Self-doubt and its Antidotes
Q: I have a deep, pervasive feeling and belief of my underlying unworthiness. My ego’s main job is to hide the real self that it believes is unworthy and ugly. But there is something behind the ego that believes it too, for I can observe the ego’s survival techniques, but even that place of observation seems also to be of the belief that the deepest self is unworthy. How can I begin to approach this issue?
SALLY: The feeling that there is something behind the ego is actually another manifestation of the ego, which is clever, powerful, and extremely tricky! One crucial step in curing this inherent feeling of unworthiness is to begin to identify the part of yourself that is not affected by your feeling of being unworthy. Whether you call it the witness or the Self, it is the place you access in meditation, and even though at first you may only touch it for a moment, you can start to linger there, and remind yourself that THIS state is the reality, not your feelings of unworthiness.
Talk Back to the Ego
The next step is to begin to identify the “voices” that tell you that you are unworthy, and talk back to them. Listen to what they say, and then find a statement that contradicts them. In other words, create a positive ego to counteract the negative ego! What you are doing is creating a new mental habit—a habit of seeing yourself positively. You may not “believe” it at first, but in a relatively short time, you’ll notice that there’s a voice inside you that can give you spontaneous positive feedback.
Go into the Heart
Another practice for curing unworthiness is to focus in “the heart.” First, go into the heart. If you have my CD, you can use the Heart meditation to do this. Explore the energy of the heart, and keep going “deeper” into it by creating openings in the back of the heart center and going through them. Do this until you feel a connection to your own peace. This is the space of grace. Now, get in touch with the feeling of unworthiness. Feel how it feels, and where you feel it in your body. Let yourself hear the words around it. Then, bring all these into your heart, as if you were dragging and dropping the thoughts and feelings into the heart space. Have the feeling that you are surrounded by a wide bubble or space of energy that moves out from the heart and surrounds you. Hold the sense of the heart space, the sense of the wider space, AND the feeling that goes with “unworthiness” together. Offer the feeling to grace, and ask that it be healed. Do this once every few days, or make it part of your daily practice. Little by little, you should begin to notice a change.
Inner Child Work
It might also be helpful to do some inner child work with the feeling. This is best done with another person. Basically, it’s a practice of anchoring yourself in the heart, then asking the question: “What age was I when I first had this feeling? You’ll get a sense of this, intuitively. Then imagine yourself at that age, and bring the child you into your heart space. Cradle the child. Speak to the child–tell the child, “You are divine, you are worthy,” or whatever occurs to you to help comfort the child. Tell the child that you will be there for him, that you won’t abandon him and you won’t let him feel unworthy. Again, this is a process that you must do again and again, but it is a very powerful way to begin healing the deep-seated feelings. You may find that tears or other deep feelings come up as you do it. For this reason, it’s very important that you ANCHOR YOURSELF IN THE HEART SPACE and identify yourself NOT as the child, but as the adult who is holding the heart-space. So you, as the spiritually wise adult, are helping to heal this left-behind child part of you.