For the past few days I have been feeling like a ragamuffin – that poor, dirty, disheveled child made famous by tales and images of Oliver Twist. This feeling was evoked by my running shoes. More specifically, this feeling was created each time I would find myself out and about running errands in my running shoes. For despite their continued comfort, support, and
functionality, the presence of two small wholes in the mesh structure of the shoes caused me a great deal of embarrassment and shame every time I would look down at my feet. In short, I feared that someone else would look down at my shoes and their haggard appearance and quickly make a value judgment about my worth as a person.
As I have had time to really sit with my own insecurities on this issue, I have realized that a number of things were triggered by my shoes less than pristine appearance. The first was that being a child on the playground who was “not cool” because I wore second hand hand-me-downs. The second was the awareness that at various points within my adult life I have felt a similar sense of insecurity regarding my likability, lovability, and acceptability based upon my appearance or what others thought of my appearance. The third, and perhaps the most profound, was the awareness that I myself evaluated my likability, lovability, acceptability, worthiness, and value based upon external factors.
So while there is a part of me that fears that another may never fully accept or value me if I don’t look valuable, worthy, acceptable, the person whose opinion is of the most critical importance to me feeling secure – the person who most needs to cherish, value, and worship my own inner light – is me.
The question I have for you, the question I am continuing to ask myself, is what other external factors might you be using as markers of internal self worth? What thoughts, ideas, or beliefs do you hold onto, even though they may evoke or reinforce a bit of emotional pain or suffering? These emotional pieces of baggage could be anything including old story that measures your likability based upon your relationship status, how your body looks, your job title, salary, level of responsibilities, or social prestige. Whatever that external factor is for you, I would like to invite you today to begin to notice and question these unconscious assumptions as they come up. For it is only by first by becoming aware of these thoughts, old stories, and beliefs, that we can begin to question and then change them.