The Most Important Belief
The Coaching Connector’s tagline “Guiding You Through the Maze” reflects our goal of helping you navigate your way through any dysfunctional programming you may have inherited from growing up and leading you to your ideal life. Imagine you are in a maze at the end of which is your ideal life. There are unfortunately many dead ends in this maze in which people get trapped. One of the biggest dead ends has to do with how people resolve their core beliefs regarding the most fundamental issue of self-worth.
Picture coming up to a wall in the maze with a sign on it that reads, “Self-Worth.” To the left there is a corridor with an arrow that reads, “Unconditional.” The arrow to the right corridor says, “Conditional.” You notice that the path to the right seems much more worn while the one to the left shows little to no signs of being chosen.
It would be at that moment that my wish for you would be to have the words of Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken, which I happen to have hanging in my office, echo through your head. The last stanza of Frost’s poem reads:
I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Before you make your decision, let me tell you a little bit more about where these corridors lead and the different ramifications taking each would likely have on your life.
Because it’s the one most people take, let’s begin with the corridor to the right that is labeled Conditional. One of the trickiest things about this corridor is that it has many twists and turns and you can travel for a very long time, sadly often a lifetime, before you ever come to the dead end. But at the end of this very long corridor you would indeed find a dead end but you would also certainly not be alone. You would see a great many people caught in this dead end along with you trying desperately to find a why passed the walls surrounding them. Because of how far they’ve traveled in this corridor and all the company they’ve had along the way, many people find themselves racking their heads trying to figure out how this could only be a way to nowhere.
The reason the Conditional corridor results in a dead end is because it leads you to define yourself by way of your mind’s database. Our mind’s database is the collection of our thoughts, beliefs, habits and associations that we’ve formed from all our interactions with our social and physical environments beginning from our earliest days.
The problem is that the majority of people in many societies do buy into the belief that our self-worth is conditional. Therefore, as we grow and interact with our surroundings, we accumulate information suggesting that our self-worth is indeed conditional – either upon something external to ourselves (like physical appearance, the amount of money or prestige we have etc.) or how we compare to other people (are we smarter, more talented, more “successful” etc.). Ironically, we are often led down the Conditional corridor of the maze by even well intentioned attentive parents and teachers.
Unfortunately for the majority of those in society, following the path of Conditional self-worth is one that not only hinders you significantly from living life in the way you were truly meant to live but one that almost inevitably guarantees that you will experience at least some level of anxiety or depression throughout your life. The reason for such distress has to do with how important our self-worth is to us. As human beings, we seem to have a primitive understanding of how dependent we are when we are infants. When we are born, if we don’t have at least one caretaker who thinks we are at least worthwhile enough to care for our basic needs, we don’t have a remote chance at surviving.
Our need for self-worth is such a fundamental psychological need that when we feel it may be threatened, in some way shape or form, we will often go to great lengths to try to obtain and maintain it. I have seen many adults who may be well in their 60’s still trying to chase their parent’s approval if their mind’s database believes their self-worth to be conditional upon whether or not their parent is happy with them.
Your database may deem that your self worth is dependent upon a variety of things such as your parent’s approval or society markers of “success” related to appearance, career, status etc. But whatever it determines your self worth is conditional upon, you will likely find yourself perpetually caught in the trap of spending your life trying to obtain and maintain these markers in order to boost your self worth only to find that an enduring sense of self worth eludes you. As long as you buy into the belief that your self worth is conditional, you may experience fleeting moments of happiness but you won’t find true enduring contentment. Unfortunately a database that has been programmed with a conditional sense of self worth works on the, “What have you done for me lately?” pattern. If you reach a marker of “success” such as getting into a top college, the database may allow you to give yourself a momentary pat on the back but soon it will be demanding that you get a stellar GPA in order to maintain your self worth and so on.
When you believe your self worth is conditional, it can feel as fragile as a house of cards. You naturally become preoccupied with making sure all the cards are just right for fear of the whole thing coming down. Unfortunately, as long as you buy into a conditional sense of self worth, your “life’s work” becomes trying to chase whatever the next factor your mind’s database deems is necessary to make you feel worthwhile – only to have that sense of self worth eventually slip through your hands prompting you to chase yet another carrot. Sadly, there is no magic carrot, no matter how convincing your mind’s database may be that the next carrot is “the one” that leads to an enduring sense of self worth and contentment.
The Road Not Taken
Now that you have hopefully gotten a better understanding of where the Conditional corridor leads, let me describe where having the courage to go against the masses, to take the road not taken leads you. If you were to take the corridor to the left, the one that reads Unconditional, it would take you down the path of defining your self worth by way of your unique consciousness (rather then the database of your mind).
Your unique consciousness is the true essence of who you are. It is the unique awareness that was there the day you were born as you began interacting with the world. The metaphor I use to refer to the unique consciousness is that of an acorn. Just as an acorn contains the full potential of an oak tree (it’s never going to be a maple or a pine no matter what), the day you were born you came into this world with a unique set of potentials that only you can bring.
When you adopt the belief that your self worth is Unconditional, you realize that it is inherent based solely on the fact that you are a unique human being. There are billions of people in this world but there is only one You. No one else can fulfill the part you were meant to play in this world better than you. As a unique human being, you have already done everything you need to do to “earn” your self worth – you came into this world.
Now, according to this path, when we say your self worth is Unconditional, we really mean Unconditional, therefore it never goes up and it never goes down no matter what. I like to think about your self worth as being in a vault – it is truly untouchable. You don’t ever have to worry about it going down and there’s no need to waste any of your time trying to “increase” it – it’s already fully present.
When you fully start believing that your self worth is Unconditional, you experience of sense of freedom that can never really be felt by those caught in the Conditional corridor of the maze. Instead of having to spend so much of your life trying to obtain and maintain an elusive false sense of self-worth, you get to spend your life discovering what’s in your acorn and learning to develop your gifts and talents and share them with the world.
Often times when I present the concept of Unconditional self worth, many comment on how differently people are treated and valued in society. It’s important to understand that believing that every human being has inherent worth doesn’t prohibit you from acknowledging that society often values people’s contributions and talents differently and that sadly many human beings are treated in ways that don’t remotely recognize their inherent worth. A human being’s inherent self worth is an entirely separate concept from how they may be valued and treated by society.
Believing that you have Unconditional self worth is a prerequisite for finding enduring contentment and living the life you were truly meant to live. If you sense that you have fallen into the trap that so many do of taking the Conditional corridor, fear not, finding your way back to your true self, developing an unconditional sense of self worth and getting you back on the path of developing your full potential (growing your acorn) is something that the right coach can absolutely help you do.
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