Are you building self-worth or your ego when you over give? #46
Dear Lovely You,
The essence of ‘not good enough’ sits in my body with all good intentions.
It wants to keep me safe.
It governs my actions and my thoughts.
It is convinced that its way is the only way and I believe it because it feels as true now as when it was formed in the early years of my life.
It doesn’t know that it’s out of date and that things need to change.
It doesn’t know that it is the very thing that is now damaging me.
It doesn’t know yet that we’re safe now and can relax.
If giving doesn't come from a place of authenticity, it is toxic to your system. If you're not giving freely from a place of abundance and love it wears you down over time.
How we get stuck in patterns of over giving
Unconsciously you repeat the same patterns over and over trying to feel better. Trying to feel ‘good enough.’
Eventually you find yourself inside a life where you don't feel you have a choice. You've made your bed and now you have to lie in it. You created this life and you don't feel you can change it or reach out for help and support. You’re too proud to admit you’re not happy or struggling. You feel like everyone expects something from you and you have to deliver because that’s what you’ve always done.
As a teenager I looked like I had it all together on the outside because I was calm, sensible and above all caring but I was constantly worrying about everyone else. There were signs that all was not right: feeling tired and going to bed very early in the evening; breaking down at school; dropping out of college because I didn't have the self-belief, energy or motivation to do the work.
I got a job as a live-in nanny because that's what I knew best. Caring. I worked eleven-hour days, looking after for two children, doing all the housework and cooking for a wealthy family who paid me a pittance.
The day my parents split up I had been called to their house by my mum. As my boyfriend drove us home and I talked about and cried about what had happened (my dad leaving) he stopped the car and screamed, "what about me! I'm fed up of hearing about your parents!"
Afraid of losing him I recoiled. I unconsciously switched my attention from my parent’s situation to looking after his emotional needs.
We had a child nine months after our wedding and I felt trapped. With no income of my own, living out in the sticks with no car during the day and too much pride to ask for help, what could I do? We were poor and I was desperate.
I was organised and could run a house standing on my head and I was bored! We started to foster teenagers. More people to think about and care for. We had another child, two dogs, two cats, a goldfish and a budgie.
Unaware that I was just repeating the same patterns over and over, life became a living hell of lurching from one crisis to another and taking on other people's dramas as well as our own gave me a sense of worth.
What was the driving force that made me take on more and more problems and responsibilities?
How I talked to myself then (Internal Dialogue)
In my mind my thoughts whirred. I'm not good enough. If I worked harder and did more then maybe people would be happy and I would feel better. Always striving for what I could do and how I could change myself and working harder and harder. I often felt like I just wanted to walk away from it all.
Your life is about you!
A client once said to me that she couldn’t make decisions that were going to affect others because it seemed selfish. My response was to ask her who her life was about if it wasn’t about her? This proved to be the turning point she needed to start taking care of herself.
What if living your most authentic life was the least selfish thing you could do? Doing things that energise you, lift you up and keep you healthy.
Trying to build some self-worth or just your ego?
The ego is not bad. We all have an ego otherwise we wouldn’t be able to function as humans. Linked to the third chakra (the doing centre) that sits in the solar plexus, it’s represented by the element of fire and is about energy, willpower, purpose, identity, self-esteem and healthy fight/flight responses.
But an ego stuck in unresolved trauma can be really destructive to the human system, body and mind.
My ego is still trying to be a somebody rather than a nobody. We’re making friends now but it has been a long road.
I am a carer to my core. I have a lot of insight.
I was a good listener and people talked to me and told me things they couldn't tell others. I intuitively knew what to say and what people needed to hear. I was the soother and the rescuer and this only served to boost my ego rather than my self-worth.
Because I was needed but not needy. I had a strong sense that I could not be a burden to people. I had to be useful in some way and this was my way.
But we all live interdependent lives and we all need support at times.
The feeling of I'm not good enough, was coming from a place of lack. It was coming from a place of desperation and fear and needing to be needed because if I were needed then they couldn’t get rid of me.
Insane and not at all logical looking back but also completely unconscious patterns at the time.
It doesn't make logical sense because if people really love you they're going to be supportive. They are going to try to help if they can. I now know, if I had admitted to myself that I had made a huge mistake and had the courage to ask my parents and stepparents for help, I would have got out of that situation sooner rather than waiting until things turned nasty.
Building Self-Worth as a Caretaker
In his book, The Myth of Normal, Dr Gabor Mate states that a child will always choose attachment over its own authenticity because it is dependent on its care givers. It will always hide its own needs from others and even itself to preserve the relationship.
No wonder we forget who we really are and what we really want. It’s painful and draining to deny our True authentic Selves and sustain this long term.
As adults we no longer have to look to our parents and caregivers for approval but it often still feels like we do.
When the ego knows it no longer needs that approval because it is in fact an actual miracle that we were even born, it can let go and relax and play. It doesn’t need the next crisis or drama to feed it because it already knows it is enough.
A healthy ego can take it or leave it and has no attachment to having to be the one to help, though it will help if appropriate and it has the internal resources to do so.
But it won’t push itself on people and give from an empty cup unless absolutely necessary.
A healthy ego knows, giving from a place of abundance feels satisfying to the receiver and also the giver. The giver can walk away feeling buoyed up rather than depleted by the giving.
It has a healthy sense of regard for itself, is compassionate to itself and others. It’s soft around the edges and doesn’t need to push through.
The healthy ego doesn’t need to be needed but if it is needed it’s happy to oblige.
Healthy self-worth is a feeling and an inner knowing
It’s felt in the marrow of your bones and the length of your spine. It builds strong muscles and a sense of direction and purpose.
Self-worth knows what’s important and what your priorities are.
It’s being comfortable in your own skin and able to make your own decisions and not bowing to pressure if something is not right for you.
Healthy self-worth listens to your body and acts in your best interests first.
Self-worth is assertive and confident but also compassionate because it knows that others struggle with this too.
Self-worth is awareness and trusting your gut feeling and intuition.
Healthy self-worth doesn’t deny your needs. It’s clear about what your needs are and honours them.
It’s strong and proud but not too proud to ask for help when needed.
When it does get knocked or falls into self-doubt it talks to a trusted person and works things through.
Are you making friends with your ego and building your sense of self-worth?
from my True Self to Yours