Chasing after self-worth is like a dog chasing its tail

 

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I had a dream the other night that seemed to be pointing to my oft feelings of low self-worth. In the dream I was both chasing and being chased and never getting to my goal.

Why is it so important to see my own worth, my own value, my own strengths? If something needs doing and I know intuitively that I can contribute and am dedicated to act on that intuition does it make any difference if I think I’ve got little or nothing to offer?

It seems to me that low self-worth is only important if I use it as an excuse to not contribute or to not act. Knowing at some level that I know something that can on occasion help others ought to be enough. Knowing that there’s something within me that can contribute if I let it seems to be more important than whether I feel good about it or about myself. I realize that it steals some part of my sense of aliveness but so what? If what I’m being enlivens another it might be enough. The satisfaction of having given from myself outside myself ought to be enough.

I’m tired of chasing self-worth. Sometimes I catch it but have never been able to hold onto it for very long. It’s not something I’ve ever been able to keep probably because I don’t ever think it’s real. Trying to attach certain talents to a sense of self-worth also seems a waste of time. I can see my talents or at least what I think are talents in the moment and I’m freely willing to give them away if necessary. What determines what’s necessary seems to be something deep inside, something other than my ego-self, i.e. that part of me that craves self-worth.

It is this deeper me that I’ve learned to trust. Whether that makes me a talented person of some worth seems irrelevant. Chasing it doesn’t seem to change my overall estimation of self so why bother? I know when I have something to give and can only hope that when given it is useful. Trying to get acknowledgment for the giving of something useful is also futile for my ego won’t accept it anyway, it’s primed only to reject. It’s an interesting creature this ego-self in that it longs to be accepted and yet rejects it when it comes around. It’s kind of like a self-involved and petty dictator.

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By Mark Lynch

Because I’ve learned that others need to know that their gifts to others or me have been received, welcomed, and made useful in order to feel complete I’ll acknowledge them. However, as you can guess in my case a gift of “Good work, Bob” or “you did a great job” will be acknowledged outwardly but almost never believed or if momentarily believed not held onto. The Bob Ego-self doesn’t believe it’s of much or any value. However, the “Deeper-Bob” knows otherwise so this is what I try to operate out of. When I operate out of Deeper-Bob incredible things can and do happen.

When I stop chasing my own metaphorical tail life becomes much less stressful.

 

A heart meditation: letting go

 

th.jpgOf late I’ve had a number of people write about dreams that included the concept of letting go e.g. death and dying images, dropping things, toilet images, even ghosts. Many of the dreams also included images from the past such as a childhood home.

Because most of us don’t really let go of past hurts in that we tend to deny them, push them down, and gloss them over as in “what’s past is past, or then was then” that in and of themselves is appropriate if what you’re actually doing is letting go of the events and hurts. But most of us aren’t letting go.

We tend to hold on to painful resentments, feelings, disappointments, grief, betrayals, guilt, and hurts by storing them in the footlocker of our unconscious mind. After many years and as many memories we have quite a treasury of buried material built up. These buried negatives are something like radioactive waste that after time begins to leak onto the surface of our lives, poisoning much of what we do and think and feel. Most of this stuff seems to arise uninvited, in our dreams, or in troubles we find ourselves in in our waking lives.

We seem to armor ourselves against any future pains by walling parts of us off, or putting up barriers to protect ourselves from others. It’s a slow process and for most of us we don’t notice how much different we are as adults than we were as children. The free expression of the self is often subdued, or cut off, the playful part of ourselves moderated, or pasted on to make it look as though we’re being a free spirit full of fun, where in the quiet of our own homes after the party we nurse the effects of our drug or alcohol induced gaiety and wonder if anyone actually really liked us or bought into our act.

All these stored negatives over time close our hearts to ourselves and to others and weighs us down.

So what to do?

Well, following the theme of letting go i.e. of unchaining from the past, I’ve found that there is an ancient practice that can literally transform one’s relationship with the past and lighten considerably their experience of the present. In short, it heals, it dissolves obstructions, and it opens the heart to other hearts. It shifts our identification with the negative and helps us to resolve the unresolved. It can even help us to regain a positive relationship with our own bodies.

What is this magic of what I speak? It’s called, forgiveness. Really! It’s forgiveness that can heal us back into our own hearts. It’s the letting go of resentments and negative self-judgments. It opens ones heart and lessens pains from the past. It helps us to get back in touch with our soulful, playful self.

When we accept ourselves and others for what we and they are i.e. “as is” it includes even their non acceptance of us. It allows the mind to get beyond it itself.

You can’t force forgiveness, that’s just more of the same old squashing down of negatives that caused the problem in the first place.

