I am a walking dichotomy: I know that I am fabulous and I can enumerate my prolific list of accomplishments, strengths, talents, God-given gifts, blessings, and abilities...yet at the same time, I am not confident that I have worth--that if I could not do anything any longer, Heavenly Father (or anyone else) would want me.
How did this happen?
I'll save you the dramatic narrative and summarize it for you (you can read the full-length version when I publish my memoirs, haha). In essence, throughout my life I've confused self-esteem (confidence in oneself and one's abilities) with self-worth (overall feeling of inherent value, goodness, and deservedness)--i.e. I believed that I garnered worth by doing not by just being. Hence, I have become a human doing instead of a human being.
I did not fully realize that this was the heart of my problem until a well-meaning friend recently encouraged me to introspect and identify my strengths. When I read his request, my first thought was, "What the...? Does he not know me at all?! He's acting like I have low self-esteem and don't have confidence. I *know* I'm fabulous and can do [insert long list strengths]!"
However, after much prayer and pondering, I sadly discovered that his suggestion was completely warranted. (Guess I deserve an "F" instead of a "C" on that assignment after all, Matt.)
Correcting the issue, though, is another matter. In order to alter my personal paradigm, I need to gain a testimony of my inherent worth--to feel that I am loved, of value, and wanted. That task is in itself a Catch-22 (or a Catch-32, right Julie?). I am incapable of allowing myself to feel for very long because what I usually end up feeling is a Pandora's box of hurt, pain, disappointment, and fear--yet I must clear out these painful emotions in order to have room for feeling loved, valued, wanted, and deserving of joy...but in order to allow myself to feel these painful emotions, I need to feel that there is hope for feeling loved, valued, wanted, and deserving of joy.
Dizzying, I know.
What prevents me from allowing myself to feel? Feeling hurts. Feeling is something that I am not good at (I would definitely not list it on my lengthy "Reasons I am awesome" list--not even close!). Feeling is "unsafe" because I cannot control it; often I cannot even understand *what* I'm feeling or what to do about the feelings. Feelings are not always reliable either; they can change with circumstances or events--the way someone feels about me can change or the way I feel about an event could change. Because feeling is one of my weaknesses, when I *do* allow myself to feel, I become vulnerable and defensive and expect myself to "fail" at feeling and ruin things (e.g. relationships) by acknowledging how I feel. To me, feelings are volatile and condemning.
Logic...now there's something I'm a master at. Logic is "safe." With logic, I do not have to feel; I can reason myself into and out of any situation and control (to some degree) the outcome. Logic is constant: A+B=C. The variables of what A, B, and C symbolize may change, but the formula is reliable. I feel confident in my ability to analyze and reason, and when I utilize these skills, my confidence is renewed.
Notwithstanding logic's obvious appeal, I know that somehow I need to embrace feeling and find a balance between reason and feeling. I don't know how to do that, though. Whenever I attempt to feel, something horrific occurs, reaffirming my fear that feeling is my Achilles' heel and that I should avoid doing it. I'm not brave enough to continue trying and failing, ruining things and hurting people in the process.
As Sophie Schultz would say, "ravernah no." Wise words from a four-year-old who often likes to pretend she's a baby hummingbird.