"Discovering Your Self-Worth"
by Dan Millman
"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.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, it comes to this: To discover your worth, you have to reach within yourself and find it there. You have to create it through worthy actions. The key is to remember that even though we don't feel very kind, or brave, or even deserving, the roof over our head continues to shelter us from storms, the sun shines upon us, our chairs keep supporting us, and so do our lives. Life itself is an unearned gift- and that is the hidden meaning of grace.
Grace reveals that only this moment is real. That past and future exist only in our minds. Your scorecard is wiped clean in any moment of awareness, humility, or repentance. If you have a debt to pay, then pay it in the currency of kindness to the person it is owed, not by punishing yourself, not ever again. It is not necessary. It never has been."
- Dan Millman,