Learn How to Value Yourself

The following is an excerpt from You Were Not Born to Suffer by Blake D Bauer. Text copyright © Blake D Bauer. All rights reserved. Published by Watkins.

It’s often not until we allow other people to treat us horribly and therefore feel worthless or valueless that we realize our approach to life truly needs to change. Unfortunately, things have to get seriously bad, painful or out of control for most of us before we realize how important it is to honour and value ourselves consistently in every moment, situation and relationship. For those of us who often feel inadequate, insecure, undeserving or unworthy of love, we will constantly abandon and betray ourselves for the love of others to the point where we repeatedly find ourselves in situations where we feel used, unappreciated, valueless or worthless to those around us as well as to ourselves. Underneath these painful situations, however, is the empowering truth that we’re not actually victims in any way. We’re actually the ones who’ve compromised ourselves for the conditional acceptance, approval, attention and support of other people and thus we can change this self-destructive pattern. We can make a different choice now.

What most of us don’t realize until we’ve allowed our own sense of self-worth and self-respect to reach zero is that in every moment we do not value ourselves, we are abandoning and hurting ourselves far more deeply than we know. This hurt that we unconsciously inflict upon ourselves then creates deep anger, shame, frustration, resentment, hatred and dissatisfaction within us that we hold towards ourselves. In every moment we’re either being true to ourselves or we’re compromising ourselves. So in each situation that we allow our fears of losing love, acceptance, approval, attention, security or support to determine our choices and actions, we add to the build-up of pain, sadness and inner dis-ease that we’ve already created for ourselves by betraying ourselves so much throughout our lives.

Most of us never felt safe enough as children to fully be ourselves or to express everything we feel, think, want or need. As a result, our instincts led all of us to fragment ourselves in exchange for the conditional love we felt we needed from our parents, our teachers, our peers and our caregivers just to survive. These deep fears that we all carry forward to some degree then lead us to betray ourselves as adults. Whether it’s with our parents, our children, other family members, our spouse, our partner, our friends, our colleagues, our employers or our employees, most of us still abandon our inner truths in exchange for something.

This soul-destroying exchange might come in the form of wanting to fit in, to avoid confrontation, to be accepted, to attract attention, to be approved of, to feel safe or to have financial security. It may also come in the form of desiring fame, companionship, pleasure or sex. Regardless of who or what we’ve compromised ourselves for over the years, a large number of us have created a completely compromised life because we didn’t know better and we never learned how to break through our fears of losing love and security to always be true to who we genuinely are.

Feeling unlovable or undeserving of love, just as we are, is no way to live. But there’s a grey area in our psyche and heart where we feel valueless or worthless, and it needs to be healed for us to be happy and well. This blind spot in our awareness drives many of us to stay in situations, relationships and jobs that do not reflect our true feelings, ultimately because we hold the destructive belief that no one else will stand by us, love us or employ us if we genuinely value ourselves. It’s heart-breaking that so many of us live believing that we lack something within ourselves, which renders us unworthy of love, happiness and respect. Even though this is completely untrue, we still end up hurting ourselves because we feel the only way to be loved, accepted, approved of or supported by other people or by a business is to please them and make them happy, even if it’s at the expense of our own integrity, happiness or wellbeing.

This self-destructive pattern of relating to ourselves leads us to live out the majority of our days disregarding our own values and needs for this tainted form of love. This is how our lives become a constant struggle to please others while deep down we remain tense, bitter, alone and unsatisfied. What we fail to realize is that simply by valuing ourselves in each situation, starting now, we can heal our core inadequacies and insecurities and eventually discover that we’ve always been worthy of all things good, nourishing and beautiful.

Learning to value the very deepest parts of ourselves is often a painful stage in our awakening, through which we finally claim the intrinsic worth of our lives in and of themselves. Regardless of how it appears from the outside, we all live with parts of ourselves that are like dark rooms in which fragments of our soul feel mistreated or abandoned, and it seems as though no one is listening to our pain-filled cries. Ironically, it is ourselves whom we’re calling out to, asking our higher self to turn on the lights and flood these dark spaces within us with a deep self-love, care and respect. When we’ve lived believing and feeling that we’re not lovable or deserving of love, we find that there exists a number of these ‘dark rooms’ or ‘blind spots’ within us that are devoid of self-value and self-worth. It’s often not until we allow ourselves to be used or taken advantage of that we realize that we are in fact the ones who have somehow betrayed ourselves.

If we still need to master this lesson, then each day we will purposefully create situations where we invite people into our lives to exploit us or test us, which reveals the wounded parts of ourselves that are still hurting and waiting to be rescued by our own loving care. Through our desires for peace, health, happiness and authentic connection our soul calls us home and asks us to turn on the lights in these parts of ourselves so we can assert from deep inside our being that we do not want to allow or create any more suffering for ourselves. Once we finally make this assertion, courage begins to arise within us so we can stand strong and flood these once darkened spaces with a knowing that we’ve always deserved genuine love, kindness and respect.

It’s helpful to know that these parts of ourselves that are temporarily devoid of awareness and love are the sole causes for the situations in our lives where we do not feel valued, appreciated or respected by other people. If we don’t value and respect ourselves, the people around us will mirror this back. If we don’t matter to ourselves, then our feelings, needs and desires won’t matter to those around us either. Once we finally commit to enlightening these love-deprived spaces within us, we’re called to honour our true feelings in every aspect of our personal and professional lives. This unavoidable process of re-creating our inner relationship with ourselves is often one of the most difficult aspects of our ongoing healing and spiritual journey, because it requires us to value ourselves enough to either re-create or leave behind every situation that does not mirror back our newfound self-respect and self-worth.

On a practical level, honouring ourselves means saying no sometimes; it often means we stand strongly in our truth, with kindness, respect and vulnerability, and then face whatever reactions arise when we do not speak and act merely to please others or to make them happy. Sometimes valuing ourselves means we need to leave a relationship, a job or a certain place, knowing deep down that our daily integrity, health and happiness are more important than the safety and security of cold, heartless, financial or material comfort.

I have observed that once we’ve suffered enough and are thus ready to value ourselves without compromising our inner truths for anyone or anything, life and the universe will always step up to help us on our destined path. We cannot know exactly how circumstances will unfold to provide us with precisely what we need to move forward, but we can always be certain that we’ll be supported in fulfilling our life’s purpose to bring love, joy and truth into the world. The opportunities, emotional help, financial resources and clarity we need do arise with each courageous step we take into the unknown territory of deep self-respect.

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