Breaking the Trance of Unworthiness

Alright, I confess that this blog has become more about me bitching and moaning about my current state of unhappiness and dissatisfaction than my own personal growth. We all do the best that we can. After a long and unproductive chat with SCL last night (in which he called me clingy--which I cannot completely disagree with), I woke up this morning feeling grouchy. I had a bad dream about our wedding--that we had 15 minutes to get ready, that no one showed up, and SCL picked out really ugly rings for us.

To tell you the truth, I've kind of had enough of this funk. And while this may not be the best place to begin a morning pre-work self-care, that is where I began. It was only this weekend when I finally unpacked my books, so I went searching for one that my college professor bought for me. It's called Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha by Tara Brach. Now, if you're not Buddhist, don't be thrown off. I'm not either. But I think there's a lot that the Buddhist traditions have to teach us, especially those of us who are Westerners.

Brach starts off by talking about her own journey through the trance of unworthiness  (in less mystical terms, the feeling that there's something wrong with me) into Radical Acceptance. Maybe it sounds a little hokey, but pretty much everything she says resonates with me. So why not give it a try.

What do SCL and the 84-year-old woman have in common? Me. I was just taking a shower when I thought to myself, "Rather than trying to deal with all of these individual relationships, why not focus on my own insecurity? Each difficult situation brings out some aspect of the same thing within me--that I don't feel worthy."

SCL says I'm clingy sometimes, which I can't deny. I've had the tendency to cling for as long as I can remember. I find one or even several relationships that I decide somehow will reflect my worth and lovableness. Rather than finding that worth within, I look for it in others. And it's so easy to do with a significant other who is supposed to be loving, caring, and supportive. What a fine line between healthy love and unhealthy neediness, and I'm afraid I've crossed it with SCL.

The first step, according to Brach, is to examine the prison I've put myself in. She suggests throughout the day asking, "Do I accept myself as I am?" The goal is not to be able to say "yes" every time (if that were the case, no book would be necessary, right?) but to start examining the thoughts and feelings I have about my entire self. The first time I thought, "I don't like how I feel the tightness of my shorts on my thighs. And I feel lazy for letting myself sleep until 8 this morning." A lot of judgment going on in this head of mine--and that was just one instance! Think about how much energy I am spending being self-critical. I would rather be able to use it on something more life-giving.

I'm really making it a point to read books that challenge me spiritually and personally. Please let me know what some of your favorites are.


  1. Wow. Word, sister. Word. I relate to/really like this a lot. My step-dad is Buddhist and a psychologist, so he frequently gave me books similar to this. I think the whole Buddhist way of thinking is so beautiful, intelligent and when it comes to finding peace with yourself, it actually works. If I go down the self-help route it always with Buddhist-type books.

    I like the book "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron. The author is a Buddhist monk and the book addresses those times in our life when like the title says, things fall apart. Rather than trying to escape our pain and suffering, Chodron writes about how moving toward the pain with the right mindset, and as a result finding indestructible truth and love. There really is some life changing advice in it. The quote that is forever burned in my brain is "only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us."

    It makes me have hope even in the worst of times--knowing that whatever crap is happening to me will only reveal more strength (assuming I survive, that is. Ha.).

    I am definitely going to pick up a copy of the book you talked about!! Thanks!

  2. Self-judgment can be the worse. I know I'm guilty of it. One day, I just want to write down every time I have a negative thought towards myself just to see WHAT I'm saying to myself, WHEN I'm saying it, and WHY I'm saying it.

    I would definitely recommend Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy, because it is such a life-changing book, in my eyes. It totally made me look at my relationship with God in a totally new light.

  3. Great post! You always have me reexamining my own situation and what I really want!

  4. Lilly--whoa, I'm sure you have much to teach me (and all of us)! I will definitely check that back out next.

    Stephany--girl, you are so right. I am my own worst critic. It's almost like there's a battle going on within, and the nasty side seems to be winning a lot lately.

    Jammer--I'm so glad. Trying to change things around and be more productive. I had gotten lost in a stream of negative thinking, so I'm trying to lure myself out of it. Won't be easy, but definitely worthwhile.