“Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.”
~Rachel Naomi Remen
Note: This post was inspired by a TED talk by researcher Brene Brown called “The Power of Vulnerability.” Please watch it if your beliefs about your perceived failings, faults, and imperfections are holding you back. Isn’t now the time to end the suffering of unworthiness?
There is something that plagues so many of us, and it breaks my heart. Call it low self-esteem, shame, or the inner critic – it doesn’t matter what the name is. What matters is that we secretly feel unworthy, and we are afraid to take the risk to let others see us as we are. We harbor pernicious beliefs that bombard us with insults that we would never, in a million years, say to someone else.
The result? We feel disconnected, alienated, separate, and alone.
We live our lives in the proverbial closet, believing that if we let ourselves be seen, we would be summarily rejected.
Then, we close ourselves off, feeling lonely even when we’re surrounded by people. We numb ourselves from these painful feelings of unworthiness by eating and drinking too much, overspending, and staying insanely busy.
We get lost in a cycle of thinking and behaving that traps us into feeling even more isolated. We may even pretend that things are OK, while our soul screams in desperation.
Longing for Freedom
And all we want is to be happy. We want to be joyful and fulfilled, grateful and connected. We want to relax into our lives and put down all the effort it takes to keep ourselves safe.
I understand that your story is a sad one. You developed this mindset of unworthiness because you were rejected, abandoned, or mistreated. I am so sorry for the pain you have experienced.
But this is your life and your time. You can take responsibility for your feelings. You can learn to be compassionate toward yourself. You can be more open. And you can thrive – yes, you.
A Roadmap Out of Unworthiness
If you want to feel alive, if you want to unchain yourself from the cycle of not good enough, follow these breadcrumbs to freedom.
- Don’t stay locked into the past. Somehow you have concluded that you are lacking because of how other people reacted toward you. If you let your mind run wild, it will keep repeating this story forever. Now is the time to let the past go. Every time these thoughts appear, don’t give them energy. Let them float by like clouds across the sky. Focus instead on the life-force that is present now.
- Challenge your beliefs about yourself. Get to know your version of self-critical thoughts – I’m stupid, I can’t succeed, I will be laughed out, I’m unlovable. None of these thoughts holds a grain of truth. Not one iota. Recognize that they play in your mind as an endless loop that limits your capacity for happiness. They don’t serve you, so let them be and move on. Let your troublesome identities fall away.
- End the violence. We reject ourselves and each other in so many gross and subtle ways. End the violence now by being kind toward your own thoughts and feelings. Treat yourself like gold. Find a generous space in your heart that is available to receive everything that arises in you without exception.
- Be willing to be free. By now, your unworthiness is probably a friend of sorts. Imagine that this identity, this way of being you know so well, disappears. Poof! Things would look very different to you. Have the courage to step out into the unknown and be free of what holds you back.
- Risk rejection. Yes, you read that correctly – risk rejection. If you don’t want to be trapped by unworthiness any longer, put yourself out there. Don’t act like the shrinking violet or the know-it-all. Be your whole, radiant, magnificent, awkward, scared, quirky self. Some people may shy away, but others will be drawn to your gorgeous authenticity. And you will know that they love you as you are.
- Access your natural resilience. You have what it takes to heal this unworthiness. How do I know? Humans naturally gravitate toward wholeness and peace. Be willing to heal. Be willing to live in the totality of you – that means all of you. Create a momentum and keep it going.
- Start small. Take one situation or encounter and approach it without the cloak of unworthiness. Do experiments. Stretch the edges of your comfort zone just a little. And don’t be discouraged. Keep at it – your happiness hangs in the balance.
- Rinse and repeat. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said, “But I’ve done that, and I still feel the same way.” The goal is not to eliminate thoughts and feelings. Rather, bring a loving presence to them. See them, acknowledge them, then let them pass by while you stay stable in the fullness of your being. Do this every time they arise, and eventually they will soften. The pattern of unworthiness might have been with you for decades. Be patient. Give it time, and loving attention, and it will loosen its grip.
The opportunity is here, in this very moment, for happiness, peace, expansion, clarity, aliveness. There is no need to keep living in this secret hell. If you feel you are flawed and lacking, own it. Learn how to work intelligently with this experience. Ground yourself in the truth, and let the world see your shining face.
Feeling not good enough? Have you found your way through it? I’d love to hear…