How To Feel Worthy

by Mark Ivar Myhre on April 7, 2007

Ever felt unworthy?

Many people do.

There’s no substitute for self-worth.

Self-esteem is a different story.

Many substitutes exist for esteem.

Interestingly, most people seem to confuse self esteem with self worth.

Your esteem must be earned.

Your worth is given.

All humans are worthy. You can’t possibly do anything to become more worthy. Nor can you do anything to become LESS worthy.

If you’re alive and breathing, you’re 100% worthy. Everyone is.

It’s like sunbeams coming from the sun. Every sunbeam is worthy – because they each come from the same sun.

No sunbeam is more – or less – worthy than any other sunbeam.

Same with us.

We all come from the same source. We’re all equally worthy.

Worth is given. It can never be earned.

So why don’t we feel worthy?

Two basic reasons.

1. Shame.

If your parents felt unworthy – even if they never outwardly displayed it – then they probably passed those feelings on to you.

Maybe through the ‘vehicle’ of spankings, or abandonment, or some sort of emotional abuse. The vehicles for passing the shame of unworthiness are many and varied. And the vehicle often has tinted windows.

You thought they were raging about the spilled milk. But feelings of their own unworthiness were driving that vehicle of rage. You never saw past the rage.

Or the abandonment, or whatever the vehicle was.

That’s one way to end up feeling unworthy.

2. Not being responsible for your feelings.

If you honestly, fundamentally, and unshakingly believe emotions are bad and wrong and need to be avoided at all costs – that can also lead to feelings of unworthiness.

The more you believe emotions should be avoided or stuffed – the more hollow and empty you’ll feel inside.

The more hollow and empty you feel inside, the more unworthy you’ll feel.

It’s a slippery slope that starts with judging how you feel, and ends with feeling nothing.

The more unworthy you feel, the closer you’re getting to feeling nothing.

And if you’re feeling nothing, you’re most likely depressed.

Unworthiness – along with similar feelings – becomes like a prison that slowly closes in on you.

You want to avoid feeling it – but you keep brushing up against the walls of the prison.

So what do you do?

Well, a door exists that leads out of your prison. You just have to use it.

The door – the answer – is to feel those feelings you don’t want to feel.

First you ‘own’ those feelings. Then you can let them go.

Then you can just walk right out of your prison.

It’s that simple. It also can be extremely difficult. Because something is guarding your door of escape.

It’s the fundamental belief that feeling those feelings is WORSE than being in prison.

You don’t want to be in prison. But maybe you believe it’s better to be in prison than to be responsible for YOUR OWN feelings.

For some people, just reading these words will be enough to change:

“Wow! That makes sense, Mark!

“I was so afraid of my feelings of unworthiness that I was avoiding them at all costs. Well, no more…

“I’m going to own them – feel them – in all their painful glory – and them I’ll release them. So I can get out of this prison and start feeling the worth that’s my BIRTHRIGHT.

“And if the feelings of unworthiness come back tomorrow then I’ll repeat the process until they STOP coming back.

“And I’ll feel my worth – as totally and completely as I can. Always seeking to feel more…”

Or perhaps you’re thinking –

“I’m ALREADY feeling unworthy – you idiot!!! And nothings changing!”

If that’s the case, let me back up and explain what ‘own’ means…

First – here’s what owning your feelings doesn’t mean –

It doesn’t mean I get to use those feelings as a club to beat someone up with. Including myself.

It doesn’t mean – “I’m right” – and I have the right to feel unworthy.

Or – I get to avoid being responsible for my feelings.

Or- I get to blame. Or I get to underachieve. Or get to engage in any behavior I want because I’m entitled.

“Look how I’ve suffered.”

Basically, I don’t have to take out the garbage.

I get to tell myself a story about what those feelings mean.

I have no intention of releasing them. And every intention of proving you wrong, Mark!

No. Owning means – these are MY feelings. Maybe I ‘used’ them in the past. Maybe I’ve been telling myself a story up till now, but I’m willing to change. Starting right now.

I see the freedom that comes with ownership.

“That shiny new car in the garage is MINE!”

When you say you’re already feeling those feelings, and nothings changing – then most likely what you’ve been experiencing is a little bit of true feeling – and a whole lot of ‘made up story’.

It’s like breathing life into a monster. It takes a spark of real emotion – but only a spark – to make that monster story come alive.

The story is a coping mechanism. It’s an attempt to deal with feelings you don’t want to feel.

Because any time you ‘cleanly’ feel a feeling – you consume it as fuel.

Emotions are like jet fuel. They’re MEANT to be consumed.

It’s unnatural to feel the exact same thing day after day. If you keep feeling the exact same thing that means you’re not properly using your fuel.

Besides, everybody loves a good story!

You can take what I’m saying and liberate yourself – or you can use it to bolster your story. Make the walls of your prison just a little bit thicker…

If you want to end the feelings of unworthiness – then OWN THEM – admit to yourself you created the feelings and nobody else. They’re yours.

First – think about what I’m saying.

Second – feel as intensely as you can without thinking.

Third – think about it again.

Fourth – feel it again.

Go back and forth between thinking and feeling. That’s how you change.

Whether it’s unworthiness or anything else – consciously separate your thinking from your feeling. So you can engage each cleanly.

Have you ever dug a hole when the ground is saturated with water? The hole quickly fills up with water.

You can bail the water out of the hole, but it fills right back up again. How quickly it fills up depends upon the soil type. Sandy soils fill quickly. Clay soils take longer.

Regardless, it fills.

If you want to empty the water you must get down on your knees and scoop it out with a bucket or some sort of container.

You are the hole.

The water is your worth.

Left on it’s own, the hole will fill with water. You must DO something to be emptied.

Even if you were shamed, you must now keep the shame alive. You must keep bailing out the water.

It’s hard work, but it’s the only way to keep the story alive.

Remember, you can use these words to make a better bucket – to bail out your worth more ‘efficiently’….

To strengthen your little story.

Or you can use these words to ‘step outside the box’. Get those feelings churning and moving. Process them. Consume them. Eat them for lunch. Use them to become

You’re already worthy, anyway. You’re a sunbeam.

May as well feel it.


Anonymous November 25, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Thank you for enlightening me.
I understand my worthiness again. I am a Christian and I know better, I just forget when I'm in the self-pity mode. πŸ™‚

Small steps over time become big steps.

Thank you again.

Lishui February 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm

You’ve defined the razor’s edge. It’s a choice which side we fall onto.

Whenever we tolerate the intolerable, it comes out of ourselves, from our self-esteem or our belief about our self-worth. But it’s our choice whether to tolerate the intolerable.

thanks for this article!

Pablo May 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm

“It’s a slippery slope that starts with judging how you feel, and ends with feeling nothing”.

Man, ain’t that the truth. *Always* avoid dissecting your feelings and emotions — there’s no light that can reach them and you’ll end up thinking there’s none. I even got to the despairing point of believing I was a psychopath! I still struggle, but it’s getting more bearable : )

Thank you, Mark.

Kate Gladstone March 10, 2014 at 8:29 pm

I don’t understand HOW to do what this is about.: HOW to “own my feelings. Specifically, I don,t know how to perform Part Two of the four-part instruction you give:
“Second – feel as intensely as you can without thinking.”
I don’t know what “feeling without thinking” would be like, or how to do it, or how to know whether I’m doing it or not. (It would also be good to know how you β€” or someone β€” found out that it would work and would be safe: assuming that it would, because that isn’t any more obvious to me than “how to do it” is.)
Please provide instructions on how to do Part Two, amd please provide evidence that the process as a whole (all four steps) is safe and effective.

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