I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel, deep down, that I was worthless.
As a child, I strove to be perfect enough for my parents and teachers. Later, I worked to earn the love and approval of men.
But it didn’t matter what I accomplished. If I got 99% on a test, I focused on the one question I’d got wrong. My writing was published in magazines like Redbook, Glamour, Woman’s Day and Self, yet I didn’t feel proud. And no matter how much love I earned, I never truly felt worthy. Instead, I lived in constant fear of abandonment; of mistakes; of minds changing; of the next time I couldn’t measure up.
I’ve made significant progress after 3 years of working with Cindy, a therapist specializing in trauma who has essentially saved my life. Last autumn I realized that I wanted to do some kind of body work, too. My body was itching to move, but my mind, knowing my limitations and past injuries, insisted I proceed very cautiously.
Cindy recommended a local woman named Carrie Wood, another healing genius who has become indispensable on my journey. At my first session, Carrie asked me to place my hand on my throat, the source of vocal expression, and say the words, “I am worthy.”
I tried, but I couldn’t say it, not with sincerity. And I felt that I’d failed again.
But Carrie knew how to nudge me forward, just one step.
“Try this instead,” she said. “Say, ‘I’m willing to feel that I am worthy.'”
And I could because I was, sincerely.
Positive affirmations hadn’t worked for me, but this type of re-frame did. It helped bridge the gap, leading me from where I was to where I hoped that some day I would be.
I repeated the phrase over and over throughout the winter, and by spring, I could truthfully say that for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel worthless. I could even stretch so far as to say, “I am worthy” — always in a soft, tentative voice, as if saying it would snatch it from me — but I was saying it, nonetheless. And every month it feels more true.
I’ve known rationally for years that my worth does not depend on performance, outward things, or how much people love me. But I needed a step that felt true — that my heart could accept as it moved into alignment with logical thinking.
What do you long to feel? If positive affirmations have been too far of a leap, why not join me in taking a tiny step forward? I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments below:
“I’m willing to feel…”