There once was a child that entered into the world a beautiful perfect human being. It had spent the last nine months inside its mother’s womb, growing from a tiny speck of a cell and forming into an amazing little person without any judgement, help or input from anyone else. It was perfect and no one would ever deny that this child was born 100% worthy.
That little baby was you!
But as this baby grew up in the world, she looked around her and began observing the other people in her life and what was going on around her and as she began to interpret what was happening. She realised that just being wasn’t enough. She realized that there were certain things that she had to do, things she had to be and things she had to prove in order to keep this 100% worth and feel good about herself.
If she smiled, then this seemed to please people around her and that made her feel good. As she got older she realized that when she did the right thing, again she made people smile, received approval from others and felt good about herself. But when she made a mistake, or didn’t do the right thing, there were harsh consequences for that. People would criticize her, punish her or call her names, which did not make her feel very good at all.
As life unfolded for this child, she learnt that in order to be a good person she needed to be accepted by her family, and eventually her friends. In order to do this, she had to be a certain person. So she began to attach her self-worth to labels, hold expectations of herself, and attempt to control and manipulate her world so that she could fit in, gain approval and live up to these labels in order to be accepted by her community. These labels were characteristics of herself or achievements that made her look better to the world, which in turn made her feel good about herself.
Over time these labels would come and go, depending on her age and her surroundings and as she got older this habit of her worth being defined by her labels and achievements grew stronger and she learnt that the only way to maintain her worth was through approval, acceptance and being this good and successful person.
She learnt that the only way to be a good and successful person was if she was happy and she got her life right, otherwise something was going wrong and she would be unable to have that perfect life or be the good/successful person she wanted to be.
Slowly over the years, more and more conditions were set as to what determined this good, worthy person that she now needed to be. She began to fear any situations that may pose as a threat to her not feeling like she was worthy and not being seen as a good person. More and more time was spent unconsciously controlling her life so that she could avoid feeling like a bad person because that caused her too much pain.
So she spent her life attaching her self-worth to how her life was unfolding, continually riding this roller coaster of feeling good about herself when life was meeting her expectations of good and bad, and then feeling bad about herself when it wasn’t meeting these expectations.
As life progressed, she would attempt to control her life so that she was able to maintain an acceptable level of feeling okay about herself, only occasionally feeling bad, and was generally able to keep up this mediocre feeling about herself.
But at one stage of her life (or periodically) she would feel as if she couldn’t do it any longer. More and more evidence would come into her life that proved how she was failing at being that good person or being able to live up to those labels and achievements that made her acceptable to the world and she started to feel like she was failing at life.
Periodically she would be able to take back control of those situations by setting goals and getting life to go right again, but she would be anxious about it all going wrong again. Despite endless efforts to control her life to keep achieving these expectations she had learnt to live up to, things would continually go wrong, making her feel like a failure again.
This became the cycle of her life which some people called Depression. Her self-worth had deteriorated to being very low, or maybe even non-existent.
She began to see herself as a failure – someone who was failing at life (or failing at a particular area of her life). Because it was too painful to keep feeling like a failure she would stop trying to do things in that area of her life, so that she could avoid feeling like a failure.
However, what she didn’t realise was that she wasn’t a failure at all. In fact, her self-worth had never changed. It had merely been clouded by all the judgements, criticisms, labels, need to achieve, need to be approved of or accepted and trying to get life right. All of these thoughts came from her beliefs – incorrect beliefs that were set up early on in her life.
In order to stop the Depression, all she needed to do was learn new beliefs, rediscover what true self-worth was and why no matter what was happening in her life, she would always be valuable and worthwhile just by being alive.
Why you are always 100% worthy just the way you are
Knowing that you are 100% worthwhile can be one of the hardest beliefs to get your head around because all of that conditioning clouds your true inherent value.
The most important part to this reality step is to understand that a lack of self-worth lies at the core of all stress, including depression and anxiety.
