To Inspire Courage, Compassion and the Embrace of Worth and Spirit for the Freedom to be Authentic, Belonging, and Creative
What do I mean when I write about the next phase of my passion statement?
I use the word “embrace” here to describe a willing and eager expression of support, of acceptance. Similar to the human yearning to connect physically, the embrace creates a sense of holding close with affection. We usually hear the word “worth” to describe the value of material things, such as “what is this ____ (product, land, building) worth?” If asked “what are you worth?”, most people will likely respond within this monetary context. When people are invited to “embrace their worth,” I wonder if their automatic response is to think of how they would affectionately hold the money in their pocket or perhaps their gold bullion? What I hope you will reflect upon and acknowledge as true is the sense of your worth, or in other words, your “value of being”. With this perspective, I encourage you to avail yourself of all opportunities to express your worthiness as you participate and contribute to the goodness of the world.
My focus on “worth” originates with my interest in the human desire and lifelong quest to feel competent, satisfied, and complete. How is it that this goal is the destination of our life journey? Alfred Adler (1870-1937) developed his theories of Individual Psychology with an emphasis on the human striving for superiority and compensation. He wrote that everyone will attempt to conceal and overcome feelings of inferiority, those feelings of what I term as “less than”. His example of this behavior is as if humans are so fearful of being “small”, that they walk on their toes to make themselves seem taller.
My passion to inspire the embrace of worth is motivated by my support of the concept of the “BOTH/AND”. That is, I understand that people can BOTH understand feelings of inferiority as an aspect of their beingness AND find healthy ways to lessen the negative impact of these inferiority feelings. Adler wrote that the healthy person moves toward goals of self-mastery by integrating these goals with activities and relationships that improve the capacities of the family, community and the greater world.
With the current emphasis on brain research and neuroscience, you will know that the innate feelings of inferiority are reinforced by messages received and repeated as reminders of one’s unworthiness. These negative messages form neural pathways in the brain and, in their conditioned state, are difficult to change. Challenging, yes; impossible, no! Your courage and compassion will align with the guidance offered by those who accept the reality of “less than” and know the possibilities of “good enough”. Your responsibility is to accept that guidance and learn from it so your emotional responses of appreciation and curiosity are stronger than the emotional responses of fear and shame. You will form new neural pathways upon which you will travel as a Being of worth.
And for those who question whether they are worthy enough to even consider the embrace of their worth? As painful as these feelings of unworthiness are over a long time frame, they are often accepted as the norm, as the familiar. Whether this applies to you or to someone you know, you understand how humans creatively bury the pain of the unworthiness. When the creative act is to the detriment of those who want to lessen the pain, they suffer as does their relationships, community, and the world. One example of this less than useful creativity is in the behavior of addiction.
When feelings of unworthiness are so deep and prolonged, the word “shame” describes this reality. The emotion of shame can be felt similar to and, as well, more intensely than guilt. Guilt is about behavior, the external expression of your actions; shame is about beingness, the internal experience of your essence, your core. I describe this as follows: “oops, I made a mistake; I feel guilty, will reflect on lessons learned, and change my behavior accordingly.” The deeper experience is “oops, I AM a mistake; I am so ashamed of who I am; no-one will want to be with me; I deserve not to be here” – that is not to be considered as worthy of existence. My hope is that a person’s presence in the world will be celebrated as an acknowledgement of inherent worth. From this place, then we can accept that even worthy humans will make mistakes. The recognition of and conversation about guilt and shame is necessary and helpful to lessen their debilitating power. The integration of worth, through dialogue, meditation and prayer, as well as mind/body energy practices, creates a different and more constructive power.
I close with an invitation for you to consider the embrace of worth within the spiritual context. Some will describe their sense of worthiness as it is created and supported by a personal God who speaks messages of unconditional love. Others receive vibrations that resonate as they carry love from an enlightened energy, a consciousness, a universal spirit. When the divine energy and the human energy are considered as One, worthiness is truly embraced. I respect the importance of the cognitive, the “thinking” experience. I do encourage as well, the integration of the “feeling felt” sensation. When you feel felt, you receive confirmation of your presence, of your worthiness, in your relationship of choice — with your personal God and/or your connection with a spiritful, vibrating energy. Embrace it – embrace the worth of it all!!