As someone who is familiar with personal struggles around self-value, self-worth, personal value or usefulness to others I am acutely aware how easy it is to lose heart by looking at myself & seeing what is wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I think each & every one of us has a duty to a bit of self-examination every so often; sometimes it’s the only way we can see how we can change our behaviours, improve & move forward.
BUT I HAVE TO BE CAREFUL WHAT I USE AS A REFERENCE POINT OR MEASURE WHEN I DO THIS.
The media, our friends, family, school, university, work colleagues, bosses are very good at setting false standards to achieve to be ‘successful’ or ‘acceptable’ or ‘noticed’.
Within each of us is the need to be valued. The biggest problem is that we start in the wrong place & look in the wrong places for our sense of value.
We get things the wrong way around!!
We think that “If only I had that; earned that; owned that; achieved that; knew that person; could be seen with that person; was famous (etc etc … put in your own target) then I would be happy/content/fulfilled.”
These are all lies. We may have some temporary relief from our ambitions but they are usually very short-lived; we end up chasing something else. I have been a champion & earned many gold medals at this sport! But I am also an expert at feeling I haven’t quite achieved what I need.
Too many of us compare ourselves with others before we have had chance to know who we are. The results are usually disastrous with a trail of broken relationships, discontent, frustration & anger behind us, many of which lie unresolved & ready to repeat themselves at the earliest opportunity.
Too many of us long for some kind of security through what we own.
Too many of us look for some kind of security or affirmation through who we know, or through what letters we have before & after our name etc.
The reality is that these do not work & will not last because we have no foundation beneath us. When difficulties or trials come we simply collapse or implode under the pressure. There is nothing to hold us up.
After some quite hard discussions with a close & valued friend recently (who also happens to be my counsellor) we identified that I was starting in the wrong place; I’d got things the wrong way round.
Why didn’t I start to see my intrinsic value; my self-worth; who I am first; get to know these things & then start to pursue my interests.
The reality is that when we strip away our wealth, possessions, qualifications, status & whatever other piece of baggage we like to hang on each other, we STILL have intrinsic worth & value.
No “ifs” or “buts”.
It is very easy with psychology to become so focused & ‘anal’ about these things that we lose the plot & miss the point.
I’m NOT talking about unreality or fantasy or spending years in solitude discovering myself. Life is too short & important for me to undertake that kind of exercise.
I AM talking about realising my intrinsic value, accepting my worth, accepting that I do have something to say & have something to offer & to learn to be comfortable with that.
This approach allows me to build solid foundations on which everything else sits. It puts things into perspective & gives a meaningful reference point. It means that if things don’t go as I would like or I am taken by surprise or I am on the receiving end of unfair or untrue comments I don’t fall into the abyss.
We do need to be gentle on ourselves at times as this is our ideal & for all of us it is a journey; a journey on which we will still struggle & almost certainly still experience emotional challenges. I am at the beginning of this road but I can confirm that it has already started to make a difference.
I have been amazed how just being aware of WHO I am has saved me from the self-condemnation & self-destructive thinking I used to jump straight into when something ‘went wrong’.
Realising this is the key to being able to ride the storms of life & in many cases to not only survive but stay in one piece.
Many of us ‘know’ it in our head but few accept that it is true for US.
Sometimes we try to hang so much unnecessary crap around our own necks that we sink rather than swim.
Sadly, Robin William’s death today is just another reminder that failing to connect with this core truth (especially in the face of illness) means that many of the tags we want to hang around our neck are meaningless when it comes to contentment (which is different to the more transient & shallow ‘happiness’).
IT ISN’T ABOUT WHAT WE’VE GOT, WHAT WE’VE DONE, WHAT WE’VE ACHIEVED, WHO WE’RE SEEN WITH OR WHAT WE WOULD WANT TO BE, IT’S ABOUT WHO WE ARE.
I pray that today, we will be able to begin to realise this one simple truth that will release us from so many of our daily anxieties, especially about ‘being acceptable’ or ‘fitting in’.
Above all else remember that YOU MATTER: the two most important words you’ll read or hear today.
Have a good day & take care until next time …