We learn who we are and what we're worth by the way we're loved as little people. Little people require an enormous investment of time and attention in order to develop properly. In fact, babies who are not held and loved on enough will stop growing and eventually die. Intimate connection and gentle touch are literally vital to human survival.
My upbringing was largely very loving, but it was also chaotic- marked by addiction and all the behaviors that accompany that. Children of addicts often grow up believing that there is something wrong with them, that they are the cause of the chaos and their parent's behavior. Children are egomaniacs who believe that everything is an extension of them. Some people get taller but never stop believing that. I digress.
My egomaniacal baby brain did a gross misread of my childhood family life. It interpreted the chaos as being caused by some fundamental flaw in my makeup. The story it wrote painted me as a weird, bad girl, and I've spent my life with that false base assumption planted deep in my subconscious, coloring everything I see. Every situation I entered, I would be silently, unknowingly asking the people around me, "Am I okay?"
In no context was this need for affirmation deeper than in my romantic partnerships. And because I had been conditioned to expect love to be hard to come by, I chose partner after partner who withheld their attention and affection. Sick, right? This interplay between desperately wanting to disprove the false base assumption, but also the strict adherence to its rules. Because if love was as freely and easily given as it ought to be, what would we even do with ourselves? If I'm not a weird, bad girl, who am I? How does a happy, healthy, wholly good girl move through life?
This identification of our base assumptions and clarification of our identity is the most important work of our adulthood. If you are moving through your life operated by a false base assumption, you will never clearly see who you are and what you're worth. To some extent, in some way, this will affect every relationship you have, and limit what you feel worthy to receive. It may stall your creativity and confidence. It may strain your relationships as you demand the sort of love and approval that can only come from within. It may cause internal instability as the way you feel about yourself is swayed by what others think about you. It may cause you to suffer mightily under the tyranny of negative self concept.
And we are all worthy of so much more than that.
My breakthrough with this came when I realized that the people who love me aren't idiots. They are intelligent, insightful people whose opinions I value and trust. I'm not a magician who somehow tricked them into believing that I'm worthy of their love. This is classic impostor syndrome: the fear that I am, in fact, deeply inadequate but have somehow fooled everyone around me, and will be exposed any minute now. But the people who love me can't be fooled by my false base assumption. They love me because of, not inspite of, who I am. They see me clearly and their love is a reaction to what they see. They love me because I'm lovable. Full stop.
This is a total script flip. False base assumption dictates that I'm a weird, bad girl, and that everything is messed up because of who I am. Authentic identity asserts that I am happy, healthy and wholly good, and that the love I receive is a response to that. All I've ever had to do to be loved was be exactly who I am- a happy, healthy, wholly good girl.
False base assumptions about our identity keep us trapped in an illusion of inadequacy and unworthiness. They limit our life and cause suffering. But limited love, freedom, and calm feel normal. Suffering feels familiar. Ease and happiness are so foreign they feel frightening. Excavating our false base assumptions causes a total disruption of identity. Questions of fundamental identity are never not weighty. This is not easy work. This is not done overnight. It's not enough to have the revelation that you're actually quite good. You are carving a new neural pathway in your brain each time you respond to life from your authentic identity. First comes the revelation, then the radical restructuring of self concept from the brain on out. Woah, dude.
A caveat to all this: some people *are* fooled by your false base assumptions. Some people buy into the lies you tell about yourself. You act unworthy and they respond by treating you as such. Run from these people. Run far, far away. They will continue to help reinforce the lies. They see you as you secretly see yourself. This is regressive. It stalls evolution.
We need people around us who see our beauty and goodness. They hold this vision for us until we can see it and know it for ourselves. They are the keepers of our Truth. Begin to believe them. You've been starving for an embodied sense of acceptance and worthiness for your whole life. Don't try to take it all in at once. Be gentle with yourself as you integrate this awakening consciousness of your true identity. Watch your mind hawklike for thoughts that would keep you small and self loathing. Ask yourself, "Is this really true?" Listen to the beautiful poetry of David Whyte:
"You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you."
Wake up to who you really are today. It's time to come alive in the full awareness of your goodness.
I am happy, healthy and wholly good.
And so are you.