The overwhelming sense of unworthiness that permeates someone’s mind when they begin their recovery can be astonishing. So often, we begin the path to recovery with this sense of not being worth anything: love, affection, respect, you name it. We show the world our feelings of unworthiness in our actions and our interactions. This is an interesting phenomenon to behold, and a challenging one to unwind and rewire. From the perspective of one who holds the position of sponsor or mentor, the way to help someone rewire often comes by way of being an example; planting seeds and watering them with knowledge, love, and support, and waiting for them to root. They eventually do, but not always in my time, or your time. They root during the natural progression of the person’s readiness to recover and do the necessary work.
Unworthiness is a state of mind, a feeling that tends to hover over those who are feeling down and out. It can be a temporary state or it can linger and lead to depression. It is not something to shrug off and ignore or to be held lightly.
In order to combat this, it’s vital we do the deep excavating work that’s required for the healing process of recovery to take effect. This work is not an opportunity to beat ourselves up but instead, a time to learn to take steps toward self-care and freedom. Unfortunately, the tendency toward self-deprecation is far too high and can often hinder one’s willingness to move forward.
How do we overcome this sense of being unworthy so we can develop feelings of being valuable or worthwhile?
1: Be of service: It can be as small as doing your dishes, or picking up the phone and calling someone to see how they are. Smiling at strangers is a nice way to bring some light to your day.
2: Ask for help. You can’t do this alone.
3: Start a gratitude practice: write down three things that you are grateful for every day and then share them with someone else.
4: Look in the mirror every morning and say, “You are magnificent.” Even if it feels weird, the positive reverberations are tangible.
Going through this process of recovery can be dark. We have to find ways in which to bring some light. Gratitude lists, being of service, and asking for help, developing a meditation practice, and practicing acts of kindness to others and ourselves: those are all flickers of light. We can and will recover, one step, one tear, and one laugh at a time. Those feelings of unworthiness will eventually fade and we will soon realize our feelings aren’t facts.