How important is self worth in healing?
Improving self worth is of utmost importance! Believing that you don’t deserve to heal is one of the biggest blocks to healing. And just going from undeserving to deserving is healing itself.
I feel honored everyday that I get to witness my clients’ shift in their self worth, from unworthy to worthy; first in small ways and then in big ways. I will show you how…
Coming from unworthy
For some, the unworthiness runs deep and has been running a long time. It comes in a voice from the past. It is often the voice of someone who should have been trustworthy- a parent, an uncle, a grandparent. But instead this person told them that they were stupid and not good enough in speech and in action every chance they got. The voice stays with people, long past the end of the abusers’ life, and it is dreadfully hard to get rid of. It defines for them who they are and what their position in the world is: loser, disgusting, subhuman, undeserving.
When this kind of verbal degrading is combined with physical and or sexual abuse, it can be worse. Mostly because people blame themselves for the abuse they received.
It is a strange thing we do, blaming ourselves when people hurt us, but we all do it.
What’s worse, not only do we blame ourselves for the abuse, but think ourselves unworthy of forgiveness.
I was talking to a young woman yesterday who survived abuse in some ways similar to another client who had been tortured in a prison camp. It was unimaginable what she endured. She was telling me that she doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. I asked how does someone “be deserving”? This stumped her. She spoke about remorse. She told a story of a terrorist killing many people and then feeling remorse. She said he was worthy of forgiveness. I said, you would forgive that but not yourself?
I had invited her to a distant view of herself, where she could see a different perspective. She wasn’t herself anymore but an observer to herself. From this position her non forgiveness was ridiculous. She quoted her mother to me:
“If God can forgive me, I must be able to forgive myself, because, what? Do I think I am better than God?”
We need to forgive ourselves to feel worth
We must think that we are worthy of healing, or forgiving ourselves (since this is the key to healing) or we cannot take another step. But how to we do this? The idea that we are unworthy has a truth status in our mind. We hold it like it is a fact. We also hold onto tons of evidence to “prove” this fact. “I failed at school.” Or “I messed up this relationship.” “The unworthiness must be right,” we think. Unfortunately, the skills and knowledges these people use to survive and still now be kind to others are invisible. Only the failures get airtime.
To finding self worth
But, unworthiness is not a fact, it is just an idea, a belief. Facts are hard to change, ideas and beliefs are easier. We need to begin to break down the truth status. Trying to do affirmations of the opposite is too far a stretch. Telling ourselves that we are awesome might not be initiatively believable. I know you are awesome but it is too far a gap to jump, from believing as truth that you are a loser in the biggest sense of the word — to you are awesome and worthy.
It may take smaller steps. Like infiltrating in the brain: “It might be possible that I contribute in some way to someone else’s life.” Once this is believed, you can take another step, gathering evidence. “I contributed to someone once, I helped Josie with her work.” It is also helpful to see oneself through others eyes. People who care about you can see more in you than you see in yourself. Your eyes are clouded right now. Spend time with these people so your worth (to them) is constantly reflected back. Being isolated is the worst thing someone can do when they are feeling this bad.
Taking it step by step, we break down the iron clad wall of unworthiness so we can let the healing in.