The incorrect belief is that only when I can meet certain expectations (that is, get life right) can I be valuable. So if I don’t live the way I ‘should’ and if I’m on the ‘wrong’ path, then this means something about me. For depression, it simply means ‘I am a failure’.
However, we have already learnt that the reality of life is that we cannot always get life to go to plan. Sometimes things go differently than how we expected them too, so does this mean that we can only be worthy when something is going right? That would mean that no one is 100% worthy.
But we don’t look at other people that way do we?. Take the closest person you know and I wouldn’t imagine that you would think they are worth-less. However, they don’t always get life to go right, so why are they still worthy yet you are not? The answer is because you have not attached your worth to them getting life right. You have only attached your worth to getting your life right because that is what you have learnt to measure your value by.
The reality of self-worth, however, is that you are always 100% worthwhile. Your worth comes from your very existence. In every moment of your life you are always giving a part of yourself to the world around you. You interact with others and influence their lives and become part of their journey. Other people learn from you and your knowledge that has come from your experiences, and this knowledge helps their lives to unfold the way it does. You do this with family, friends and even strangers that you may just smile at, or scowl at even.
Every single moment of your life is contributing to the life of someone else either directly or indirectly. Now as you travel along your unique journey through life you get more information from your experiences, you grow as a person and you further share who you are with other people. You are continuously contributing to other peoples’ lives as you grow and learn in yours. At the same time, other people are continually contributing to your life, your experiences, your learning and how your life unfolds. In turn this continues the cycle of you then contributing back to other people from your new experiences. And thus the circle of life continues.
Every one of us is worthy because of our very existence and because of the learning and contributing that we all do for one another. You are no exception. You are a very important part of the world, simply because you are in it and contributing who you are to humanity.
You agree that a newborn baby has 100% worth. Why? Because he/she exists. You don’t say to this baby “You have to be a certain weight to be valuable”, or “you didn’t come out of my womb in the right way, so you are worth-less”. No, you don’t say that. You accepted this little baby just as he/she was – because of their existence.
Your worth has not changed. You have always been worthy because of your existence and the only thing that has changed, has been your belief about yourself, because you have adopted the beliefs of others who have also been conditioned to believe that achievements and getting life right, defines self-worth.
However, if you took you out of the equation of life the world changes. No longer do people interact with you and get the learning that they get off you and no longer do they experience you in their lives. This changes how their life unfolds.
Have you ever seen the movie Sliding Doors starring Gwenyth Paltrow? It shows two ways her life could have gone all because of a little boy dropping a toy on the steps of the train station when she was trying to catch the train (or something like that). In one scenario, the boy does not drop the toy and she manages to catch her train. In the other scenario, she has to stop momentarily because of the boy and she misses the train. When she catches the train, she gets home to find her boyfriend cheating on her and in the other scenario where she misses the train, she doesn’t catch her boyfriend cheating and he continues to do so behind her back.
As the movie progresses you are shown how each scenario differed from the other with major differences in outcome. We are all playing the part of that little boy in someone else’s life in every moment. We are constantly influencing the way someone’s life unfolds, just by being who we are. You do that for people both directly and indirectly.
Just by being you, you contribute to using and paying for utilities, buying groceries, being a consumer, using trades and services, paying your car registration, driving your car, being a member of somewhere, going to work, being a mum or dad, being a wife or husband, being a sibling, being a daughter or son, going for a walk, even getting fish and chips for dinner. Everything you do adds to someone else’s life and their experiences in it that without you, wouldn’t happen or wouldn’t unfold the way it did.
Without you, your family wouldn’t be what it is. Without all of us contributing to buying groceries, there wouldn’t need to be grocery stores, therefore no farming and all those people would be out of work. If people didn’t drive their cars, there would be no need for roads or road maintenance and all those people would be out of work. Every one contributes to those things and each one of us contributes to a part of that whole. This is why your existence is so valuable, because without you, the world is a different place.