A forgiveness meditation:

As with the technique of Active Imagining http://thedreamingwizard.com/active-imagining_291.html Close your eyes in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and bring into your mind an image of someone for whom you have resentment. Make their image as real as you can even to the smell of them if you can.

For just a moment open your heart to them and notice your own fear, or anger, or whatever feelings that seem to arise. Keep looking at them and letting whatever your feeling just sit with you.

Now, look at them and slowly say, “I forgive you, I forgive you.” Watch your feelings as you do this, don’t do anything with them, just let them be there. Now say, “ I forgive you for the pain you have caused me whether you did it on purpose or by accident. Watch your feelings as you say this. “I forgive you for what you did, or didn’t do. I forgive you. I forgive you.

Watch the pain in your heart and see if you can let some of it go. Watch the person and let a little more of them into your heart. “I forgive you.” Let them be in the surrounding stillness. “I forgive.” Let them be as they are and in their own way of being. “I forgive you.” “I forgive you.” “I forgive.” Allow the distance between your hearts to dissolve. Allow them to be touched by your blessing and the potential of your forgiveness.

Now let the person leave when they are ready to go. Just watch them go and notice what you’re feeling as they go.

Open your eyes and sit in peace for a few moments.

The forgiveness meditation works but it often takes more than once. Keeping the heart open takes work and commitment, not to others but to yourself and your own sense of well-being. After many practices over time the forgiveness will stick and the heart expands.

 

The violence of the fearful mind

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I awoke one morning not too long ago to an off screen gunman shooting an automatic weapon causing all the people in the dream to drop to their bloody deaths. What kind of dream is this? I thought and then saw it as an allegory for the troubled world.

One needs only look around to see that the world is becoming more and more polarized and intolerant even when it’s abundantly clear that the intolerance doesn’t provide any greater safety, if anything it creates even less.

I spent the good part of an hour digging up what others had to say about the plague of intolerance and  present a few of my favorite ideas here.

 

Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.

Mahatma Gandhi

 There is no religion that was founded on intolerance – and no religion that does not value the sanctity of human life.

Mohamed ElBaradei

 Military dictatorship is born from the power of the gun, and so it undermines the concept of the rule of law and gives birth to a culture of might, a culture of weapons, violence and intolerance.

Benazir Bhutto

 Defeating racism, tribalism, intolerance and all forms of discrimination will liberate us all, victim and perpetrator alike.

Ban Ki-moon

 For Rumi, the 13th century poet intolerance is the absence of love and one cannot truly experience love unless he gives it to others.

I think that intolerance is also a form of bullying, it’s exclusionary and selects people out to be “less than” for no other reason than they are different or think and believe differently. It may have been part of a survival strategy when we were all running around in animal skins and huddled together in dark caves throwing stones and sharpened sticks at anything that was not of the family, or not of the tribe, but in the modern world where we all literally depend on one another in order to shelter and feed ourselves it’s archaic and self-defeating.

We cannot hide in the relative safety of the clan anymore in that it’s no longer a viable survival strategy. We truly need each other now and to ban something or someone merely because they’re different or have different ideas or beliefs is stone-age thinking.

One cannot hide from what is scary either by ignoring it or by trying to kill it. Ultimately we have to learn to live with our fears. We can’t kill everything that isn’t us– eventually we will turn the gun on ourselves. It’s a very simple rule that to live by the gun is to die by the gun and that violence only begets more violence. Look for yourself, is that not so?

All of it is of the ego and as such does not know love– it knows hate and fear, self-interest, and exclusion but shakes at the thought of love and inclusion for to love is to be vulnerable, something that ego fears a lot. The secret to cleansing the world of intolerance is to listen to each other, to be open to each other and to not shun and bully because of differences. We need to pay greater attention to potential ‘blendings’ instead of ‘scatterings’ in order to hear each other.

When we don’t listen it shuns the other’s point-of-view and frightens the mind into some kind of defensive posture and when consumed by fear human beings will do great horrors to each other, horrors that only drives the mind to even greater fears.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

 –Rumi

 We live our lives as separate and divided and through fear of the “other” we have dimmed the light of our true being and forced ourselves to only see the differences in us instead of our common core. If we could only learn to work as hard on dealing with our own shadows as much as we try to rid the world of the shadows of others, perhaps then we could see this core more brightly.

“There is a path from me to you
that I am constantly looking for, so I try to keep clear and still
 as water does with the moon.

This moment this love comes to rest in me,
 many beings in one being.

In one wheat grain a thousand sheaf stacks. 
Inside the needles eye, a turning night of stars.”

 –Rumi