Four reasons why unworthiness will short circuit your healing and recovery
How you think is your recovery.
Can it really be this simple? Probably not, but recovery is pretty close. How you think about your recovery IS your recovery.
Recently I asked the question, are you worthy of recovery? It is a powerful question. Asking questions is one of the best ways to get your mind to work for you rather than against you.
Look in the mirror and ask, “How do I see Myself?”
The answer to this question may be unsettling. Because if you think of yourself as undeserving, you will live that way. Dr. Paul Dunion has written about the four reasons that we hold on to a feeling of unworthiness:
- It will keep you safe. Unworthiness can drive you to avoid risk and to feel immune to responsibility for the outcome. The real risk is that unworthiness can become both a castle and a prison. The high walls will keep you safe, but the walls will also keep you inside.
- You will avoid difficult decisions. Feeling undeserving can let you off of the hook from making decisions because you aren’t really deserving of it, so why try? Making a choice can lead to painful disappointment and failure. Unworthiness can protect you from pain and hurt.
- It will help you to manage the expectations of others. “You shouldn’t expect too much of me since I probably won’t be able to deliver.”
- It will prevent you from having to deal with childhood issues. You won’t have to deal with your past if you feel that you don’t deserve more loving treatment. Adulthood will replay childhood themes unless you leave behind the belief that you don’t deserve love, kindness, joy and the best life that you can create for yourself.
The difference between entitlement and worthiness
Feeling entitled is believing that you deserve special treatment or privileges. Feeling worthy is believing that you deserve effort, attention or respect. Entitlement can be an attempt to control others in order to get our needs met. Worthiness is self-acceptance rather than control.
It can be tempting to believe that we are entitled to more success, happiness or good times. Entitlement leads to unhappiness and a lack of true fulfillment. We cannot feel genuinely satisfied because we are always comparing ourselves to someone else who has more than we do (more perceived success, influence, opportunities, or resources).
Worthiness allows us to breathe. It allows us to leave behind comparison or competition. It is the only path to finding true connection because we cannot love other people if we do not love ourselves.
Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect, and to be kind and affectionate toward ourselves. Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, p. 27
What’s on your worthiness list?
In her book, The Gifts of Imperfection (page 24), Brene Brown lists many of the worthiness prerequisites that we may hold onto:
- I’ll be worthy when I lose twenty pounds
- I’ll be worthy if I can get pregnant
- I’ll be worthy if I can get/stay sober
- I’ll be worthy if everyone thinks I’m a good parent
- I’ll be worthy if I can make a living selling my art
- I’ll be worthy when I can hold my marriage together
- I’ll be worthy when I can make partner
- I’ll be worthy when my parents finally approve
- I’ll be worthy if he calls back and asks me out
- I’ll be worthy when I can do it all and look like I’m not even trying
I can identify with several on the list and I could add a few of my own:
- I’ll be worthy when I have some more titles behind my name
- I’ll be worthy when I write a book
- I’ll be worthy when I have a bigger house
- I’ll be worthy when I can be in better control of my eating habits
What’s on your worthiness list? When you can keep the house clean all of the time? When you can be mistake-free? When you have more friends? When you reach a certain age? When you get in better shape? When you have a better boat/cabin/condo/car?
At the core is the message that we believe without challenging: “I am not worthy.” Remember, how you think about yourself IS your recovery. Are you ready to leave behind your feelings of unworthiness? Recovery is about recovering your sense of worthiness to live, to love and be loved, and to enjoy your life.
If recovery feels complicated, that is probably a sign that we are off track. It is hard, but not complicated. Our minds complicate things in order to avoid having to do the work. (For more on Addiction: A simple path, click on here.) How you and I think is our recovery.
I write articles about wellness, leadership, parenting and personal growth. My hope is to deliver the best content I can to inspire, to inform and to entertain. Sign up for my blog if you want to receive the latest and best of my writing. If you like what I have to say, please share my work with your friends.
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Keep it Real
Previously published by The Good Men Project
Photo by Bradley Gordon