Professional Student of Life
Adventures in personal growth
The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. ~Maya Angelou
I just returned from a silent retreat. For some reason, the theme that kept repeating in my meditations and thoughts over those two weeks was the idea of worthiness. Maybe it’s because, without the words we normally use to establish our worthiness in others’ eyes – our place in the social pecking order – I was feeling a little lost. We get a sense of who we are from how other people react to us.
When we drop words, we drop a lot of our shields and talismans. Nobody knows our names, where we come from, what we do, who we are. We don’t have the trappings of ego to proclaim our worth, our right to take up space. We just are, neither better nor worse than any other body there.
Words are also a shield we use to protect us from ourselves. Establishing and maintaining social connections normally takes up a lot of our time and energy. It can be a little scary to be thrown entirely on our own resources. What do we think about all day when we don’t have the distractions of everyday life and social interactions? Who are we really, when we aren’t what other people think of us?
During a guided meditation one day, we were asked to think of something we wanted to give in exchange for our deepest desires. A phrase floated into my mind that I’ve never consciously thought of before: self-devotion. I felt so surprised by it – I’m normally one of those people who thinks in terms of showing devotion to others, not myself.
As I meditated more on it, I realized that my sense of worthiness is contingent, not inherent. I feel worthy if I devote myself to others, but not worthy of self-devotion. That was a big concept to swallow. What would it mean to truly be worthy, in and of myself? How would I regard myself, and how would I treat myself, if I were truly devoted to me?
We talk a lot about self-love, but devotion seems to go much further than that watered–down concept. If you are devoted to someone, you truly see that person, know them on an intimate level, and passionately want what is best for them. They are inherently worthy in your eyes. Could I feel that way about myself? Could I somehow unhook my own sense of worth from the way other people view me?
It’s not something that happens overnight, but I’m watching myself, now that I’m aware. I’m making a conscious decision to see myself as inherently worthy – even worthy of my own devotion.
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