Escaping The Self-Worth Circus

In my adult life, I have received the consistent message of all the ways I need to improve and perfect myself, to become worthy of love.

Some of these messages are implicit, some explicit. These messages follow this theme: If only I were worthy or enough somehow, I would finally experience some iteration of love from existence, society, culture, community, family, or a partner.

Let me be more clear about these iterations of love, by sharing a belief many of us hold: If I were _________ enough (and thus worthy), I could then experience my ultimate level of meaning, purpose, control, power, attractiveness, abundance, admiration in all realms, success in all forms, and finally attract the right partner, who I could live happily ever after with.

Something happened for me some time between ages 28 and 32. Call it Saturn Return, if you will, for all you astrology people out there. This “something” had me realize I was NEVER going to reach perfection. I was NEVER going to attain the worthiness or enoughness that would allow me to finally secure those iterations of love I share about, above. In fact, as I get older, I realize, if I play by these same beliefs and rules about deserving love, I will likely have to work harder to be “loved”, or at least find a way to sustain the same level of effort for the rest of my life. This is exhausting, AND unsustainable.

So, I gave up.

I started pissing people off. I started letting go. I started missing appointments and being flaky. I started not caring as much. I started to be more of my messy human self. I made impulsive, irrational decisions. I stopped trying as hard to be “good” and “enough”. I started FINALLY getting angry- like SEVERELY angry. Enraged, in fact. I started telling people off and being an asshole. I also started loving my self and people in different ways, and letting myself fail at this love, over and over again.

In this past year, in particular, I have lived a great experiment, which has involved me entirely changing the rules of engagement for my self and my life. I haven’t followed the rules I had created in the past, which were based on fear. Instead, I decided to throw them out, live without rules, learn to tolerate the terror of the unknown, and also start creating some softer guidelines, based on honoring the wisdom of the unknown, and finding my joy, passion, and love.

Initially, when in this new life, I repeatedly fell flat on my face, had a tantrum, and let fear take over, others noticed, and took it as an opportunity to give clear feedback that there was something very wrong with me, and my life. I started being rejected and dismissed, more than ever before. I started being shamed and told to shape up. People started to worry about me and be confused by me, because I no longer hid my messiness or my paradoxical actions, feelings, thoughts, decisions and desires. People distanced. People saw me as delusional. People saw me as destroying everything I had worked hard for. People reflected back that I was lost, and that I couldn’t trust my self. People reflected back that I was weak, and a victim, and that I needed saving from my self. People reflected back that I was broken. And, initially, I believed them.

I now could give two s***s about how anyone close to me thinks I should be living my life, and am extremely trusting of the wisdom in my own insight, process, and experience. Because, I now recognize 99% of us are still on the “I must earn love through first becoming worthy” hamster wheel, and any advice or reflections that come from this place, are extremely limited, and disrespectful of my, and our collective, humanity.

I have instead come to immensely value a (new) love that is communicated by my self and people in their own lives, and with one another, through being humble, acknowledging we have no clue how to deal with life and our unknowns, being in process, stepping beyond fear, attempting imperfectly to be extremely accountable and vulnerable, and respecting the beauty, wholeness, and rightness of heartbreak, failure, disappointment, feeling lost, and f$cking things up.

This grand experiment of love and living has now brought me to continually realizing a level of worthiness for love, that is inherently within me, that only I could recognize for my self. I call this unconditional love.

So, here I am, learning (and often “failing”) to live and love, with unconditional love.

My new guideline in life right now, is this: I will attempt to live life with joy, passion, impulse, and messiness, like I am authentically (and with accountability) f$cking up my chances at deserving love.

And, you know what, nothing has burned down, that didn’t already need to be burned.

Maybe you should try it, because what is on the other side, is freedom from the self-worth circus of attempting to deserve love.

Coach. Psychologist. Writing about new perspectives, love, relationships, Narcissism, healing, transformation, & culture. www.avapommerenkphd.com

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