Just before I entered fifth grade, my family moved to a new city. It was summertime, no school was in session. I was an only child and a little shy, so I didn’t make friends right away. But my parents encouraged me to go out and play and find new friends. I came back, day after day, having met no one and feeling dejected. My mom asked me why I hadn’t met any kids and I lashed out with, “But I’m TRYing.” She just said, “Maybe you’re trying too hard.”
My mom was right, I was trying too hard. I have tried too hard my whole life. I struggled with depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, bulimia, and bingeing. All through those battles I would declare in exasperation, “But I’m TRYing!” Just like a dejected fifth grader.
Even with the knowledge that I made lots of mistakes, though, I don’t regret anything I experienced to get where I am today. I’m just happy I am here now in this moment. Of course all the good stuff happened when I stopped trying so hard. And to stop trying so hard, I had to acquire a new mindset.
This mindset is based on the knowledge that I am valuable simply because I exist. For me, as a Christian, the realization that God endows every human being with the same dignity, gave me the strength to begin to trust myself and understand my worth. My genetics, my background, my character –none of these affect my value as a person.
From this foundation, I can simply build the life I want to live. And by ‘simply’, I don’t mean easy, I mean uncomplicated -that I don’t need to force things to happen. Knowing I am worthy makes the process of doing the right thing natural. I become responsible for my actions and add meaning to my life when I learn to respect myself.
This doesn’t mean I am perfect. It means I am okay with being me and I accept myself. This, in turn, frees up space in my psyche that was previously used for self-bashing. And with the extra room in my brain, I can concentrate on making the changes necessary to enhance my life.
Can I learn how to feel valuable when I feel like a failure and do the same stupid things over and over again?
If you’ve read any of my posts, you know I believe wholeheartedly that we can learn just about anything. So, yes, knowing your value can be learned. Let me rephrase that –you can unlearn all the bad stuff that obscures your feelings of worthiness. Everyone is born with self-esteem and a knowledge of their worth. When we were babies, we were never too embarrassed to cry when hungry, and we learned to walk without giving a second thought to what our thighs looked like or wondering if anyone was talking about us behind our back. So, the foundation is already there. Just be honest with yourself about what it means to be a worthy person.
One thing which can be unlearned is believing what others have said about you or to you. It’s easy to believe someone when they keep telling you how bad you are. If you had a troubled childhood, it’s easy to believe that what happened to you defines you as a person. But you don’t have to believe that these things define you. You can create your own truth. And your truth is more real than what anyone says about you or how anyone treated you in the past.
When I went through this process, I had to come to terms that my truth had nothing to do with my looks, talent, or accomplishments. The world uses these things as indicators of value. But don’t confuse these with your worth. Your truth and value stands on its own, regardless of your looks, talent, successes or failures.
And if you think you don’t have any accomplishments or talents or beauty, that will change when you see yourself as a worthy human being. Once I gained the knowledge of my value, I no longer felt like I didn’t ‘fit in’ and was able to stop trying so hard to do just that. I made positive changes since there was no reason to keep myself down. I was no longer second rate and began to accept the weird stuff in my life. I now know that my dignity, as a human being, is no more or less than any other person on this earth.
This does not mean that everyone is the same. We are each valuable in unique ways. That’s the beauty of knowing our worth. We can share our uniqueness without worrying about what everyone else thinks. We can help make our lives, and the lives of others, better. We can stop trying so hard.
“Even if I didn’t believe in God, I would have a good case for the significance of life. We are all made from the same stuff as the universe. Who am I to think that I am any less than anyone else, or even the universe?” MD