At some point in their journey with this work, everyone will encounter the idea of “becoming worthy.” Maybe it’s while practicing one of our Walking Meditations. Or it might be during a live event. Or at home in their personal practice.
Without context, it can be easy to make assumptions about what we mean when we use potentially charged words like “worthy.” All too often, our concept of worthiness can be folded into the stories we tell about ourselves and others – and become just another way to keep an old self alive.
Language is often imprecise and misconstrued. And so, sometimes the best way to understand the meaning behind a complex concept is by first talking about what it doesn’t mean.
What worthiness isn’t
Worthiness is not about blame. People often skew the idea of worth – and see it in terms of people “getting what they deserve.”
But worthiness is not something we use in the punitive sense. If someone comes to this work because of serious illness, or a painful relationship, or financial hardship, the concept of “worthiness” doesn’t correlate to the idea that they are – or someone else is – somehow at fault for the situation they’re in. All that does, in fact, is reinforce a way of looking at ourselves that isn’t loving or compassionate – in other words, the very opposite of seeing ourselves as worthy.
Worthiness is not about entitlement. In a culture fixated on affirmations and immediate gratification, people often confuse a state of readiness to receive with a sense of something being owed to them; something they should have coming because they “deserve” it or want it enough. It seems like a subtle distinction, but it’s actually one of the core differentiators of this work. When you want something, and push and strive for it, that is a function of trying to create in the 3-D world of matter to matter. You account for your desire – without much effort or time really invested into it – and then expect a result.
In this state, you’ll often hear people say things like, “Why haven’t I been healed yet?” “Why haven’t I found my ideal partner?” “Why don’t I have my dream job?” “Why is it taking so long?”
Why? Because they haven’t changed. They haven’t gotten up from their meditations every day as a different person. The person asking those questions is the same personality – the same old self – asking in separation from being the person who becomes healed in a state of gratitude; in separation from being the ideal partner by falling in love with themselves every day; in separation from living in the excitement of a new career.
The same old personality is not the person who asks, “What is it I still have to change about myself that will bring me closer to that particular future? How can I become more of that person in thought, deed, and emotion?”
What they’re really saying is, “I see the thing I want as somehow separate from who I am. I’m trying so hard. Why isn’t it here yet?” This perspective reinforces a sense of separateness and lack – of being apart from the future they’re trying to create; of seeing the things they desire as being out of reach. And separation and distance are the opposite of what we mean when we talk about worthiness – which is all about unity and connection.
Worthiness is not about self-importance and exclusivity. No one in this work – or this world – is better than anyone else. No matter their gender, position, race, belief system, or some other perceived status marker … worthiness is not based on a meritocracy or reward system.
The louder someone is proclaiming their favored status – as a means of demanding an expected result – the more they’re under the influence of their outer world (and, usually, tremendous insecurity). This, too, is a form of separation – and the opposite of humility, which is where worthiness lives.
What does feeling unworthy look like in your practice?
Now that we’ve explored some of what we don’t mean when we talk about worthiness, let’s examine how the above examples take shape in our lives.
First and foremost, unworthiness will present as resistance. That feeling when you don’t want to get up early for practice? That’s unworthiness. The nagging voice in your head during meditation that says, “I’m not doing this right. This is too hard. My knees hurt from all this sitting. It won’t matter if I skip the breath. I’ve got too many things to do today.” – that’s resistance.
And it won’t happen only in terms of your experience with this work. When you tell yourself it’s OK to skip your gym date even though your workout partner is waiting for you … or it doesn’t matter if you scroll through your social media feeds for hours instead of engaging in meaningful conversation with your spouse or children … or if you delay the promise you made to yourself to change a bad habit … that’s resistance. That’s what fuels unworthiness.
Unworthiness shows itself as fear of the unknown. Lack of discipline. Stopping when it gets uncomfortable. Not pushing yourself past the familiar. Asking why it hasn’t happened yet. Compulsively repeating the same thoughts, behaviors, and feelings – and garnering the same results and frustrations that have become comfortable. Reinforcing – and recreating – the known, even when it’s already proven to be what you don’t want.
Unworthiness, ultimately, leads to creating the same future – based in the known past.
What worthiness is: an invitation
Before we can begin to build a new future, we must first be at peace with the present. And that means letting go of the past – and all the unconscious thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that come with it. It means putting all your attention and energy on entering the unknown of the generous present moment – with willingness, curiosity, and gratitude for what already is. It’s when we have an uncompromising desire to get beyond the old self in separation – and become the new self, connected to a new personal reality.
When we talk about worthiness, then, we’re talking about meeting yourself with love and compassion in this moment. About accepting and allowing what is – with gratitude and humility. About seeing yourself as worthy of the new future you’re creating – because you’ve overcome the old self. Worthiness is about stretching beyond the known into the unknown … and being satisfied with your efforts.
It’s about overcoming resistance and consistently showing up for yourself, in this work, every day. And that’s what we’ll talk about in Becoming Worthy, Part II.