I've noticed over the last few months that I can be super hard on myself sometimes. When things don't go as well as planned, when I procrastinate or when I eat an entire 5 serving bag of cheese puffs in one sitting, I end up persecuting myself for it. I am my harshest critic and my worst enemy. What I'm beginning to realize is that we all have days like this, days that make us feel inadequate and completely hopeless that we will ever be able to accomplish our goals, but none of us want to acknowledge it. In her book "Presence", Amy Cuddy writes about another variation of unworthiness that's known as 'Impostor Syndrome' wherein successful people are plagued with the idea that they don't deserve their success. that they didn't earn it and that it all came to them based on luck, good timing or deception. So even if you've been successful and achieved everything you set out to do, you may STILL struggle to feel worthy of it. Unworthiness is universal.
My first reaction to feelings of unworthiness is to search for perfection. Tirelessly brainstorming ways to improve and to avoid ever messing up again. I want to fix myself, so that my flaws won't be exposed. So that I can correct whatever it is that's wrong with me. My desire to fix my flaws manifests itself into anxiety, worry and concern that my imperfection will never be cured. I put myself in this prison of perfection. I've finally begun to discover ways to break this vicious cycle. I've learned to accept these feelings of unworthiness for what they are, I'm human and I'm not perfect and from time to time I'm going to feel worthless, and that's OK. Once I can come to terms with my thoughts, they begin to lose their control over me. Instead of reacting to them and trying to fix everything, I can just experience them.
The last thing any of us want to do is to let ourselves feel unworthy, or like a failure. Our instinct is to avoid these feelings at all costs. We distract ourselves, we numb, we run. Unfortunately friends, all of this avoidance is only making the problem worse. Those feelings are still going to be there when you resurface from whatever it is that you do to distract yourself, and the more we avoid, the stronger they will be. It's like the elephant in the room, except the room is your mind. You have to approach the elephant. You have to sit with it. Sit with the unpleasantness of being inadequate. Let yourself feel disappointed and sad and everything that comes with this sense of unworthiness. Mourn the fact that you are not and will never be perfect. When you sit with it you'll begin to feel human. You'll realize that you don't need to be perfect, in fact sometimes our imperfections give us character, differentiate and define us. We need to learn to embrace our unworthiness with compassion and understanding. This emotion, just like happiness or sadness is part of the human experience. Let yourself be human.