A Little More About Self Worth – extracted from a book I am writing.
I have, by now, deeply listened to hundreds of people, possibly a thousand, telling their stories, describing how they were hurt, how their lives changed, how the sense of who they were and what might be possible in life changed. I have come to think of myself as an “eater of pain”.
There does not have to be “abuse”, for a person to be wounded. The exigencies of life are such that it is unlikely to become an adult without having received some kinds of inner wounds. Wounds can also come from totally loving, conscious parents, really trying to do the best in every way for their children. While home is the most likely place for wounding to occur, life provides us many other opportunities. The next most common place for wounds to occur is school, either from a particular teacher or from other students, or both. While boys tend to, for the most part, bully one another physically, girls seem to bully one another emotionally. The degree of cruelty is actually hard to believe.
A very perilous time for girls and young women is the first sexual experience, which in most instances that I have heard of is not something that happens out of some profoundly romantic experience, but from pressure, pressure that is both inner and outer. The inner pressure is generated by a fear that one is not “with it,” that everyone else has “done it, and that one needs to “do it.” The other pressure comes from the “date.” It seems that many young woman wind up not being able to say “no” the first time, and then wind up feeling dirtied and ashamed.
Our story about ourselves is what determines what is and is not possible. If we believe that it is hopeless (that we will never be happy in life, – that things will not work out) then it is hopeless. If one believes that one is unworthy, damaged goods, no good, etc., it is hard to achieve much in the way of life’s abundance. Mostly, when we believe that we do not deserve to do well, we wind up proving it over and over again. One can be quite wealthy with respect to finances, and be quite poor in many other ways. Indeed, one can be world famous and loved by many people, and still feel unworthy and unhappy. “Abundance” means: “more than enough”, “a plentiful supply”, “beyond need,” and in all categories of life, emotional, financial, spiritual, physical. When there is abundance in life, one has the sense of being “in the flow”, easily able to make the right decisions, easily able to find and access what one needs.
When one believes that one does not deserve to be happy, and remember, we are speaking here of matters of degree, shades of gray, life is a hassle, it is hard to make the right decisions, hard to decide. One chooses, all too often, what is not good for one. There are habits, people, jobs, and relationships that are demoting and ones that promoting. If they are promoting, they contribute to one’s sense of emotional, financial, spiritual, and/or physical well-being. If they are demoting, it is the opposite, one is unhappy, one suffers, emotionally, financially, spiritually, and/or physically.
What we wind up choosing in the way of things that are promoting or demoting is directly related to the settings of our personal abundance meter. If we believe we deserve to be happy, we will almost always choose what will promote happiness. If we believe we do not deserve to be happy or that we cannot be happy, we will make the demoting choices.
In my work, I have heard over and over again about the family dinner table being a place of hell (I regret to say more often than not); about the “uncle” in all his various forms (uncle, big brother, family friend, father or grandfather, teacher) who abused the little girl or boy, once or many times, while persuading her never to tell anyone; the many, many woman, who did not know how to say “no,” once or repeatedly, and who have been ashamed ever since; the children from many different cultures watching every day in fear for their potentially raging (alcoholic or not-alcoholic, depending on the culture) father to come raging home, beating them and/or their mother; the many cultures where child beating is a structural part of the society, and through which I have seen so many who have believed that they were beaten because they deserved to be beaten, because they were convinced that they were – and are – “no good;” the child waiting to be seen, to be heard, to be noticed, for some tiny indication of parental approval; the child who is always being told that whatever he or she is doing, that it is not good enough. And those who I meet, are amongst the privileged: those who have chosen to practice yoga, and who can treat themselves to weekend workshops.
Wounds do not only come from abusive parental relationships. A parent dying, divorce, fighting between the parents, all cause wounds. Sometimes it is just how things are phrased, such as: “Don’t be such a bad boy/girl;” “Don’t be so stupid.” Wounds also come from parental fear, even the fear about being able to be a good parent. I do not know of any way to raise a child and never make a mistake. There will be wounds. The best we can do is let the child to know that they are loved without condition, that they have nothing to prove. Listening is always good.
While most parental corporal punishment comes from the father, sometimes it is the mother who is the violent one. This is especially the case if the mother suffered “physical correction” herself as a child, or if, for any one of a thousand different reasons, she is filled with fear about raising the child well. I have known a number of women in my workshops, who are so filled with fear of men, that they have hardly ever had any relationship with a man, sometimes with this fear not coming from their own experience in life, but having been absorbed from the mother.
The collective impact on the world of these inner wounds is vastly greater than how we are individually affected by our wounds. There is a profound, deep, and vastly important connection between inner wounds, childhood physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and the, mostly, dysfunctional ways we govern ourselves, live our lives, and conduct our businesses around the planet.
Being wounded is the human condition. This is what we all have to deal with. Though, for the most part, we never talk about it, and, generally, do not think about it, and sometimes, are not even aware of it. Many of us wind up with the core belief or fear that nothing will really work out, that we cannot be happy
The subconscious exists only in the present. There is no past and no future. There is just, “now”. When a wound gets implanted in the subconscious, it is always there, as, in the subconscious, it is always “now”. There is no way to connect from the cognitive mind to the subconscious mind. You can tell yourself, over and over again: “I am OK”, “I deserve to be happy”, “I am prosperous”, etc.; but, it does not penetrate without being able to be present in the subconscious, in the moment of the wounding. One cannot do this by oneself. You cannot simultaneously be in your conscious mind trying to guide yourself, and in your subconscious mind being guided. Its is not that this is never possible, but is very rare that one succeeds in leading oneself into such a deep place.
In the healing work we do, each workshop participant enters a safe and sacred space, and is led through a healing “journey,” in which they become present at the time when the wounding happened, in the very moment, so that we (the journeyer and the guide) are able to enter into and be present in the subconscious, and can speak directly to the wounded self. Then, there is a healing dialogue between the journeyer and the wounded self, which is guided by the workshop leader.
There have been many people, over the years since I have been leading these workshops, who have told me that they have had ten, twenty, thirty, years of psychotherapy, of many different kinds; that more has changed for them in the one weekend workshop than in all their years of therapy.
It is possible to be happy, to be a good person, to lead a good live, to be “in the flow.” And, yes, people can change. I have seen it over and over again.
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