget that my self-worth has nothing to do with what I create or don’t create, inside or outside of me. I recognize that I still have beliefs running that I am unworthy because (fill in the blank). My latest proof of unworthiness is my shyness.
I occasionally find myself feeling less than in a group of people. Everyone else looks like they are speaking so freely and naturally. I find myself feeling self-conscious, wanting to share but not knowing what to say. I then believe thoughts that I am less than because I am not contributing. The more I buy into the limiting beliefs, the worse I feel, and the harder it is for me to think of something to share. It becomes a negative reinforcement cycle, and I can feel very uncomfortable in these situations.
We all have times in our lives when we feel insecure. No one is immune from feeling uncomfortable. Previously, in my striving for perfection, I thought I could banish insecurity from my life. That was how I thought I could earn my worth. I didn’t need to prove my worth through accumulating money, that would have been a much more practical misunderstanding, with perhaps some useful upside. Instead, I innocently decided I needed to earn my worth by not feeling insecure.
I believed I could eradicate this uncomfortable experience from my consciousness through vigilance and diligence. As you can imagine, my lack of success in this endeavor would only further prove my unworthiness and made me feel more insecure. It is funny to reflect on now, but I was quite serious at the time. I wore myself out trying to achieve an impossible goal through various self-help strategies, constantly seeking like a junkie, thinking one more fix would do it.
The difference now is that I don’t feel unworthy, when I feel unworthy. That is not a typo. I have room for my feelings of unworthiness, insecurity, and self-doubt. I might not like feeling that way. I certainly prefer feeling relaxed, confident, and at ease, but now I recognize I can have space in my heart for my weaknesses, frailties, and personality failings.
I don’t need to judge myself for judging myself. I can take my negative thoughts less seriously. My weaknesses simply reflect how I behave when I am gripped by limiting thoughts. They show up when I am temporarily unable to wake up from the illusion of my personal thinking that my consciousness brings to life.
Before, I thought letting go of judgments meant that I would never feel insecure again. I believed I could reach the promised land of emotional bliss in which my peace would not be disturbed. Just like someone might think they will feel good enough when they have ten million in the bank, or when their book is a New York Times bestseller, or when they marry that person, or have that child, or buy that house, or land that job, etc., I thought I could arrive at a human experience in which I did not feel certain feelings such as insecurity and fear, and then I would be fine.
The truth is, just as there is nothing out there that can give me an inner experience of well being, there is also, nothing inwardly I can do that will give me freedom from my humanness. It was easy for me to see that external success is not the source of my well being, but it was harder for me to recognize that happiness is not the source of my peace of mind.
I knew my bank account wasn’t going to prove my self-worth, but I didn’t realize that my emotional state wasn’t going to do it either. I thought I was unworthy if I had bad feelings, and that I needed to work at only having good feelings. Fortunately, I eventually realized this wasn’t true because I certainly wasn’t having any success at conquering bad feelings. In fact, my attempts to vanquish the unpleasant feelings seemed to bring them more fully to life. Like zombies, they multiplied in the face of my resistance and attempts at annihilation.
What I have learned is there is a level of consciousness available inside of me that has room for all of my thoughts and feelings without being disturbed or diminished in any way. I can have a level of understanding that has a depth of compassion for what is — no matter what. Peace can be present in the midst of upset. I can feel unworthy and experience my wholeness at the same time.
It doesn’t make sense intellectually, but it can be felt experientially. There is a spaciousness within each one of us to experience it all. Whether it be external challenges and blessings, or internal instability and bliss. We can be connected with the truth of who we are while experiencing our humanness.
As one of my teacher’s, Dr. Mary R. Hulnick, says, “Growth is a process, not an event.” I have not arrived anywhere, but in the process of my awakening, I am experiencing a freedom that is very different than I imagined. I thought my salvation would come through transforming my insecurities so they no longer existed. Instead, my liberation is in embracing the parts of me I rejected and unconditionally accepting my humanness.
It is like the famous optical illusion. Do I see the old woman or the young lady? From one perspective, I see flaws. From another perspective, I see the wholeness of who I AM. It is the same picture. Nothing changes but how I see it. The shift in perception; however, changes everything. As Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
My heartfelt wish for you is that you see yourself through the perception of love and embrace all of you. Remember, there is seeing, and then there is seeing through the eyes of the heart.