A short while ago I wrote about feeling unworthy. This week I want to look at what life might be like when we shake off that undeserved mantle of unworthiness, and feel our own real worth.

There’s an imagination exercise I do with new clients that’s meant to help them clarify an objective of living the life of their dreams. Some have a really hard time imagining anything; others imagine a life more or less the same as the one they currently live; yet others imagine a life of beauty that they assume will never really happen.

I was in that last group of people when I was in my 20’s. When I was in my 20’s, as a young woman – unless you had support from family, there was little chance you’d be able to do more than work as a secretary or clerk, or if you were really lucky, a nurse. Then I read a book that inspired me to really dream big. That book gave me a glimpse of the exact life I secretly wanted for myself and never considered was even remotely attainable. That book changed everything for me, because it showed me that I could, indeed, have a fulfilling and exciting life in exactly the way I dreamed.

That was the beginning of my journey. It got me to a new city, to as much education as I could attain at the time. It gave me a sense of determination to plough through and not give up. However, what it didn’t give me was a conviction that I was worthy of this new opportunity.

That conviction didn’t happen until I refused to continue to carry self-doubt.

Easy to say. I doubted myself because from an early age I thought I was responsible for everything, including things I had no control over. This belief that I was somehow to blame for anything that went wrong threw me into doubting my own capabilities, that grew to become a solid central belief in everything I did: whenever I took on more than I could really control, then failed to succeed in working with whatever it was that was really outside my control, that belief would deepen.

It didn’t stop there – doubting myself constantly would lead to the shame of failing, which lead to isolating and trying to ‘fix’ things on my own. None of which worked. What worked was this: I convinced myself that being overly responsible was not a virtue, but rather a belief that I no longer had to cater to.

What I began to do was to take a look at what I could truly take responsibility for, to clearly identify what belonged to someone else, and to firmly limit my role to what I was truly responsible for. Once I succeeded in doing that, I also began to succeed in ways I’d never imagined to be really attainable: I succeeded in realizing my dream.

When I knew I was worthy, I became confident that I could live the life I wanted.

How to cultivate a sense of unconditional self-worth

Quote of the Week 

“What would you do if you knew you were worthy?”
– India Arie


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