Have you ever sat down and thought about what you're worth? Like, what are you, as the person you are right now, with all of your thoughts and feelings and behaviors and reactions and experiences, worth? As a person among a sea of other people? As a human being who is unique and special and important, yet is still *just* a human being nonetheless? How do you know? By what measure of standard are we to determine how worthy we are of what we have, tangible and intangible alike?
Some people say worth has intrinsic value; in other words, we all have worth just because we are here. The mere gift of life, this gift we have accepted through no active choice of our own, delivers us a steadfast worthiness beyond measure. And some people say worth must be earned; it is not deserved. We are all at a different level of worth based on how we are valued or rated, by both our communities and by ourselves. Most of us probably flip-flop between these two extremes based on what kind of a day we had, who has affirmed or denied us in the midst of our trials, and how good we feel about our own moral character.
It is a tricky question, a deeply layered question, a question that most of us put off in turn for more present and practical engagements. Regardless of how worthy we are or are not, the kids still need to get to school, the boss still needs us clocked in at 8am sharp, and some kind of dinner still needs to be on the table before we do it all over again tomorrow.
But I say it is an important question, one that should begin to take rank aside other more popular ones like "What do you want to be when you grow up?," or "What's your favorite subject?," or "Why are you mean to your sister?" And it shouldn't just be kids who are encouraged to mull this one over, it needs to be posed to all of us adults as well. Because if we continue to skirt around the question of worth, if we only speak in hushed tones about the why and the how of it, if we don't openly invite an exploration of its variable implications, then we are all left feeling more than a little lost about our own truth, our own light, and our own potential to make a difference.
Whether or not worth should be bestowed upon all of us equally, or whether we must earn our worth through contribution and moral example, one thing remains constant. Each of us, as individuals, must believe in our own personal worth if we are ever going to become fully well in mind, body, and spirit. And all too often, when we really dig deep enough, we find that most of us are coming up super short in the belief department.
And what happens when we don't believe in our own worth? Well, we trip a lot more often, to say the least. I'm not suggesting that tripping is necessarily bad; we need struggle and failure in order to spur solutions that will keep us learning and bettering ourselves. But I am suggesting that if we are constantly battling with voices of shame and doubt and imperfection as the bedrock of our being, then we are delivering a devastating and unrelenting blow to the outcome of any endeavor at all, even before that endeavor has a chance to take shape as promising or challenging or otherwise. Feelings of not-enoughness keep us down before, during, and after the fall. It is a heavy and seemingly inescapable affliction to be sure, one that can overtake the purest of intentions and the strongest of wills.
As an example, let's look at the desire to become a healthier individual, mainly because most of us want to be healthier overall. I'd like to be so bold as to argue that most of us are aware of what it takes to feel better these days. There will always be extreme cases of suffering and mysterious symptoms and devastating diagnoses. But in general, I think we can all agree that if we commit to eating a diet of real food and of drinking real water, and if we decide to move our bodies regularly and breathe in fresh air daily, then we will put ourselves on the track to less stress, less weight, less emotional instability, and more resilience to life's innate unpredictability. And we know this. The healthier we are, and the healthier our children are, the better adjusted our society and our world will be at large.
Yet here we are ~ sick, tired, overwhelmed, addicted, doubtful, and justifying it all in the name of the food industry, or the divorce, or the health care system, or the president, or whatever reason happens to be in the way of your pointer finger that day. We stand by and watch as cancer risk increases, diabetes becomes more and more prevalent among school-aged kids, and their peers feel it necessary to end it all in school shootings and suicides that fill the media outlets with rage and blame and even more unanswered questions.
In fact, the epidemics of all physical and mental maladies in this country, and therefore the rampant spread of illness, hate, isolation, despair, anxiety, and disease, are not due to a lack of time management skills, grit, or desire to be free of these ailments. They are due to a lack of worth . And this powerful undercurrent of worthlessness is eroding our faith in the potential of the individual to overcome, to persevere, to thrive, to evolve, and to create.
I know that sounds bad, and dramatic, and doomsday-ish, but bear with me if you would. Because although we've reached a place on our historical timeline where many of us might not feel like we have a light, a truth, or potential for meaning, much less the ability to lose 50 pounds, we've also reached a place in our evolution where we are absolutely craving the same.