Look a little closer to home. If you begin to see all of the different ways that you are contributing to your home life, your children, your husband (or wife), your extended family, your friends, your work colleagues, you will see the important roles you play in your life that contribute to why you are worthy.
However, don’t think that these roles define your existence, for that kind of attachment is what has caused your stress in the first place. The point is that if you weren’t playing out these roles, then you would be playing some other role in your existence that was equally contributing to the unfolding of life.
It doesn’t matter what you are doing, you are always valuable because you are always learning from all of your experiences and contributing a piece of yourself to this world, impacting how life unfolds. When you understand this you no longer need to attach your self-worth to achievement, outcome, labels, or expectations, because you know that your worth is always intrinsic. It cannot be added to and it cannot be taken away, because you are always 100% worthy just by being alive.
Here is one example of how to apply this thinking in the context of parenting in the form of an ‘unnatural’ labour:
You may feel like you have failed because you have not been able to have a natural labour. Perhaps you had to have drugs, or a caesarean. Feeling like you have failed is you feeling worth-less. Perhaps you feel as if the midwife or doctor did not do something correctly and you blame them for your unnatural birth. Regardless of what the situation is, at the core of the story you are telling yourself about the labour, you will have some belief that now that the labour went this way, this means something about your life (‘I have failed at giving my child the best start to life. I was weak and couldn’t go without drugs. I’m supposed to be the decision maker for that innocent child because I am his mother and I should have demanded that the doctors let me have him naturally’). There could be many worth-less beliefs that you have about that situation, but here’s how you can look at that situation differently by aligning with the reality of self-worth:
By having the labour you had, you have contributed to the life of your child. He/she has had the experience of entering into the world the way they did (reality) and that has now formed part of your little one’s journey in life. It is not good or bad, just one experience of many that will be had on his life’s path. By having drugs or a caesarean, you have contributed to the learning and experience of the midwives who were administering the treatment. You contributed to your partner who was with you and watched you make the decisions that you did. He had an experience of labour just the way it was, which has affected his life in some way. You learnt information about your labour that you will undoubtedly share with other mothers, friends and family who will retain that information and possibly share your story with others, further influencing their experiences of motherhood. You never know how far your story will go and what affect it has on another person.
The point is that we won’t ever know how we affect other people, and we don’t need to. The only thing you need to know is that you are contributing to others and without you, their lives would be different. No better or worse, just different and so would yours without their influence on your life.
Looking at the reality of self-worth and understanding that no matter how life unfolds you are always 100% worthwhile because you are always learning and contributing to life, is the last phase of expanding your mindset to be in alignment with reality.
By the time you have come to this point on the reality thinking model, you have already accepted the reality of the situation, looked at the reality of being a parent and the reality of life in general, and now with the reality of self-worth, you are reminding yourself of what this situation really means about you, and that is essentially nothing bad, because you are always learning, growing and contributing to the flow of life through every experience you have, including the highs and the lows. This is what defines your worth.
The real changes that come with applying the reality of self-worth are when you ascertain how you are contributing by challenging that worth-less thinking that you have and looking for all those ways (as shown in the unnatural labour example) that you did contribute and learn, thereby maintaining your worth.
It is another way of finding the hidden good in the bad, except you are looking specifically at how you, as a human being, have given value to another, or how the experience has been valuable to your life.
As we continue through the week you are going to learn more about how to apply this new thinking about your worth to your life and to the many different issues that arise when you are feeling worth-less and like a failure.
Sometimes our ‘not good enough’ beliefs can be very strongly ingrained in our minds. We have spent years seeing our shortcomings and now you are being asked to stretch your mindset to looking at your value in a different way, a much more expanded way.
This week you are going to stop attaching your worth to how life unfolds and instead, begin acknowledging how life unfolding is contributing to why you are always 100% worthy.