If you hurt someone and can’t forgive yourself. Or were sure of yourself until you made a big mistake. Or are afraid of letting your parents down by failing in some way.
This deep-down feeling of unworthiness might show up as perfectionism, or it might show up as hiding, or of being cowed down. I’ve felt it: I let a bully dictate terms to me for almost 9 years, after making a big mistake and having to start over. I’d been so sure of myself before that, then had the bad luck of letting someone who didn’t respect me dictate terms. It cowed me.
Then, when I came to appreciate what happened, it took a while to come to terms with the loss – of years, and joy, and even health.
You might be a perfectionist, or in hiding, or even cowed. It isn’t because you made a mistake – mistakes are part of learning. It’s because you learned to feel unworthy, deep-down. And that has to go.
It any of what I’ve written speaks to you, if it’s even a little familiar, then you might be feeling embarrassed and ashamed. That’s what kept me quiet. But it’s false. Here’s what you can do to shake off that false feeling – the feeling that’s been holding you hostage:
- It’s a lie. It’s a lie that you’re unworthy, and anyone helping you feel that way is the one who is truly unworthy. Acknowledge the truth instead of the lie – that you are worthy and always have been.
- Feel the rage. In shamanism I was taught that rage is the teacher of truth. Once you recognize the lie, and the truth, you will feel rage. And along with that rage, you will begin to reclaim your truth.
- Question and confront. Question anyone who suggests, implies, or even acts like you are unworthy; anyone who demands something of you that isn’t actually worthy of you. Begin to know and appreciate your own worth, and from a stable and grounded place inside you, confront and challenge. This might look something like: “Please don’t speak to me that way; find some other way to say what you mean”. Or: “This is the best I can do right now”, without apology.
- Be ready to leave a situation or person that won’t acknowledge you as an equal. This can seem hard. But once you claim your own worthiness, it’ll be a lot easier than you think.
Shame loves perfectionists
“Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”
― Brené Brown – how do I do this again to tag the blue dot people?
Blog: In case you missed it, here’s my latest blog.
Need more? At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist and Life Coach. To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co.