Worthiness is intrinsically linked to love and belonging. Well so the research says. When we intrinsically don’t feel loved or a sense of belonging at that visceral level then we will also stand outside of our intrinsic sense of worthiness that comes hand in hand with love and belonging. If we believe that we deserve love and belonging we will also believe that we are absolutely, without a doubt worthy of that love and belonging.
For me however it is all a little more complicated than that. On the one hand I have absolutely always known that I am loved. Regardless of how many times I hit the self destruct button I have always known that I am loved. That said I can’t honestly think of a time that I have had a complete sense that I belonged somewhere simply just for me. Wrapped up with all of this I absolutely struggle with the sense of worthiness. I have always had the I will be worthy when I finish school, I get married, when I have children, when I complete my degree, when, when, when … The problem is that the when never comes, that sense of worthiness never comes.
I do not feel worthy of that unconditional love that I have always had from my family. I have always felt a sense that I haven’t earned the love and as such have all my life tried to do things to prove that I am worthy of that. What I understand is that there is nothing at all that I can do to be worthy of unconditional love but I also know there is absolutely no worse a sentence that can be said to me than “I am so disappointed”. All the way through my school years there have repeatedly been comments like “Cathy has excellent results but could do better”. As much as I can’t stand the modern school reports that have to only have positive comments on them and really tell you nothing (I say this both as an ex chalkie and a parent), I do think that many of the comments on my reports could have stopped with “Cathy has pleasing results”. I am not going to lay blame at the feet of anyone except my own messed up mind for the fact that I do not believe that I am worthy of love, I do wonder if some of these things only helped cement my world view of myself of being not worthy.
I have constantly strived to be more to prove that I am worthy of that love, the more I strive the more I actually just come off more flakey. Forever changing jobs in case they discover that I am not as good as they think I am, my finger forever hovering over the self destruct button the second that things feel too comfortable. The reality is that I need to let go of all of the trying and striving, the knowing that and the doing that are two very different things though.
As a young tween I struggled with friendships and a sense of belonging. I developed coping strategies that honestly included all the dumb things of sex, drugs, alcohol, spending money on others you name it I have quite likely tried it to fit in and belong, to find my tribe. Turns out I am learning (very slowly) that you can no more buy your way into a tribe than you will find a sense of belonging from drowning yourself in all the other dumb things. These coping strategies are things that I have carried through most of my life and turns out do not help at all. Because instead of enjoying your tribe and knowing you deserve a place at their table. You spend all your time questioning why on earth they would want you around and if only they knew that you are a big, fat fraud and failure they would boot you off your seat in an instance. Trying to feel that sense of true belonging is really hard and leaves me questioning so much of the things I do, say and most especially the compliments or gifts that I get out of the blue. I have never felt worthy of these and really struggle with accepting them without wondering why.
I am learning that there are in fact just beautiful people in the world who just accept me for me and love me for what I bring to their life. Just me, not the cakes I bake, the gifts I make, the words I write, they see through all of that and just want me around. I am still waiting for the penny to drop and they will work out I am not worth all of that.
Do I believe that I am worthy – not on your life! Am I learning that worthiness is a a feeling of completeness that comes with an internal sense of belief. This is something that I am a long way from feeling.
Do I know that I am loved – absolutely but I still strive to prove to all the people that I am worthy of that love.
Do I feel like I belong – not even close but I am getting there. By trying to live a life that is true to who I am I am finding my tribe I think or probably more to the point they are finding me.
Brene Brown has a huge body of work around worthiness, love and belonging particularly in her book The Gifts of Imperfection if you want to do some reading on it.
tons of love, worthiness and belonging to you all.
I hope you will link up with this weeks Soft Landings Am I Worthy? #SL1