Brene Brown’s TEDTalk on vulnerability really made me think. Brene talks about the power of vulnerability and the courage it takes to allow oneself to be vulnerable. It is in doing so that one can develop a “worthiness” – a sense of love and belonging and the feeling that one deserves to belong and be loved.
Why do some people have “worthiness” and others don’t? I don’t know the answer to that. I’m sure it has something to do with how we were raised, early experiences, and some environmental impact. But I do believe that nothing is set in stone – people who grew up on junk food can develop healthy habits as adults, people raised with little money can become wealthy, and people who grew up with low self-esteem can develop a sense of worthiness. It’s just a little (or a lot) harder…
I think there are some common misconceptions among people who don’t have a sense of worthiness. Like thinking that those who have a sense of worthiness come by it easily. I have been trying to be a more thoughtful, conscientious person. I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal, trying to avoid negative energy and toxic people, and making an effort to put positive thoughts out into the universe. It has been very helpful and the payback has been good, but it takes work and practice. It does not just come naturally. It is an active, ongoing process. Developing one’s sense of worth is part of this process. It is just like anything else – to achieve it you have to want it and put the work in. For example, I know someone who joined Weight Watchers who always talks about how easy it is for people who are born with good genes or small bones to be skinny, without considering that the people she is talking may be working at and making conscious choices about their health and nutrition. It is much easier to write something off as easy for others but difficult for you than to put in the work to change. (And maybe it is easier for some people, but they have their own things that are hard for them – they are on a different journey!)
Another misconception, I believe, is identifying people who have self-worth. People who lack this look at others who display their health, wealth and happiness (on social media, or whatever) and think these people have a great sense of love and belonging. I disagree – I think this is just another form of insecurity. People with a true sense of worthiness don’t need to talk about it constantly. If you are talking about it, it means you need to make others aware and their admiration and envy is the source of your feeling worthy. That is not true self-worth. Those who truly feel a sense of love and belonging are secure enough to not need constant validation. That doesn’t mean they don’t acknowledge what they have or express gratitude – it just means that they don’t need to view their qualities in comparison to others.
Brene Brown talks about the courage it takes to let go of who you think you are, to be imperfect, and to show who you are with your whole heart. It is only when you begin to do this that you feel a sense of love and belonging and experience “worthiness.” Every journey begins with one step. A good first step on this courageous journey is to treat yourself with kindness. And since what we project into the world is reflected back to us, treating others with kindness will help you realize how worthy you are – of love, belonging and everything good in the world.
During this time of the year when we are supposed to reflect on what we are thankful for (though of course we should always be doing that), I wish everyone the courage to be who they truly are. I will try to remember to be kind to myself as well as to others.
So, have a wonderfully imperfect chaotic loving Thanksgiving. Ignore those FaceBook posts of perfectly-dressed children sitting at perfectly-decorated tables and as you scrape turkey off the wall, remember that I am doing the same and that those FaceBook posters are only showing their own insecurity!