I’ve been on this path for a long time, the self-acceptance path. I turn 43 this year and before the year 2000 I was pretty much asleep, most of the time. I had very low self-esteem; I had no concept of self-love, self-care or self-compassion. Instead I adopted the coping mechanisms of over-eating and drinking alcohol. I really didn’t like myself, but I had no awareness that I didn’t like myself. I masked these feelings through distraction.
In 2000 I started my spiritual journey, not a religious journey, but an opening of the heart journey. My eyes were opened wide to the bigger picture of life and I tried everything I could to feel better about life and who I was. I didn’t want a hard path. I wanted an easy, fix-it-all path. Little did I know that ‘the journey’ is an unfolding one and that the path of transformation is like the layers of an onion. With each new choice and step we peel away another layer of the old story.
Fast forward to today
I have come a long way from who I used to be. Who I used to be disliked herself, who I used to be was in a deep pain, who I used to be fought and resisted her feelings completely and who I used to be never saw any light in me.
Who I am now is someone who allows my feelings to arise and I accept them, most of the time. Sometimes I don’t, being human has that affect. That onion continues, or rather that spiral, not going backwards just upwards. And yet while I have come a long way, I am not yet comfortable with my light and so the world praises my light to draw attention to what I need to accept and embrace now.
For most of my life I hid in the shadows, preferring the darkness. This past couple of years I started to come out from my cave. I removed my invisibility cloak and started to let the world see me and hear me via my blog, my books, my podcast and soon to come the new mental health radio station Peace Within Radio and yet I still struggle to understand why people praise me?
I know intellectually why. I get it. I know I am doing a lot to support, encourage and soothe other people and doing all I can to make a difference, but I am not able to fully absorb who I am or what I do, yet.
It often comes as a complete surprise when someone tells me my book has changed their life or my posts on social media have really helped them on that day or someone listens to my podcast or watches my videos and it helps them not feel alone anymore. I hear people say this to me and yet there is still a loud voice saying, ‘I don’t understand. Why do they think that way?’
The world mirrors the best of us and the worst of us; it mirrors our shadow when everyone we meet may be angry or upset; it mirrors our inner critic when we are being super critical of ourselves AND yet… I now realise it mirrors our light, especially if that light inside is growing brighter even if we are not able to acknowledge it ourselves.
A part of me was taught not to brag or boast, so I hid my light for a long time and in a way I think a part of me is reluctant to feel good about the impact or difference that I do make, because a part of me fears losing myself to my ego. And this is where the balance needs to be.
I find that when I free my voice or share my journey, especially verbally, I heal me. Being creative, supporting others to empower who they are, enables me to empower who I am. What I teach, if I were to call myself a teacher, is what I am learning as I go and as I grow.
How We Value Worth
I think one of the life lessons I have this lifetime is to balance giving and sharing and feeling deserving and worthy of receiving for sharing my gifts. I was brought up in a family that valued how much money you earn as a deciding factor of your worth. So, as I am not being paid for all that I do, my worth is still feeling hit. This is a belief system that needs acknowledging, loving and gracefully letting go of.
It doesn’t feel an easy thing for me to surrender to.
We all need to pay the bills and put food in our belly, but even as I share my gifts and give all my heart, there is a loud voice in my head saying ‘But it’s not enough, you’re not being paid or getting any money for any of this and until you do, you will never be enough’.
As I write this, I feel tears filling my eyes. This post was meant to be a post about not being able to receive praise, but as I write I heal, and intuition flows through me.
There is shame still inside me that needs my love and understanding. To know that my value and worth does not come from how much money I earn or don’t earn.
I know people who earn a lot of money but who do not seem happy or satisfied in life, so it’s all about our values. And what about people who are homeless, are they not enough? Do they not have value or worth? This is something I need to process more.
And as I open to this idea, I am also hearing another voice saying ‘Yes you can find your value and worth without money, but you’re still poor and only just survive, you’re not thriving Kelly’.
I would like greater choices in my life. I would like to go shopping and when choosing gifts for friends or family, to not feel sad that I can never buy the things I want, but that I am willing to buy them for others. Not because I hold back, but because money has been limited so I have to make specific choices. I no longer wish for it to be limited. And I guess it’s my choice that I buy birthday gifts for people that I want myself, so I choose to give to others instead of giving to myself.
I understand how so many people feel who suffer from mental health issues, who may also feel poor financially. It can be really hard in this materialistic society to look at the empty purse or wallet and not feel lack, shame or an inability to take care of self. And while many would say focus on what you love and you will get more, they obviously have not been on the breadline wondering whether they can afford toothpaste that month.
Although I love my home, my garden and I feel deep appreciation for my world around me, this does not stop me wanting better for myself and wanting greater choice. It hurts a lot, it dents my sense of worth. It makes me feel like a fake when I help others, but I am human and while others may have issues in different areas these are my areas that I am working through.
Value – worth – money – love – connection.
So How to Face This Discomfort With Praise?
So back to praise…. after that rather long detour into money and worth.
If we find it difficult to receive praise, we need to look to see why.
How do we value who we are? What is worth to us? What is ‘good enough’ and how do we go past the beliefs that hold us back?
This is a deeply personal journey.
We first need to:
- Acknowledge that the world is seeing who we really are, even if we are unable to at this time. Our light is beautiful and lovable, regardless of our own beliefs that we are carrying.
- Address what part of their praise is strange or uncomfortable to us? Do we feel shame? Do we feel like a fake? Do we feel we don’t deserve the kind words? Do we feel we are not good people behind our private doors?
- And once we understand this, we start to take it apart and find ways to clear the old beliefs and stories, be it alone or through the help of a therapist or counsellor.
So the next time the world reflects your light and you turn away or find it hard to take in, stop for a moment and breath into your heart. Is there resistance there? What’s it all about?
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