I was listening to a podcast the other day, which posed a challenge to “discover my worth.” Something about it didn’t sit right with me. This concept of struggling with worth and identity certainly isn’t exclusive to women, but I don’t know that I’ve met a single woman who hasn’t struggled with it.
Here’s the thing—a belief of unworthiness is a learned behavior. We do not come into this world believing we are unworthy of life. No child enters into the world believing that he or she doesn’t deserve to be there. We don’t feel ashamed to take our first breath.
A belief of unworthiness is a learned behavior.
What do babies do when they’re hungry? They certainly don’t say, “I’m so sorry to be a bother, but I am very small and need nourishment if it’s not too much of an inconvenience to you.”
Of course they don’t. They cry. They scream. They surely do not feel embarrassed or ashamed of asking for what they need how they are able to. They make you aware of their needs until those needs are met.
Babies understand something that we seem to forget as we grow up: It is not unreasonable to have needs and to ask for those needs to be met. We are deserving. We are worthy.
As we grow into adults, it’s not a diaper change or an empty stomach that we cry about. Instead, it’s discomfort, a lack of support, a fear of abandonment, a fear of being misunderstood or unheard, the hurt of betrayal, a lack of security and so on. Much like a child’s stomach missing nutrients, our souls miss these things. We crave them. Something within us inherently knows what we need to survive.
The issue arises when someone, somewhere along our path, tells us we’re not allowed or that we’re not supposed to have those needs. That it’s too much to ask for and instead of those very basic human needs of the soul being met, we are given mounds of shame to fit in those empty spaces of ourselves. We are never full or satisfied, but instead, we are semi-filled with something dangerous to our spirit.
Eventually, we don’t feel worthy—whether it be of comfort, security, safety, celebration or praise. We grow used to that ache and accustomed to the way shame fits within us instead. We believe those very people who were deprived themselves. We were born worthy, but perhaps, we just forgot somewhere along the way.
When I heard the woman on the podcast ask the listeners to “discover your worth,” I was wary for good reason. To “discover” insinuates there is some new treasure to find and that there is something you have never encountered before. Our worth is something we were born sure of. It’s not some foreign, allusive treasure.
Our worth doesn’t need to be discovered. It needs to be remembered. Our inherent knowledge of worth is within us, but it has been buried beneath lies we were told, trauma we experienced and shame we carry from past mistakes. Thus, our journey is not one of discovering our worth but of peeling back the layers that cover it, shaking the rust off of our learned belief of shame.
Our worth doesn’t need to be discovered. It needs to be remembered.
You were born worthy. You are worthy still. Even in your mistakes, struggles or striving, you are worthy still.
I am sorry for those who led you to believe you don’t deserve safety, comfort or being heard. I am sorry for the times you looked at your pain and said, “You are too much.” I am sorry for the times others looked at your pain and said, “I don’t believe you.” The truth is, you are not too much. Those who led you to believe you are unworthy were lacking something within themselves.
One of the most challenging things we can do in our lives is to face those lies, actively unlearn them and do the very thing we were taught not to do—trust ourselves again. Being a human with very human needs is not too much. Asking for those needs to be met is not too much.
You are worthy of a voice that asks.
You are worthy of a heart that feels.
You are worthy of healing.
You are worthy of nourishment.
You are worthy of healthy soil to grow deep within.
You are worthy of celebration.
You are worthy of trusting yourself.
You are worthy of remembering your true self,
The self that rests assured and safely within the knowing of worthiness.
Someone once told me that we have everything within ourselves to heal ourselves. You are and always have been worthy. Remember that.
Have you ever struggled with feelings of unworthiness? Where does your self-worth come from?
Image via Kelly Elaine Photo