The greatest lie we are told is that we have to earn our worth or value.
That is complete rubbish!
Each of us is born with an inherent value & worth.
As humans, we are built & wired for connection: the link with other people that is the foundation for the rest of our life activities & roles.
If I don’t connect, if I’m not connected, I feel a tension & a loss & a need to put it right.
Our culture tells ladies & increasing girls, “You’re not acceptable unless you look beautiful!” (a relative & qualitative term if ever I came across one).
Our culture tells our men & increasingly, young boys, “You’re not acceptable unless you’re macho, hide your feelings or if you must show them, demonstrate them as aggression or violence!”
Girls you ARE beautiful AS YOU ARE.
Guys you ARE LOVED ESPECIALLY when you show weakness; it just confirms that you’re like the rest of us; human.
These are not my opinions; these are the finding of extensive research on what makes us feel valued, what gives us purpose & motivation … what gives us life.
I am tired of encountering people whose daily existence is to ‘try harder’, ‘work longer’, look different’, ‘look more beautiful’, be ‘more manly’ …. etc.
I am tired of seeing lives ruined by parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents who fail to express love to their children & tell them that they are special.
I am tired of organisations, schools, colleges, universities, institutions, social & community groups who perpetuate the lie that our children & young people have to ‘do’ or ‘look like’ or ‘achieve’ to have value.
The spin-off from this trash is that we have generations who mistake ‘like’ for ‘love’; who mistake ‘attention’ for ‘care’; who mistake ‘doing’ with being’. We have generations fighting & striving to be liked when at the core they feel disconnected through a lack of love. Underpinning this lack of self-worth is a basic principle that ‘I am not good enough‘ or ‘I don’t deserve‘ or ‘You won’t like me because …‘ This sense of Shame is a powerful motivator for self-condemnation & self-destruction.
But the truth is …
Being liked can never be an antidote or remedy for not having been loved.
So what is the remedy?
The REMEDY for shame (self-blaming) is EMPATHY; “Me too!”
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all take a bit of time to allow others to be who they are, warts & all, in a safe environment where they can be accepted. At this point we have a foundation & starting point for change. Add some empathy & we have an antidote that can change lives, communities, countries & wider.
The slight problem is that until we can find value for ourselves, we can’t really help others find a sense of value. All we will achieve is promoting the need to chase what we cannot have, achieve what we cannot gain, be accepted for what we’ve done/achieved/know etc; in other words we will promote a glass bubble that shatters as soon as we touch it.
Yes, the change needs to start with US. We can never really help others or model compassion, empathy, trust etc until we have done so with ourselves. If we try to achieve with others what we can’t achieve for ourselves we are doomed to fail.
It is NEVER too late to start.
- Perhaps we know we’ve treated our friends & family inappropriately
- Perhaps we have encouraged family & friends to pursue values & achievements that reflect well on us rather than pursuing things that they were passionate about following
- Perhaps we have suppressed & hidden emotional exchanges that were so need to show our children that we get it wrong too & failed to say “Sorry!” where it was needed.
When we do start working to change our perceptions, remember that we are taking a risk & risk is rarely easy or comfortable.
But who are the biggest risk takers?
It is the people who accept that this kind of vulnerability is key to success. Vulnerability is uncomfortable but research has shown that those who are prepared to be vulnerable are also the ones who have the greatest sense of purpose & the greatest sense of ‘living’. It’s a two-edged sword: we need to be vulnerable, risking failure to be successful. But the prize is worth pursuing: imagine being able to enjoy a sense of belonging, a sense of acceptance for who we are rather than what we do.
When we see that in ourselves we will start to see a change in others too. WE WILL BE BEING RATHER THAN DOING 🙂
Situations change one person at a time, starting with us.
Is it time to take responsibility for ourselves, discover who we really are & help others to find who they are too?
This isn’t pie in the sky or wishful thinking. Where it is applied individuals; families; communities change.
The concept of ‘possibility’ begins between our own ears.
We have to start our journey WHERE WE ARE not where we would like to be & take that journey one step at a time. For those of us fighting with years or decades of shame it will rarely be an easy road. We will feel guilty (‘I have done something wrong‘) but that is very different to shame (‘I am something wrong‘).
Allow the guilt to motivate & steer your progress; don’t allow the shame to paralyse you.
We all have worth; we all have value; we all have a purpose. And we all have a right to KNOW that for ourselves & hopefully then be equipped to help others overcome the same struggle.
If you want to take 20 minutes to potentially change your life, pour yourself a drink & watch the following TED talk by expert researcher in this field, Brené Brown.
You’ll not regret it.
Take care until next time …