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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What Makes Me Worthwhile?

I frequent a site called “Inner Bonding”. It is put together by psychologists who have developed their own approach to healing. I get updates in my email about new articles and workshops. I haven’t attended any workshops, but have found some of the articles to be very helpful and insightful.

My inbox contained such an email, this morning. The subject line of today’s post was, “Healing Emotional Dependency”.

I love it when someone breaks something down for me. This part of the article did just that:

There are two major decisions you need to make to heal from emotional dependency:
1. You need to decide to learn how to take full 100% responsibility for your own feelings - your happiness and pain, your inner sense of safety, and your sense of worth.
2. You need to decide to define your worth - not by what others think of you or by your looks or by how much money you have, but by how well you love and what you contribute.
(Click here to read the entire article.)

So, first I have to take responsibility for my own feelings. That is a phrase I have heard before. I think it is a lot more complicated than it looks in that one sentence description. Before I could begin to take responsibility for my feelings, I had to:

1. Admit I had feelings. (CoDA would say, “Not deny them.”)
2. Learn to identify what these were (CoDA would say, “Not alter them.”)
3. Stop judging my feelings (feelings are not good or bad, they are just feelings.)
I think I have actually gone through steps one and two, here, but step three is still elusive.

Secondly, I have to reevaluate what makes me worthwhile. Talk about complicated! This is almost too much to get my head around. I want to believe that the ten pounds I’ve gained do not make me a bad person, but when I get dressed in the morning I have a hard time not thinking about how people will see me. I want to believe that I am just as valuable as my husband, who makes a great deal of money (that still never seems to be enough) even though I made only about $250 writing last year. I would like to believe that my life is as meaningful now as it was when I was a young mother with the responsibilities of little ones who needed me to take care of and guide them, but that role has defined me for decades.

Articles like this make me think about what is important, and I believe that is important in itself. I have to keep reminding myself that I am a work in progress. One way I am trying to define myself as “worthy” is through my belief that trying hard, working with true integrity towards bettering myself in ways that seem right, is significant – perhaps essential – in being “worthy”. The trying is all I can do right now, so I’m going with that.


  1. Hi Shen-

    Please google search "The God Memorandum" by Og Mandino - it is amazingand SO worth yor time. I look forward to your thoughts on it.

    Love Gail

  2. Hmmm..... thanks for sharing Shen. Will read over the article more thorough. Blessings.

  3. Gail, I've looked at it twice now. I don't get it. I'm sorry. I want to be able to give some kind of intelligent resposne.
    Can you tell me what it means to you?

    Thanks JBR

  4. I struggle with this a lot as well. No way am I worthy of anyone's time and energy. What I feel is not what I should feel. Why am I feeling at all? Oh, I know this post all too well.

  5. Hi Shen-

    The God Memorandum? Huh. I have never had anyone respond that they don't get it so I feel challenged to answer you.
    It means tot me that I am a miracle - a wondrous creation with purpose and value and intent - and that to stay on course I must always;count my blessings, kwow my rarity, go the extra mile, and use wisely my power of choice. It is God reminding me that he breathed, whispered, life in tome when I was born and that I am one of his greatest miracles, and so are you Shen. And therefore worthy. What don;t you inderstand?

    Love Gail

  6. Lily, thanks for commenting and understanding. That sense of not being worthy is and has been and probably will be a struggle for me.

    thank you for explaining it like that.
    I don't know why, but sometimes things don't click with me. I blame it on this inability to see things in an abstract way. I read the memorandum, but to me it was just someone saying a lot of things that they saw in God. I didn't think of it as God actually saying the things. I looked at each statement and judged the validity and that is not what it is about... but that is all I saw.

    I knew it was not what it was about. It has always been very frustrating to me when people say something and everyone else who hears it seems to hear something completely different from what I hear, but always they all hear the same thing.

    For instance, all those old sayings like, "A rolling stone gathers no moss" - I know they are meant to mean something other than what is actually said and sometimes I can figure out what that is, in context, but always, when I first hear the phrase, I hear something about a stone and moss and I think, well, of course if the stone was rolling it could not gather moss, but it couldn't roll forever, eventually it would hit the bottom and then it might gather moss....
    I know that is not what is meant but that is what is said and I get stuck on that.
    When I write I often think in metaphors and can throw them in and people seem to understand what I mean but when I read them or hear them I can't seem to translate them... it is truly like another language and it is one my brain doesn't seem to get.

