|We accept the love we think we deserve. --Stephen Chbosky,|
As Worthy As You Are--by Bonnie Rose, Sep 14, 2017
When I look at babies, I see how worthy we all are. I see that each individual is an artist, ready to paint something soul-fulfilling on the palette of existence. I see how we start out completely innocent and deserving of love.
Then we begin to grow, finding our way in a sometimes challenging world. Navigating life’s difficulties sometimes alters our perception of self-worth. We discover that we don’t always receive the love and care we need. We experience disappointment, failure and rejection. There are times when we are not seen or heard or validated for who we are. We begin to doubt ourselves and often perceive that we are unworthy.
Our perception of unworthiness affects our relationships, work, finances, and families. Unworthiness causes stress depression, anger and fear. It poisons our inner conversation. The perception of our own unworthiness causes us to feel shame, regret and grief.
We mourn for the person we think we should be.
Our pain leads to strategies to manage our perceived unworthiness. We chase after things that will make us feel good in the moment or things we think will make us feel loved and acceptable.
Many strategies are unhealthy – addiction, compulsive people pleasing and relentless over-achievement.
But there are many positive strategies that we can employ to re-teach worthiness. Through insight, choice, and practice, we can restore our perception of self-worth and become the beautiful beings we are meant to be.
Worthy Practice #1 – Respect
Respect enhances self-worth.
Respect is from the word re-speculate, which means to look a second time. Often when confronted with life, we succumb to “first gaze.” First gaze asks, “How is this about me?” Or “How do I make it about me?”
Through respect, we recognize that first gaze does not always satisfy.
How do we learn to give that important second look that releases us from ego tyranny?
Fr. Richard Rohr suggests that we go outdoors in nature, find one object and grant it respect. It can be a flower, a leaf, a lizard, a pebble, a bug. We respect this tiny, unassuming part of nature by seeing it and loving it for its own sake. We see its beauty apart from how it may serve us.
It’s easy to respect nature and appreciate its beauty. The practice gets really exciting when we extend respect to the entire world. We respect our friends as well as difficult people. We respect all of the mystical circumstances that rose up to bring us where we are today; we respect our own dear face in the mirror. If we’re really bold we find a way to respect that which does not seem deserving of our respect. Perhaps we see the hidden gift in difficult people. Perhaps we respect how challenges grow our souls.
Ask yourself, how will I practice respect today? Then offer respect to whatever you encounter. Deepen in your practice. See life and love it for its own sake. Do your best to move from respecting a bug – to respecting someone who bugs you…
Worthy Practice # 2 - Teach Others Who You Are:
The practice of deep respect ultimately leads to greater self-respect. From this place, we learn to inspire people to treat us with the kindness and integrity that all beings deserve.
Several years ago, my husband and I visited Sedona Arizona to attend a seminar. On day three, we spent much of our time in meditation. Afterwards, I was blissed-out.
We returned to our hotel. Then, I decided to wander across a four-lane highway to visit a metaphysical bookshop. In my meditative haze, I walked a little close to a car zipping down the highway. The driver blared her horn and sped by… or so I thought.
I arrived in the parking lot of the bookshop and the driver met me there. She had pulled a U-turn on the highway to come back and yell at me.
“Are you inebriated?” she shouted.
“Um, no, I’ve been meditating.”
She launched into a tirade about my shortcomings. I felt like I had put her in an awkward position, so I apologized three times. When the tirade continued, I said Namaste, bowed, and walked into the bookstore.
She got out of her car and chased me in there, continuing to yell at me amidst the crystals, tarot cards, and books on enlightened living. Finally, I politely told her I was done and we went our separate ways.
When I got back to the hotel, I asked my husband, “What do you think she wanted?”
“She wants you to feel as badly as she does,” he said.
I didn’t comply with her wishes, because I didn’t feel badly – just puzzled and compassionate.
I’m not always as poised as I was with the woman who yelled at me in a metaphysical bookstore. But I think of this incident when someone is upset with me. If I’ve done something wrong, I apologize. And if they want to continue the fight, I respectfully acknowledge that I don’t have to participate once I’ve apologized and made amends.
I call this teaching people how to treat me; or teaching them who I am – a flawed, wonderful, compassionate person who is willing to apologize but not willing to be kicked repeatedly for alleged wrongdoing. Our willingness to hold this integrity affirms our worth and blesses everyone.
So ask yourself - Is there someone in my life who needs a calm, kind lesson on who I am?
Worthy Practice #3 - The Love You Deserve:
Part of the ability to face difficult people while supporting mutual self-worth – theirs and yours – comes from an understanding of deserving.
Steven Chbolksy wrote in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”
It’s true. We have learned to draw limits around the love we will accept. These limits are not imposed upon us. We impose these limits on ourselves with our thoughts about deserving.
The love we think we deserve is different than the love we actually deserve.
The love you actually deserve is complete, unconditional and unabashed. You have deserved this kind of love from the moment of your birth, if not before.
You may deny yourself this level of allegedly unearned love. You may struggle with deserving as you remind yourself of your perceived inadequacies – the things you have done or the things you haven’t done; all you are and all you are not.
If you feel unworthy of love, again, consider a newborn baby, a kitten, a puppy, or a flower. You wouldn’t deny love to any of these divine beings. Why should your true self be any less deserving?
Not only do we accept the love we think we deserve…We accept the help we think we deserve. We accept the success we think we deserve. We accept the solutions we think we deserve. We accept the innocence we think we deserve.
Bonnie Rose is the Senior Minister at the The Ventura Center for Spiritual Living. Their mission is “be love, share love, serve love.” Bonnie also encourages greater love in the world through her blog, www.dailybeloved.org.
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