You have to believe your worthiness. You have to know your worth.
A huge part of understanding your worth is knowing your void. Knowing your value is knowing your vacuum. The moment - the second - we feel unworthy, we create voids in ourselves. And then, we try to fill that void. I suck at knowing that I’m enough. I also partner that sentiment with thinking that I am unlovable. So what do I do with the not-enough-ness and unloveable-ness? I overcompensate.
Let me SHOW you that I am enough. Let me DO so many things to prove my worthiness. Did you know I play the piano? Not only that but that I also used to play concerts!? Not impressive enough? I did it blindfolded with only my left hand! Do you see what I just did? I am not entirely overcompensating. I am embellishing my truth even though my reality is pretty damn impressive and more than sufficient.
I do the same thing with my unloveable belief. Do you see how much I love you? I just cooked you the best meal, cleaned the house, and wrote you a card! Did you notice that it was your favorite meal, that I cleaned the bathroom that you commented on this morning, and that the card had your kind of humor in it? Do you see the implicit question? Did you notice me enough for you to love me? Did you notice me enough to prove that I am worthy of your love? Talk about a void in knowing my worth!
No wonder why I have overworked myself for way too long. No wonder why I am like a little puppy when friends (or administrators!) are around me. No wonder why I prioritize impressing others instead of sitting in the warm glow of my sufficiency!
And every time I throw sh*t into that void to try and fill it, I only make the vacuum deeper, broader, and more impossible to get out of.
So, you have to start with being able to name your void. If you are like any living, breathing human, you are likely to have multiple voids. (Trust me, I have many more voids. Let’s add DENIAL to the list while we’re at it!) You have to name it, and you have to extract it from you. It goes something like this:
“I see, feel, and know that I feel unworthy. I am done with that thought. I am done with that feeling. I am done with making that my reality. I let it go. I will not bury it or avoid it or overcompensate for it. I am done with it, and I let it go.” (And then visualize that sh*t leaving your system!)
“I see, feel, and know that I feel unlovable. I am loved. I am very loved. There is no more space in my heart, mind, or sound for that lie. I am extracting it from my life. Goodbye, unloveable lies! I let you go. I will not secretly save you from a pity party. You will not make a comeback in my life. I am done with you. I let you go.” (And then wave goodbye to your unlovability.)
This is not a one-and-done thing. You have to make a habit of this. You have to do this vital sh*t for AT LEAST two months for it to start sticking. You have to believe it at your core for it to be real. For it to happen. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.
It was super hard - as in sh*tty, horrible, no thank you, don’t tell me this! - to realize and continue to recognize that no one and nothing can fill my voids. If I am looking for my students to fill my voids, I’m mistaken. If I am looking for my administration to fill my voids, I better stop teaching! If I am looking for families to fill my voids, I am searching for something impossible. Something I’ve learned while teaching kindergarteners is that I can do everything in my power to give them the best, bravest environment and fluff the dendrites in their brains, but they develop as quickly as they are capable of. I can’t force their minds to be a reader in a day. I can’t make their little fingers figure out buttoning up jackets in a week. It happens when it happens. And it’s a beautiful miracle when it does! Looking for other people and other things is like me trying to force a kid to become a reader or a jacket-buttoner. It’s not going to happen. At least not how I want and need it and probably not on my time frame.
When I go deep within and look at my voids (especially my unworthiness and my unlovability), I can see what my work to do is and what is others work to do.
I’ll give you a hint: It’s ALL my work to do.
Support systems are great. Kindness cards from a gaggle of kindergarteners are a treat. Random encouragement from people around me gives me a burst of energy. But no one can do my work for me. I will repeat this again and again until I get it and you get it: No one can do my craft for me. I am the only one responsible for filling my void. I am the only one who can fill my void. No one can do your work for you. You are the only one responsible for overflowing your void. You are the only one who can fill your void.
It’s funny because I explain this to parents all the time with the Chair Example. I will describe the Chair Example, but you really must see it live for the full effect. Whenever parents or administration insist that I or our school or their child could or should do more (and interestingly enough, seem to always leave themselves out of this “question”), I consistently show them a kindergarten chair. The standard kindergarten chair has four legs on it - all equal length. I explain that this chair is the overall wellbeing of their child. I tell them that even if I did more work for them (and I pretend to extend the leg of the chair), the chair would topple over. I show them that if our school did more work for them (and I continue to pretend to extend another leg of the chair), the chair would crash down. Then, I keep showing them that if I don’t do my work (or...ahem...they don’t do their job), the chair would have a short leg or two and still be off-balanced. The point of this Works-Every-Time Visual of the Chair Example? Everyone has to do their part. I can’t do the work of the parent. The parent can’t do the job of the child. The child can’t do the work of the school system. The school system can’t do my work. Everyone has to do their good, hard, tedious, tiresome, WORTH IT work. Everyone has to do their part. I have to do my part. You have to do your part.
You are worthy. Period. Period. Period. I am worthy. Period. Period. Period. What happened that scrambled this message in, I believe, the majority of us growing up? I think it’s just that. A message. We got a mixed message growing up. You are worthy when you do this, this, and this. But you better not do that! Or that! Or that! Since we couldn’t do “that,” we had to start aligning our worth and love with the worth and love of others. We had to start hoping that others could fill our void. That void-filling became a habit that carried on into our adult lives. Now, as a Changemaker, we wax and wane between being the best Changemaker we know and being the dependent kid who became so good at doing this, this, and this but never got to explore “that” over there. In return, we continue to have voids that we try to fill with everything possible. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many people (and Changemakers!) are perfectionists. It’s a “socially approved” vice that we can hide under the guise of being a hard worker.
I will name it. I try to fill my voids by doing everything just right in hopes of getting something that I can only get deeply and fully from myself. Oh, there are so many days when I wish doing things “perfectly” could be enough to show me that I am enough! Oh, there have been so many moments when I wish that all the “gold stickers” I was earning through my superior skills could be so lovely that I could know that I was lovable and loved.
Nope. Nope. Nope. That’s my work. That’s my kind, hard, tedious, tiresome, WORTH IT work. It is yours too. But there is something so beautiful that happens when you look at your deep sh*tty voids. It’s the most beautiful truth. You get to see that your voids are only as deep as you let them become. You get to look at that your voids are easy to fill but not with workaholism or any other -isms and distractions. You get to fill your voids with radical acceptance, loving-kindness, persistent curiosity, and intense gratitude. You have the cement truck waiting for you to fill up those sh*tty voids. Nothing fills a void like radical acceptance, loving-kindness, persistent curiosity, and intense gratitude. Know you void. Fill yourself up. You are the only one who can do it. You and me both. But not me or you doing it for the other.