Original Worthiness: Why Don't I Feel 'Enough'?
Seven tips to get that wonderful feeling of worthiness back.
Posted October 10, 2020 | Reviewed by Lybi Ma
Imagine a 2-year-old toddling around your living room, with a little chocolate pudding on his cheek and a big smile: Is this toddler thinking to himself, “How will I make it through another day?” No, of course not.
That is because he is still hanging on to the feeling of original worthiness, that feeling we all came into this world with, before any negative and shaming messages were said to us.
Here’s a story: A few years ago, I was at the beach with our teenage daughter. It wasn’t much of a beach day so we were able to sprawl across a blanket comfortably. As our daughter looked up from her rather large anthropology textbook, she noticed a baby girl of about 14 months toddling over in our direction, doing her very best to navigate walking on the sand. She plunked herself down right in the middle of the blanket and proceeded to flip through the pages of our daughter’s anthropology textbook, seemingly interested in the colorful tribes of New Guinea. She then stuck her pudgy, sandy little fist into our daughter’s bag of goldfish crackers.
This 14-month-old knew with full confidence, as in without an ounce of doubt, that she would be welcomed and cherished (which of course, she was).
Watching our new little friend happily eating her fistful of crackers, had me immediately reflecting on how many of us are walking around in our 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond, trying so hard to get back what this baby girl had naturally. That feeling of original worthiness.
What happened? How is this feeling lost?
The answer is shame, an excruciating feeling of somehow being flawed and defective. After years of hearing negative and often shameful messages, many of us have internalized these and they have now become part of our programming. These messages are in our hard-drive. And, not only have we come to believe these messages, we often actively and unconsciously seek to reaffirm them. This not only affects how we think and feel about ourselves but also has a direct impact on how others treat us. Shame attracts more shame. Like a magnet.
Awareness is key as we can’t do what we don’t know.
- Realize that the authentic self is never entirely lost. She simply waits patiently to be invited back into the driver’s seat.
- Practice thought control. Fact-check. Remind yourself that you can select which thoughts you would like to keep. Toss out old, shaming thoughts from the toxic people in your life. While you’re at it, toss them out, too.
- Feelings aren’t facts. Thoughts come first and feelings come second. Therefore, the thoughts we allow will govern how we feel. Challenge your feelings. Redirect your thoughts.
- Choose your family. It’s not written in a big book anywhere that you are stuck with your family of origin.
- Let it go. Don’t wait for an apology or for anyone to change. As Claudia Black, of the Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) movement, has said, “forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting and everything to do remembering and choosing to move forward.” Forgiveness does not give anyone a pass for what they did. It’s about taking your power back. Let go and reclaim your power. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
- Live in the present moment. Yank yourself out of the painful past and be here where life is happening. Don’t miss another valuable life-minute. Spend your life-minutes as if they were cash.
- Voice and Choice. One of the benefits of being a grown-up is that no one can hurt us anymore without our consent. We can choose who makes the cut to be in our lives and who doesn't make the team. Release negative people from your life.
- Practice gratitude. By focusing on what we have rather than on what is missing from our lives, more abundance will come our way. The brain can be rewired for positivity by practicing gratitude every day. Buy a journal and jot down three things you are grateful for each day. This will change your life. I’m sure. Been doing it for years.
Black, C. (1981). Children of alcoholics as youngsters, adolescents, and adults: "It will never happen to me!" New York, NY: Ballantine Books.