I once gave a bag lady, on a New York street, a bag of fresh grapes thinking she would appreciate it.
Not so. She gave me a look of disgust and disappointment and then called me a b*tch. It’s not every day that someone calls me a b*tch, especially when I’ve just extended an act of kindness.
But I remember walking away from that incident feeling not a smidgen of sadness, rejection or unworthiness. I was genuinely fascinated and intrigued by her response. There was no question in my mind, that her response was all about her and who she was.
It had nothing at all to do with me. I knew deep in my heart that I wasn’t a b*tch.
I wish I could say I’ve had the same detached and curious response when lovers have left me, or when they’ve used harsh words to describe me. Or, when an employer preferred to hire someone else instead of me. Or, more recently in my coaching business, when I notice I’m not as successful as some of my peers at acquiring lots of clients and having them read my blog.
That’s when I wonder: how come I’m not fascinated, curious and intrigued by these incidences? How come I end up feeling wounded and unappreciated?
I’ve thought long and hard about this question, and the answer is a tough one to own.
It’s because there’s a part of me that believes I’m not good enough. For every partner who told me I was selfish, for every time I didn’t get the job or promotion and for every time I’ve gotten zero comments on my blog—it’s really because I’ve handed over my sense of self-worth to others and to circumstances to define and conclude who I am.
If I didn’t believe this, it wouldn’t hurt.
The truth is, who I am and how I show up in the world has always been in my own hands, and not in the hands of others or events. And what makes it hard to own this is that it reveals the truth of what I truly think about myself.
If I had felt confident and worthy in my past relationships, I would not have suffered the slings and arrows of harsh words and rejection to the extent that I did. Surely there would have been some sadness and disappointment—that’s to be expected—in the coaching world, we call that “clean pain.”
But, I could have also interpreted their rejection as their inability to see me the way I saw myself. Their rejection of me wasn’t about me, it was just about them and their preference. They were the ones that missed out on me.
Getting clear on what we truly think about ourselves can revolutionize our lives.
Doesn’t it make sense that if we’re going through life thinking that we’re not good enough or smart enough, we’re going to undermine our ability to succeed in whatever we do? And if we really know our worth, we won’t run the risk of getting derailed in the “dirty pain” of victimhood and shame.
The question really becomes: Who do we want to be in our relationships and our work or in anything? How do we want to show up? No matter how our relationships and career goals unfold—whether they succeed or fail–they have absolutely nothing to do with our self-worth.
They are just a vehicle we use to show up in life and be our wonderful selves.
Imagine if we could respond and interpret every crappy circumstance in the same way I responded to my bag lady—with curiosity, fascination and intrigue.
We would have much more energy if we didn’t waste so much time worrying about how others think about us, or what it means about our self-worth if we fail at something?
Imagine getting to the place where you know deep in your heart that you are worthy?
So, what is your opinion of yourself? What do you want your opinion of yourself to be?
Author: Linda Ford
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock