I am borrowing from the research of Brené Brown as I work through my own process of cultivating courage and embracing vulnerability. Doing so, I can absolutely understand how perfectionism can keep us from trying, insisting that we are small and insignificant and won’t be able to do it right, and then if we are able to compassionately move through that tricky space, we are hit with the other end and slapped with self-talk that says we’ve become too big for our own britches and should go ahead and take a seat somewhere small, not out here with us truly courageous folks. Shame works as a vice that keeps us small and stuck. Again, Brené’s work, giving credit here, check out her stuff.
Somewhere in my life I ended up getting humility confused with thinking nothing of myself, or frankly, very poorly of myself, which doesn’t bode well for cultivating an adult sense of worth. I learned through years of struggle that it felt empowering to strive and achieve, but then I also confused this idea of worthiness, a thing conditional upon achievement and doing. I felt I was worthy of belonging because of the things I had achieved, my resilience based on actions, successes, accomplishments, degrees, jobs, titles, appearance, and image.
If there was one bit of wisdom that I could give my 20 or 30-year-old self, it would be a tender reminder that I am worthy of love and belonging simply by virtue of the fact that I am. I am enough, just as I am, without changing a damn thing. It is a practice to believe this. I still believe in the value of hard work and healthy striving, of accomplishments that are earned, but these things are built on top of worthiness that is already inherently present. I remind myself daily to soften into the concept and practice of compassion. Life will be unfair and it doesn’t owe me a thing…and I am worthy. Happiness and love are wonderful and can be fleeting or withdrawn, and I am still worthy. I will make mistakes by those I love, and I am worthy of love. I am genuinely doing the best I can, this will have to be enough, is enough, and I am enough. I often need help with disbelief, because there are days and times when I doubt this concept for myself, but am happy to preach it to clients and hold it true for everyone else. In these moments I try to remember again to soften, lean in, be gentle with myself. I then notice the outpouring of love and compassion to fiends, family, and clients flows more freely. This is true. This is a practice. I am often able to pay attention on purpose, it’s adding a sense of warmth and worth that can be challenging.
I wish you all a new year filled with love and compassion. Let’s practice together. I’d love to hear your stories and practices on developing and deepening your sense of worthiness.