    So, I wasn't trying to be difficult. I just did not get it - and I knew there was more to get than what I saw.

    I love the concept of thinking of each of us as a miracle and I am working towards believing that. I just didn't find that in the memorandum. Sorry... so thank you for explaining it.

  7. I struggle with self-worth, too. One thing that helped make something click for me was looking at another family and realizing how each person in it had flaws and gifts, and they all contributed together.

    I visited Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House in Concord, MA and there learned about how her father was a great thinker and at the same time a terrible bread-winner, Beth died at 22 leaving little impact on the world, and then Louisa published a book that brought in enough money to take care of the whole family. But if you read Little Women, Beth is the sweetest thing. She was worth the time she had with her family, despite the pain of her loss. Their father gave the girls many wonderful things - exposure to the thinkers of the time (Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau), yet caused the family some hardship when it came to finances. Each person is a blessing at times and each person causes pain at times. We're human. I don't have to earn my keep, I don't have to impact people's lives with my writing, I don't have to do anything for my life to be worthwhile. It is because without effort I am an encouragement to other people - it just happens. And I can't avoid some negative impact on others, either. It's the nature of being human.

    Take what you're given, do what you can with it.

  8. what a good post, shen~ i struggle with feeling self-worth also, and i work on taking responsibility for my own feelings. i do think that takes some learning and getting used to all the ways we do that and don't always realize when we're handing our power over or trying to get others to manage our emotions. or blame them for how we feel, etc. i need to go to that inner bonding site. that sounds great :)

    oh, and i like what another commenter before me said about how maybe we don't have to contribute anything to have our lives mean anything. i tend to think that all humans have self-worth and should feel love and dignity just for existing, that we don't have to do anything or be remarkable in any way. just be ourselves, whatever that my be.

    i appreciate your insights on the matter.

    oh and as for how you feel like you don't always "get things" i have noticed you said that a few times, and i was thinking, maybe you see things in a unique way sometimes, and see things that other people don't see. also, since you are an artist, maybe you see things very visually sometimes and that affects the way you interpret things.

    just thought i'd throw that in. :)

    wishing you well~~

  9. I tried to read the God Memorandum.

    I have read the same thing so many times in so many ways I could not get through it.

    To me it is people trying to explain what they do not know to begin with.

    I am OK with I do not know and I do not think anyone else does.

    It seems to me that most people who think they understand get really mad at me when I do not think they do.

    Perhaps the emperor has no clothes.

  10. Defining yourself by how well you love and what you contribute. I love that. Thanks for sharing.

  11. hi shen~ i was thinking of you today and hoping all is going well in your world, so i thought i'd drop by to say so~

  12. Beth, thank you for giving a good example of how everyone is important and worthwhile. I agree, we all have innate worth.

    Wonderful end words, as well. Take what you can and do what you can....

    Katie - thanks for your comments and take on "self-worth". If we all knew our own worth it would be a different world.
    As far as not understanding the old sayings and metaphors, I do see things uniquely... and sometimes that gives me an insight others might miss, but too often I miss the point of what is being said. I suppose I repeatedly mention this "shortcoming" because people seem to become extremely frustrated when they are not understood and become impatient with me. I try to be careful not to jump to conclusions but sometimes don't realize that is what I'm doing - or other times I am trying to clarify something but do it in a way that makes someone angry (they jump to conclusions, I suppose).
    aslo, thanks for looking for me in my absense... I'm here and still moving forward :-)

    Michael, I really get what you are saying here. It makes perfect sense to me and is exactly as I saw it. It feels like circular logic to me - using biblical things to prove biblical things. But I may have been missing the point.
    Like you, I don't believe anyone knows the answers to the infinite questions... but I do have a strong sense of spirituality, a feeling that there is something real and unseen and important....
    I hesitate to take seriously anyone who tells me they "know" the answers. We all have innate knowledge inside us, but usually this is not what they are speaking of. They are speaking of something they read or saw or were told, but not something they can really know.

    Even so, I suspect there is something I am not getting from the memorandum. It obviously speaks to a lot of people, I just don't hear what it's saying.

    You have a great way of summing things up in a little package that is easy to hold and carry away.
    Thank you for that -
    defining by the love we have and give... that is a wonderful piece of the puzzle.


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