Today I had plans to write about fear, but I listened to this podcast by Lone Doctrine called “When You Feel Unworthy” and it really got me thinking about how I often feel unworthy.
You see, it’s very interesting as you begin to explore your mind and find words that describe the things you’ve felt or thought about yourself for so long. I would never have identified with feeling unworthy had it not been for listening to this podcast and reflecting on the things I believe I don’t deserve or think about how “unspecial” I often feel.
I look forward to talking to you about fear in the near future because I think it has a lot to do with why I feel unworthy. It is amazing how so many topics about human mentality really blend into one another.
I started my therapy session last Friday by saying, “I’m quickly realizing how everyone is really just (I used a bad word that I won’t use here that starts with F and ends in UCKED) up.”
She laughed and nodded. I mean, as a therapist I realize she can entirely relate to what I am saying. She asked if I had ever heard of Alfred Adler (and if you’re anything like me you’ll want to know who this Alfred is, so I’ve linked that here). Among his many insightful quotes, he says, “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know well.”
“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know well.” -Alfred Adler
We continued our discussion about schemas from the previous week which led me into telling her about the podcast previously mentioned about being unworthy. Again, isn’t it funny how this concept mimics others so much?
Nikki starts her podcast with a story about a man who grew up with an abusive father, mentally and physically. His father continuously told him and showed him that he was unworthy – not good enough. And as a child, we seek approval from our parents. Especially the parent of the same sex as you. When they show you that you are not worthy of their attention, appreciation, or approval, they teach you that you are not worthy of anyone or anything.
- Whether it was a parent who told you, “You made a B. I expected better from you.”
- Or a coach that screamed about your terrible pitching in front of all your peers.
- A boss who criticized a project you were proud of and worked extremely hard on.
- Or yourself, because you’ve learned all of your life that you are not good enough, you could have done better, or the other kids perform better than you, you’ve learned negative self – talk because of your experiences.
It was extremely difficult for me to define worthy when Louisa asked me to. Worthy of what? I ask.
Worthy of love, attention, respect, to live?
To me, worthy is the main heading and it has many sub-headings. To me, worthy is just something that is naturally given to all people. I’ve never even had to stop and think, “Is this person worthy?” Of course, they are.
And that tendency to give someone their basic human right made it difficult to define.
When I break it down to smaller sub-headings though, it gets a bit easier. Worthiness is the belief that you deserve the best the world has to offer you. It’s the understanding that you have a place in this world and the world would be at a loss if you didn’t fill that void.
But, I’ll leave the defining to you.
We have to control the thoughts we have about ourselves
Negative self-talk comes in many different forms. There’s a whole list of cognitive distortions! The ones I struggle with are minimization and should statements (just to name two of them).
Minimization is not allowing yourself to appreciate the greatness that you are!! When I get complimented I tend to list off the reasons why the compliment doesn’t apply to me.
These are often:
- They don’t genuinely mean that compliment
- Anyone could do what I did to receive this compliment
- I didn’t do that much
- I’m nothing to write home about (anyone else use this saying?)
Shoulda, coulda, woulda! Another cognitive thinking I do is should statements. I was especially bad at this before therapy.
- “I should want to be a CEO.”
- “I should have got this project done faster.”
- “I should make more of an effort to network with people.”
- “I should be a more compassionate friend.”
There is a very thin line between accepting that you are enough and enough is perfect and striving to be a better person and to grow.
We should all analyze the area of our lives we would like to make better and take steps to improve ourselves, but at the same time, we should also know that the person you are now is also great.
I’m preaching to the choir here. I started this blog think I wasn’t worthy of giving people advice on their anxiety. I’m simply telling my story and sharing what I have learned and am learning. And because I am sharing with you, I am gaining so much therapeutic benefit!
If I wasn’t able to get past this feeling of unworthiness, the dream I have of helping someone else through a trying time could not have come true. The dream I have of having a successful blog that touches many would not have come true (this is still a goal haha).
Feelings of unworthiness will not only prevent you from moving forward on the dreams you’ve created for yourself, but it will also prevent you from accepting gifts from others. If someone you admire gives you a compliment, you may discount their compliment and feed into the schema that you are not worthy. Your boss may promote you to a higher title, but because of your belief about yourself and the way you interpret your accomplishments, you don’t feel like you are qualified (or worthy) of the new position.
You just can’t accept the things from others that don’t fit into your understanding of yourself. But you see, the fault with mirrors is they show you the opposite of how you look. Your right is your left in the mirror and your left is your right.
Just because what you see in the mirror looks like you, doesn’t mean that’s how other people see you. If your goal in life is to be the best version of yourself and you are walking toward that, you are enough. And if you are enough for everyone else, you should certainly be enough for yourself.
The Four B's of Saul Levine
Saul Levine wrote this article on Psychology Today about what he calls the “Four B’s” and this is how I would interpret those.
1 // Being
Being is essentially who you see yourself as in this world. Are you proud of the person you’ve become and are becoming? Are you proud of how you treat others? How you behave? How you spend your time?
Are you satisfied with your place in this world?
Do you look at everything that has created you, be that accomplishments, relationships, or mistakes and said thank you for making me who I am today?
2 // Belonging
Belonging is more of an external influence on “self”. Being involved in a community of like-minded people that share your beliefs, end goals, and interests validate you. You feel wanted and accepted by your tribe, which gives you a sense of belonging in the world.
I’d like to add in purpose here. If you have a sense of purpose to those you interact with and work with, then you also feel like you belong and are needed. At least I do. I know I am contributing more and not only here to serve myself.
3 // Believing
Believing in something that is bigger than us gives us hope that our lives are more than the material and temporary of our time here. I’m sure you’ve gone to dark places before about how short your time on Earth is and what comes after.
If you believe in something more, then you naturally have values and ethical beliefs that you hold. I think most of us strive to be “good” people and that means treating others (human or any other living creature) with respect and value.
4 // Benevolence
I know that when I am kind and giving, I feel great, fulfilled even. It is a natural tendency of humans. Look at how a mother cares for her child, with tenderness and patience. And how a father protects and teaches. It’s what we crave from one another and it’s what we give.
Now on to the reasons you are WORTHY
When we are born – when anyone or anything is born – we are bestowed this magical inheritance of worthiness. No one but you can take this away, and even then you haven’t removed this innate quality from yourself, you have just stored it away in a tiny box.
The very fact that you exist gives you worthiness. Not your parents, not your friends, not the amount of money you make, not the title of your job.
You must claim this worthiness for yourself and not accept anything other than this from anyone else.
This is easy to say, I know. I can tell you to accept it, but how can you when you may not fully understand what it really is? That’s why I want you to take the time right now to sit down with a pen and paper, a laptop, a tablet – however you record your thoughts and answer these prompts.
1 // What is my definition of worthy – do I agree with Joshlyne that there are sub-headings to this word? If so, identify those and define them.
2 // What attributes about myself do I love the most? Kindness, integrity, drive, compassion, understanding?
3 // Do those attributes make me worthy of self-love? And if you say yes to this question, which I truly hope you do, then you are worthy. You can now open your box, take out that crown, and place it back on your head.
BECAUSE YOU ARE WORTHY.