A few weeks ago I learned that a friend of mine had sadly taken her own life. As tragic as this was, I understood. For only a year and a half earlier had her daughter and only child, also taken her own life.
A truly heart wrenching story about the real-life experience of a mother and daughter who were both suffering from depression, battling their very own deep-seated feelings of helplessness and unworthiness. My intention is not to tell their story, but rather to speak in general terms to one single component of it—the unworthiness piece.I would like to dedicate this month’s blog to these two beautiful women, who left this earth too soon. I would also like to dedicate it to anyone and everyone who has ever felt “less than” or “not good enough” in some way.
“I am unworthy/unlovable” is one of many limiting beliefs that plague mankind. Some other examples include: “I am a failure, I am a burden, I am useless, I don’t belong, I am invisible.” These are all fundamental core beliefs that seem to reside under the overarching belief of “I am not good enough.”
Negative thoughts and limiting beliefs such as these are toxic. We are constantly asking others and ourselves if we are enough. Am I a “good enough” wife/husband/partner, mother/father, son/daughter, and/or friend? Am I a “good enough” employee and/or employer? So often we doubt our worthiness and seek that validation and acknowledgment from others.
But here’s the catch. Others are not always ready and willing to validate. Others can be judgmental and critical—even disrespectful, hurtful, and offensive. For this reason we have to find the strength to seek continuous validation from within.
Regardless of what anyone else has told you—regardless of your very own stories and of what you perceive to be real—please know this essential truth: Worthiness is your birthright. It is never something that needs to be earned or negotiated. What you have to offer is valuable. You deserve to be seen and heard. You are worthy of love and respect as you are.
Please give yourself permission to believe it, to embrace it, and to live this important message. Let it permeate every cell in your body and guide your entire life, daily and unconditionally.
You are perfectly imperfect and whole as you are. You are never broken, helpless, or in need of repair, unless of course your limiting beliefs and seductive stories eclipse who you really are and convince you otherwise.
Your desire to grow and empower comes from a genuine place—to evolve into a better version of yourself. Not into one who is less broken and more whole, but into one who is accepting of “what is” while at the same time advocating for “what could be.”
At the funeral of this dear woman, the Rabbi shared a very moving story about worthiness that I would like to share with you here:
Long ago in a town in Israel, there lived a water bearer who owned two large pots; each hung on the end of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other was flawless and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream, the cracked pot would arrive only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, fully discharging its daily responsibility. But the poor cracked pot felt guilty because of its own imperfections and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
Perceiving itself to be a bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself—the crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. I am a bitter failure.”
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on that of the other pot? That’s because I have always known about your supposed ‘flaw’ and planted flower seeds on your side of the path; every day while we walk back, you’ve been watering them without fail and without self-congratulation! For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house!”
We all have our supposed flaws, inherent weaknesses, and imperfections—it’s a natural part of the human condition. When we can appreciate this, we can then learn how to recognize our weaknesses and nurture our strengths, changing because we want to and not because we have to.
We are all a package deal, each and every one of us—a mix of simple and complicated, of sweet and sour, of our very own versions of good and bad. There is no normal; there is only our perception of normal. And it is ultimately our thinking—our stories that define our reality.
As I wrote in my previous blog, we get to choose what we make anything and everything mean to us. We get to choose self-sabotage or self-compassion—cracked and “not good enough” or “good enough” and whole as we are. The ultimate decision is ALWAYS ours to make.
We must give ourselves permission to let go of our false beliefs and toxic stories in order to open ourselves up to and start living this truth.
May the souls of these two lovely women rest in peace, at last, together.