So back to feeling more healthy on an individual level, because if there's one thing that we can all control in this crazy time of human turmoil, it's our own bodies and minds. We know that healthy eating and healthy breathing and healthy moving helps us to feel more energetic and creative and balanced. And we know that we can become agents of our own improved health and well-being by implementing these behaviors. And we know that we can start healing and protecting ourselves from disease and mental illness and large-scale tragedy by prioritizing our personal health. So why can't the vast majority of us seem to stick to it? What is so hard about living on the high road, especially when we know the consequences of not doing so are so dire?
Well, believing that you can, that you will, and that you are worthy of the possibility ~ that's what's so hard, and that's what almost none of us build first. The thing keeping us all from the high road in the health department (or any other department for that matter) is an underlying and unaddressed feeling of not-enoughness that we allow to become the overriding (yet largely silent) force in our daily narratives. It's a sneaky little bugger to be sure, hard to identify its so flighty. That voice in our head that convinces us we don't deserve to be our best. The voice that leaves us at almost, at someday, at maybe later. Take this sneaky voice a step further and an octave louder, and and we can see why, collectively as a culture, we are suffering so deeply from the epidemics of dis-ease and despair and ill-health overall.
So the question becomes not how to stave off the subject of worthiness until another day's gone by, continuing to participate in life at the status quo (keeping that extra-busy super chaotic schedule, checking out of reality with addictions to technology or food or drugs, avoiding the discomfort of change due to unchecked fear or anxiety), but rather how to step out of this conventional equation just long enough so as to begin cultivating belief and faith and worth again (or maybe for the first time ever)?
Because if you don't believe that you are worthy, you're never going to behave as if you deserve to be healthy, or happy, or financially comfortable, or a good partner, or a good parent, or a good artist, athlete, cook, or anything, over the long haul. So rather than insisting on putting the cart before the horse, as we are so accustomed to doing this day in age, what we need to be doing instead is leading with our mind's eye, cultivating our conviction first, then implementing the actions to follow.
You see, building the knowledge that you are enough, right this very moment, and then stepping in line to follow suit from this point forward, is the most important work you can do to begin turning the tables for yourself and for generations to come. This work can not be compromised. And to be sure, it is a very personal and intimate journey indeed. No one can gift you worth, force it upon you, or command that you feel it. Worth can not be given if you are unwilling to receive it, regardless of whether you've earned it or whether it was bestowed upon you at birth. The work is in the accepting of it, the tending to it, and the harvesting of it, alongside a lifetime of ever-changing affairs and unpredictable blows.
Having a resilient sense of worth within each individual is what will keep the world spinning on axis. Without it, we might just end up in the next galaxy with vertigo up to our ears.
I'm talking about confronting this epidemic of unworthiness head-on, and endeavoring to change the tide. Let's begin building up belief in each heart, belief that there is worth of the highest road within each of us, to the point where we can't help but pick ourselves up and begin creating our own futures, overcoming the circumstances that have always threatened to keep us hostage within the bars of doubt, blame, self-sabotage, regret, fear of the unknown, and complacency.
And how do we get to that place where we can really ground ourselves, dig our teeth in, and answer the questions that will bring us face to face with our greatness, our confidence, and our empowerment on this very personal and intimate level?
We encourage each other to take the time, as children and adults and somewhere in between, to uncover our own light and listen to our own voice. With practice, we can begin recognizing beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have worth, that we are each unique, and that we all have the gift of impact within us.
Journal. Meditate. Create new thought patterns. Delve into your thinking. Break the thought spirals by breaking your routine. Challenge your old views and calmly open yourself to new possible ways of reacting to old triggers. Journal and meditate some more. Say no to the excess. Slow down. Way down. Stop using band aids to make it all go away. Make connecting with yourself the priority. Ask yourself the hard questions, and get curious about your answers. There are no right or wrongs. Just begin, one day at a time, to discover the worth you have living inside of you.
Here are a couple of suggestions to get you pointed due north along your way:
1) How do you feel about the subject of worthiness? Where do these feelings come from?
2) How do you determine your personal worth? How does this determination help or hinder your progress towards living life as you want to live it?
3) Would you like to change anything about how you view yourself as related to the subject of worth? If so, what would you like to change? If not, what gives you your sense of contentment with your current self-view?
4) If you could impart one message you feel strongly about, that would impart wisdom and vitality along to your kids, nieces, nephews, grand kids, students, or to the next generation in general, what would it be? Why?
Step into your potential. And watch it grow.
Intrigued even just a little bit by what you read here? There's a book for that!
Here's to putting our healthiest selves first more and more often, as we connect more deeply and honestly with our inner power and passion!