The separation of our essence
We are all born with the awareness of Oneness and unconditional love that we experienced in our mother's womb. When we get disconnected from this love that we need to survive and thrive, we will try everything that lies within our power as little human beings to get it back. And if we fail, we take it personal and blame it on ourselves. When our mothers cry, when somebody yells at us, when we can't have what we want, when our parents quarrel, when someone molests us, it is understood as if we aren't worthy of the love we need and long for. For most people that is the original wound; the separation of our essence, the unconditional love that we were born with. Lack of self-worth is one of its major symptoms.
The human condition
Knowing this, we can see that it is almost inevitable not to get traumatized as a child. Most of us haven't always got what we wanted or needed most, as a result of which we got separated from our essence. I think we can say that this is part of the human condition. The longing for reconnection with our essence is therefor one of the main drives behind man's search for acknowledgement, approval and love. Still, many of us are unaware of this original wound and its symptoms. Often it is just the tip of the iceberg that we can see; the contra-productive ways in which we act to ease our pain.
Unfortunately, many of us have been hurt so severely in childhood that we not only lack self-worth but lack faith in humanity as well. The deep suffering caused by isolation and feelings of worthlessness creates so much havoc that we need immediate relief. Only too often we find this immediate, short term relief in substances that we get addicted to or in behavior that doesn't serve our longing for connection at all.
But even when we have grown up in a rather 'normal' functioning family, we all have scratches and bruises etched in our subconscious. Whether we are aware or unaware of these scars, when something triggers our old pain, it still aches and causes a reaction in us that we often describe as a 'bad habit', but would fit more with the title of 'self-sabotage'.
Because with these 'habits' we ultimately harm ourselves and in doing so we confirm over and over again the painful belief we hold true for ourselves, the belief that we are not worthy. Although we might ease our pain for the moment, in the long run we are fueling it.
The many faces of self-sabotage
Self-sabotage can manifest in many different ways, some of them obviously harmful, some very subtle. A few of them are:
Can you tick a few boxes of this list? I still can. Often we have developed perfect excuses to justify why we do what we do, 'having had a bad day' or 'cannot be bothered with it anymore', without seeing an underlying pattern. Without reading the messages of unworthiness or loneliness.
I don't have a quick fix to stop self-sabotage, as it is a way of coping with a symptom of a hidden wound. To treat the coping strategy solely will not do the job, if that is what you are after. When deep inside the notion of unworthiness stays alive, however hard you try to 'think positive', this will keep dragging you down. Your deepfelt beliefs need to equal your thoughts.
What I know from my own experiences, from my teachers and hearing personal stories on the subject, is that when I properly started to care for myself on a daily basis, that means opening up to my inner life (journalling, self-inquiry, meditation) and becoming aware of the underlying, original wound and its symptoms, things began to change. Also, the realization that I am ultimately and fully responsible for my own life and actions helped me to wake up. No one owes me something. And I don't like to be told by anyone. So, I have to show up for myself and steer myself in the direction that I perceive as my soul's journey.
As a result of an ever deepening process of reconnecting with myself, I started to feel more authentic and grounded. A new appreciation for the person I am cautiously peeped its head up and I began to adopt a different, healthier lifestyle and connect with a different, kinder kind of people. Eventually, I found the place where unconditional love resided, in my own heart, hidden under my conditioning and prejudices.
Where love is, is also compassion and understanding. When the pain, that isolated part of us in distress and confusion, can be openly met with compassion, the resistance against it gives way to radical acceptance of who we are and it will stop playing out in its habitual, harmful ways. That is all it ever needed. That has been its only purpose.
The one and only You
May we wake up to the reality of who we really are and feel love and compassion instead of guilt or shame for the person we have become.
May we stop comparing ourselves with other people, which isn't very valuable to begin with and it keeps us focused outwards.
And, in our search for reconnection with our essence, may we be kind and patient when we turn inward and slowly learn to understand what we need to heal and thrive and what truly makes us come alive.
We are good enough. We are worthy. In all our human beingness of messing things up and making amends, trying to find out how to make the best of the life that we are. Don't forget, our worthiness is not in our doing, but in our being. We all share the same essence, an infinite ocean of unconditional love.