Growing up, we are taught to abandon ourselves in lots of subtle ways.
We’re taught to reject certain feelings.
We’re taught that certain thoughts and fantasies are “bad.”
We’re taught that we are only acceptable or lovable if we conform to certain other people’s idea of what is acceptable and lovable.
When we’re taught over and over again that we have to “earn” the right to be loved, it sets us up for a life time of self-judgment and self-abandonment…not because we’re intentionally trying to judge or abandon ourselves, but because that’s the only thing we know.
When I tell people that they don’t have to “earn” the right to be loved, they really do look at me weird.
Hell, people look at me weird when I tell them they don’t have to “earn” the right to exist.
That’s how pervasive that particular belief is in our culture.
Can you imagine telling a little baby that they have to “earn” the right to exist or the right to be loved?
No matter what you have or haven’t achieved in your life, you are not a waste of space or oxygen.
Who convinced us that we are only “worthy” to live if we happen to contribute specific things to the world?
Don’t get me wrong: I like to feel that I’m contributing to the world. It feels good. I like to feel I’m making a difference in peoples’ lives.
But I’m here to tell you that you are worthy no matter what you do or don’t contribute.
We can contribute to other people and the world because it feels good— not because we’re trying to “earn” our “right” to consume space and oxygen.
There was a time when I was too flat on my back depressed to contribute ANYTHING to ANYONE.
These days I have more opportunities to contribute to people’s lives than I did back then— but is that to say the Glenn of 2021 is more “worthy” than the Glenn of 1997?
The Glenn of 1997 would agree with that.
The Glenn of 2021 does not.
When we’re depressed, we very often feel unworthy. We very often fall into the trap of believing we haven’t “earned” the space we take up in the world. We feel like a waste of space.
I promise you: you are not a waste of space.
Do not reject and abandon yourself by telling yourself you are a waste of space, because it just ain’t true.
We are not put here on this earth to achieve stuff. We’re not put here to live out anybody else’s fantasy about who and what we “should” be or do.
Every single person reading this gets to decide WHY they’re here.
Nobody reading this has to feel guilty that they didn’t live up to someone else’s standards of fantasies.
I hear you: we all want to imagine certain people being proud of us, approving of us, liking us.
I want that, too. It often feels good to live a life we can imagine certain people approving of.
When someone’s values are consistent with ours, living a life we imagine they’d approve of can be a signifier to us that we’re doing it right.
It’s just really important that we don’t conflate something feeling GOOD with something being a signifier of our existential worth.
We do not have to reject or abandon ourselves.
We do not have to fall into the conditional worthiness trap.
We can have our own back regardless of how we feel about ourselves at the moment.
Yes, it’s hard. It’s MUCH easier to have our own back, to be compassionate toward and accepting of ourselves, when we feel that our lives are going well and to plan.
But it’s when our lives AREN’T going so well that we really, really NEED to be there for ourselves.
Self-esteem begins with refusing to reject or abandon ourselves— no matter what.
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