“You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside and hustle for your worthiness.” Brene Brown
My final semester of graduate school was over, and I found myself shaking with fear. At the time, I was 22 years old and felt as if I had been cast out into thin air in my graduate program. I dreamed of being a professor, studying, and writing, but deep down I thought, “I’m not smart enough. I don’t fit in here. No one likes me.”
When my religion professor announced that the final wasn’t a sit-down, bubble-in quiz, but a one-on-one translation, and I’d need to answer questions aloud, I knew I’d fail it epically, and I did. In tears, I ran from the room to add fuel to the flames.
It was too scary for me to even start, and I ended up failing it. My hands were shaking, and soon my teacher would know the truth: I didn’t belong there.
He was an incredibly smart professor, which intimidated me right away. The way I thought he spoke down to others, probably because his tone, diction, and vocabulary were academic (whether intentional or not), triggered a deep wound.
Since childhood I had developed a limiting belief: “I am not intelligent.” This followed me wherever I went.
My trust in others was always a factor at school and work. I also trusted them to take decisions. I looked up to other people to find the right answers. Then, I compared myself to those who had them. I felt insecure and dependent upon others. This is not the kind of leader that I imagined for myself.
It was the root of the shame I felt, and I allowed it to mean that I was stupid, I wasn’t worthy, and I would never succeed. My inner critic was always loud, eager to show me that I wasn’t worthy.
I am able to identify the origin of my limiting beliefs in childhood by a handful of memories.
My first grade teacher gave me a worksheet on math. In red, I got a zero on the top. That red marker, those questions and the feeling of being unworthy are all still etched in my mind. I didn’t understand the questions or why my classmates got ten out of ten, and I was too shy to ask or listen to the answer.
This was true throughout my entire school career. Understanding concepts took me longer than my classmates. I wanted to ask questions but was afraid I would look stupid or that I still wouldn’t understand, so I just avoided traditional learning all together.
I always looked around and thought, “If they understand it, so should I.” In other words, there is something wrong with me.
In the 90s, my blondeness and quirkiness were a common trait. My personality was friendly, funny and I enjoyed laughing so it was a common stereotype of a blonde airhead. This hurt me more than it ever was.
Even when the teasing was lighthearted and done by friends who loved me, it reinforced my belief that I wasn’t smart or good enough. This made me feel inadequate and locked me up in a cell because, no matter what I did or how much I got loved, it still made me feel like a failure.
This self-limiting belief was a part of my friendships. It caused me to feel insecure and unable to be myself in public. My friends were my priority. I prefered to listen and support them, champion their dreams, and not risk showing off my intellectual pursuits and leadership capabilities.
I now see I could excel in school and with relationships. But, because of my beliefs about myself, it was safer to hide my true worth. My nervous system was constantly in survival mode, so drawing attention to me was dangerous.
I prefer to be invisible and get through classes unnoticed. I preferred to focus on my friends’ problems and dreams because it felt safer than vulnerably sharing my own.
I didn’t attend my graduation from graduate school, and I did not complete my finals. I still passed, but I didn’t celebrate my accomplishment.
Although I had intended to write a thesis in fact, my guidance counselor (a different professor), discouraged it. She told me how much work it would be and that it wasn’t necessary to pass instead of motivating me to challenge myself. Writing was something I had always wanted to do, but I never believed enough in myself to speak up.
I have heard many stories from people just like me, and I realize that I am not alone in being sensitive. My differences were a mistake that I believed made me less competent than other people. However, I’m happy to report that I have never been stopped by these lessons.
Through time and awareness, I was able to heal my wounds and change the negative beliefs that were holding me back.
This is one of the most important steps you can make to eliminate shame from your life. You don’t have to feel ashamed about anything, whether it is from your childhood or a trauma, addictions, sexuality issues, or any other reason. There is help available and there are many people who can help you.
At the present moment, I don’t allow this feeling of shame to run my life. When it happens, I recognize it and don’t value its protection. The inner work has helped me heal.
Talking to someone about it was the first thing I did. Let it all out. It is important to shine a light on it. If we want to heal or change anything in our lives, we have to be honest about what we want and what we’re afraid of.
Once I did that I realized many other people had the same fear and that it wasn’t true.
It wasn’t true that I wasn’t smart enough. There was evidence to prove this. I’d been accepted to programs; I’d passed classes; I understood challenging ideas. Research and writing were my passions. I was always open to receiving feedback to help me improve. I even had a graduate degree.
Learning new skills was possible in an environment that is supportive and safe for me as well as my sensitive nervous system. My abilities were better when I was surrounded by people and received one-on-one guidance.
Knowing that didn’t mean the wound was no longer triggered, but it meant that I had the awareness to soothe myself when it was.
It meant that it hurt, but I didn’t allow it to stop me from moving forward. Instead I allowed myself to feel the pain, while encouraging myself and reminding me of the truth that I was unlimited and deserving of acceptance and love.
It can cause us immense internal pain when we believe lies about ourselves. This pain can be a call to action. It is an invitation for us to look deeper and expose our lies, question them, and find a new belief that allows us the opportunity feel proud rather than ashamed.
It was me who I most desired approval from. It was my responsibility to accept and love myself regardless of what I thought. It was important to feel safe and secure in my own skin. When I did this, my love for myself was returned tenfold.
Everyone has fears and limitations and is subject to shame. All healthy individuals share these human characteristics, which means that they are a common challenge.
Instead of hiding them, numbing them, and burying them deep within, share them in a safe space, shine a light on them so the truth can emerge, and take your power back by feeling the emotions while knowing the truth: No matter what lies you’ve told yourself, you are good enough and worthy of love.
Orly Levy, an intuitive life coach and writer. Her guidance is for sensitive souls who struggle to recognize their talents. She offers one-on-one sessions to help others connect with the “what is”, release blocks, and reconnect with their intuition to find true peace. Visit her virtual home for tools, to schedule a free session, and follow her on Instagram.
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The post The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Our Worth and How I’ve Let Them Go appeared first on Tiny Buddha.