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The Leverage for Change

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Self-worth is not a thing; it is a perception. Just as a gymnast begins a routine with ten points and receives deductions for each mistake, so you began life with a natural, complete sense of worth. (Have you ever met an infant with self-worth issues?) But as you grow, you serve as your own judge, deducting points when you misunderstand the nature of living and learning-when you forget you are a human-in-training and that making mistakes and having slips of integrity and mediocre moments are a part of life, not unforgivable sins.



What follows are some reminders that can help you to score your worth higher in the game of life. By shedding light of awareness and compassion on your own life, you can begin to meet your destiny with arms open wide.

You Are Not Alone:

The first step is to realize that you are not alone. We have all made mistakes as part of our life and growth. We have all said, thought, felt, and done things we regret. Our worth is not dependent upon being perfect. Many of us have fallen into self-defeating cycles-behaving badly, leading to a lowered sense of self-worth, leading to more negative behaviors. If we can stop judging our mistakes so harshly, we can also stop ourselves from reactively engaging in the negative behaviors.

Know That You Did the Best You Could:

The second realization is that no matter what your behavior, you have done the best you could every day of your life. You may not agree with this. So before we tackle that question, consider this principle in relation to your parents or other caregivers: whether they were kind or abusive, they were doing the best they knew how in light of their own limitations, wounds, beliefs, fears, values, and anxieties. Their best may have been wonderful, or terrible, or somewhere in between. In the same way, even though you have certainly fallen short of your ideal many times and made mistakes, you have also done the very best you were capable of at the time.

Apologize and Ask Forgiveness:

Most of us have replayed in our minds an incident we wish we could do over. Maybe we could have done better on a job interview, a speech, an exam, or a performance. Or we may wish we could take back hurtful actions-moments of disrespect or dishonesty.

You cannot change past mistakes, but you can avoid repeating them. The past no longer exists except as a set of memories and impressions you keep alive in the present. By focusing on doing what you can do now-by reviewing your mistakes with eyes of compassion and asking forgiveness-you do much to heal your fragmented sense of worth.

If you are sorry for never sending your mother a birthday card, send her a special one now. Even if she has passed away, write the card. And ask her forgiveness. If you hurt a brother, sister, parent, or other person, review that memory; then contact them, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. If they will not forgive you, then forgive them for not forgiving you. Then send them flowers or another gift, perhaps with a letter. Going inside and visualizing those you have hurt, and asking their forgiveness, provides a healing that begins to lift your sense of worth as it heals relationships.

Trust Your Process:

The next time you feel that something good can't last, remind yourself that evolution moves in an upward spiral and that life can, and usually does, get better over time. You live and learn, stumble and evolve, rise and fall, fail and grow, expand, progress. If you pay attention and strive to improve, you become stronger, clearer, wiser, and more capable. Life is a process of rediscovering your worth and the worth of all beings.

From: Everyday Enlightenment

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