Greetings All, Welcome to the podcast “Close to the Bone.” I’m Carl Vreeland.
This is episode #44, it’s called, “You Are Worthy.”
“You are worthy.” “You are inherently worthy.” “Own your worth.” “Tap into your worth.” “Don’t let people tell you that you’re not worthy of your dream job and dream life.” “You came here into this world with gifts, magic, purpose, meaning. . . you have so much to offer to the world.”
These are among the many New Age or Self-Help messages that permeate the airwaves, as it were. And I’m always taken by how hollow they seem to be. They seem very scripted and soulless. I mean, for one, none of us really know whether we came into this world with gifts, magic, purpose, and meaning. For sure, we are born with certain leanings or knacks. But that doesn’t imply magic, it could simply be genetic, for instance. To proclaim otherwise is a bit arrogant. To the point, how can anyone be worthy of a dream job and dream life without putting in the effort, without working toward it, without earning their worth? It sounds like an equality of outcome mentality? It sounds like a strong sense of entitlement. I mean, is worthiness really inherent? Can one be and feel unearned worthiness? Should one expect worthiness whether underserved or not? Is anyone and everyone worthy of the same job, income, and status? Well, I suppose we can argue about this until doomsday. Fortunately, this line of debate is not necessary or relevant; I have other concerns about this New Age stance. I believe there’s something else going on here, that’s much more worthy, pun intended, to point out.
I’m always suspicious of mantras that claim to convince and convert; “Believe in yourself.” “Know you are loved.” “You can do whatever you choose to do.” I mean, when you really give it further thought; how can words change us? How can telling ourselves something over and over again change us from being selfish to unselfish, from being lazy to being lively, from being depressed to being cheerful, from feeling unworthy to feeling worthy? They are just mere words.
These “you are worthy’ type mantras are not getting to the core issues, rather they’re simply scripted self-help affirmations that ultimately avoid the real problems. That is, one doesn’t feel worthy by telling themselves or convincing themselves that they are worthy. Just as one doesn’t feel loved by some guru telling them they are loved. And some of these mantras are just plain ludicrous. “I deserve love.” “I believe I deserve true love.” You do? Without condition? If one expects unconditional love from anyone other than their mother and father they will be disheartened every time. No doubt, these messages are seriously misleading and misinforming, and moreover, they circumvent the core issues that need to be addressed.
Personally, I don’t believe these self-help methods work; I haven’t seen them work, and they certainly haven’t worked for me. That said, if they serve you well, great, I’m all for it. But if they don’t, please know it’s not because of you. Which leads me to my next point. If one doesn’t feel worthy or deserving of love and a dream life, it’s likely because they are living with low self-esteem, among other issues. Which is why motivational quotes and positive thinking can’t help. Words cannot help us overcome low self-esteem, trauma, depression, addiction, or anything that makes us feel less worthy or unloved. I mean, we can’t hypnotize ourselves into believing we are secure and strong. In fact, believing itself is irrelevant. Meaning, we must feel worthy and loved. And we can only feel worthy and loved from the inside out. Which means we must do the inside work. Which brings us closer, in my view, to the truth; what makes people really feel unworthy is their own view of themselves. Which is typically due to, again, low self-esteem, and surprisingly more often than we want to believe, self-loathing and self-hatred.
Now, let’s look further here. . . “Don’t let people tell you that you’re not worthy of your dream job and dream life.” OK, how many people in your life, if any, told you this? It’s a bit hard to believe that people going around telling you this often? Likely, if at all, it was one or two people in the past that said something along these lines. Which brings up some questions. Why did it affect you so much? And why is it still something you’re struggling with? And how can this be cured by telling yourself that you are worthy? And what happens then, when you cross paths with someone who tells you otherwise again, who say to you that you’re not worthy? Are you going to be triggered? Are you going to get deeply angry and hurt? Are you going to question yourself and your worthiness again? And if so, how then are these affirmations helpful?
Indeed, we cannot live life fully going around protecting ourselves from and avoiding people who don’t have good intentions or vibes. Which is why the self-help suggestion; “good vibes only,” doesn’t work either. Yes, of course, we don’t want to stay friends or have intimate relations with toxic people. But we need to define toxic people. I mean, one person’s suggestion for improvement might be taken well, yet another person might be hurt and offended by it. And why is this? Well, likely it’s because the former is a confident person and latter is someone who has low self-esteem issues.
OK, so what can we do? Well, again and again on this podcast and elsewhere, I’ve referred to what’s become my personal mantra. Which I believe is vital for doing the necessary inside work. It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.1 If we are to grow and overcome our low self-esteem, trauma, and the issues that hold us back from living our “dream life,” we need to honestly look at yourselves. Why are we so easily hurt? Why do we feel unworthy? And why do we let others make us feel unworthy or underserving?
You see, we are the problem. And we’ll never be able to fix the problem using positive affirmations or blaming others. It’s on us, we must change, and we must do the work. Whatever the root causes, we have to get out of self, humble ourselves, stop fighting with the world, and surrender ourselves to a power greater than ourselves. Why, you ask? Well, because we lack the power and wisdom. We lack the strength. It’s inside us, but we must tap into it. We must rid of and let go of the things that are blocking us from it. Are what is that? Well, for starters, expectations, self-entitlement, unearned loved, selfishness, egocentricity, and a neediness and craving for more.
I’ve told this Buddhist story several times over the years. Forgive me, but it sums up much of what I’m saying so well. . . There was a prince who aspired to gather up enough hide leather to cover up the streets of the city. This was so, because each time he left his castle he would burn his feet on the hot pavement, cut them on shards of glass, and stub his toes on uneven surfaces. In short, realizing that there wasn’t enough hide leather to be found to cover the city streets, he had a realization—that he could
wear leather shoes.
When we awaken, find our strength, develop confidence and self-esteem, we become unaffected by the thoughts in our head telling us we are not worthy. We become largely unaffected by someone telling us we are not deserving or worthy of our dream life. We no longer rely on the validation of others. Yes, if someone points out a flaw in us, if it’s potentially valid criticism, we should consider it. But whether it’s true or not, we needn’t be broken by it. But if it’s true, we should work on it for sure. This is humility, void of a fragile ego and low self-esteem. This is feeling and knowing we are worthy and loved. Whereas we are not trying to convince ourselves and others that we are, no, our presence projects that we are.
Well, that’s all I got. Thank you for listening.
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- Step Ten, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 90.