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We are all worthy

Bright Sun

We Are All Worthy

We exist; therefore, we are worthy.

Each human being is inherently worthy.

Take this in: You are inherently worthy. Before you ever do, achieve, or acquire, you are worthy. In other words, you are born worthy. This is a profound and powerful place to live from. How many of us really believe we are worthy?

In our culture, sadly, I think most of us believe we are not enough because our worth needs to be constantly earned. There is a continual striving to do more, to achieve more, and to acquire more. If we do this, it will somehow make us worthy. In this paradigm, life is very conditional. There is always more to do, achieve, and acquire. Living this way can be exhausting. Most of us live with some level of shame because we will never measure up.

We pursue external identity markers that we think are important in order for us to be worthy. The markers for one person can be “I’ve not written a book” or “I don’t own a Prius”. The markers for another person can be “I’m not as popular as my sister” or “my yard isn’t the neatest on the block”. These markers are all arbitrary and subjective. Sometimes the markers are met and then there is a sense of well-being. It doesn’t last, though. If you are only as good as your last task, achievement, or acquisition, the striving for the next thing to do, achieve, or acquire must take over. There is no end in sight. It makes it impossible to feel good about yourself in an ongoing way. This can lead to a life of anxiety and depression because internally you never feel you are enough.

Existential-Humanistic psychotherapy emphasizes an unconditional, loving acceptance of oneself and others, a reverence for the life of each human being, and an implicit trust in their innate wisdom about what is best for themselves. Kirk Schneider, a contemporary Existential psychotherapist, emphasizes the need to engage with life with a sense of awe. Carl Rogers, a pioneer in bringing Humanistic psychology to the United States, emphasized unconditional positive regard as one of the conditions that enables the client to experience their own self-worth. This allows the client to move into a more self-accepting stance.

When Existential-Humanistic psychotherapy is successful, the client accepts themselves as they are which allows them to become the person they want to be. This happens because we are human “be-ings”. We are not static as individuals. Movement and change are part of who we are. The Humanistic belief is if we accept ourselves as we are now, we naturally move towards health and wholeness. Thus, paradoxically, by not fighting against ourselves and accepting who we are in the moment (even if we aren’t completely crazy about who that is), we can compassionately let go or modify undesired aspects of ourselves and become more authentic. As you experience this unconditional acceptance of yourself, of your enough-ness, of your inherent worth, a deeper sense of self is experienced, as well as a fuller trust in the unfolding process of your living.

When we come from an unconditional acceptance of ourselves, instead of operating from an anxious striving place, we will discover a relaxed and grounded sense of being within ourselves. Knowing we are worthy, we can authentically engage with our life, through all its joys and challenges. If we start with a sense of well-being and inherent self-worth, then the doing, achieving, and acquiring emerges from our authentic core, not from a sense of lack. The doing, achieving, and acquiring comes from a congruent matching of internal desires with what you want to manifest in the world. This unconditional positive regard is not a prescription for resignation or rationalization. It is an invitation for an open-hearted acceptance and honest inventory of who we are now and who we want to become. Personal growth is a given of the human journey.

I would like to suggest an experiment: For one day, go through the day with the assumption that you are enough and worthy just as you are. During the day, be aware of how this assumption may move you into a sense of well-being, a sense of rebellion, or anything in between. And no matter what comes up for you, treat yourself like Carl Rogers and Kirk Schneider would – with a sense of unconditional, positive regard for yourself and with a sense of awe for your existence.

By Bob Edelstein, LMFT, MFT

This blog was originally posted in Psychology Today on November 11, 2011