Worthy or Unworthy?
Whether I’m working with clients coming to me for psychological help, spiritual help or both, I notice a consistent pattern: everyone feels and believes themselves to be essentially unworthy. On an ego level this is usually because they’ve started to notice themselves and feel inferior in comparison to others, or because someone in authority over them keeps telling them they’re bad or wrong or awful or ugly or stupid or immoral or _______________________________ (fill in the blank with almost any negative quality).
Since I often work with people who’ve been severely traumatized (due to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and/or some type of neglect), the emotional and verbal degradation is often accompanied by actual injury to the body. When injury is added to insult, the client feels especially unworthy, often to the point of wanting to die by suicide.
On a psychological level, I work with such clients by demonstrating that it is the abuser who is primarily and essentially bad, and wrong, not the abused. I also help them to accurately assess their attributes during therapy, to notice their strengths, strengthen areas in which they need improvement, and learn from their mistakes.
However, if people are stable enough to go deeper, we look at what is considered the spiritual dimension. In that dimension, my observation is that this prevalent feeling of unworthiness is because everyone knows that their ‘individual self’ is made up of the chattering thoughts in their heads and the emotions that those thoughts produce. Somewhere within our body-mind we are aware that there is no substance to this ‘individual self’ since it ceases to exist whenever we stop thinking (or when others stop talking or writing about us or to us). Therefore, we ‘know’ it’s insubstantial nature, and so are always feeling it’s unworthiness as a smokescreen for the real problem: the ‘individual self’ doesn’t exist as anything but a mirage. If that is so, we don’t KNOW what we are without further inquiry, but we know we’re not the ‘individual self.’
Even if people can psychologically understand that they are essentially neither worthy nor unworthy, just existing (I AM) as a neutral entity that can think, say, or do ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things, there is still an underlying question. Is there a ‘self’ that needs to be seen as ‘worthy’ or ‘neutral’ or ‘unworthy?’ Or, is it truer to say there is no individual self at all? This question “what is the ‘me’?” is the essential question in self-inquiry.
May all beings who read this awaken in this lifetime: it is possible!