The True Worth in Feeling Worthless
I was talking to a friend who mentioned that she often felt worthless, a failure, a waste of space. I pointed her to a place where she could finally see that there was infinite worth in feeling worthless, that even worthlessness had a rightful place in her, that as a child of consciousness, as a wave in the ocean of life, it was worth something, and that she was vast enough to contain ALL waves – worthiness, worthlessness, and the rest.
Worthlessness was her Guru
Why should she limit herself to just feeling one thing all the time? Why should she be ‘the worthy one’ and nothing else? Was she really so contained, so small, so bounded, so limited? Was she not, in fact, the wide open space of consciousness itself, the no-thing that holds everything, making space for all of life? Worthlessness was her guru, waking her up from her trance of worth, shattering her limited, one-sided image of herself, enlightening her to the true indefinable vastness that she was.
Finding Intimacy in Unworthiness
The true worth she had always sought was actually hidden there at the very heart of her most intense feelings of worthlessness. They just needed to be faced, met, embraced, that’s all. They were simply lost children, looking for a home in her, having been denied entry time and time again up until now.
Standing in the midst of worthlessness, we discovered that we were truly worthy of it. Our feelings of unworthiness have so much worth, and there we truly meet, in intimacy. How ingenious that worth would hide inside worthlessness – the last place we’d ever think to look. This play of apparent opposites is stunning.
Loving the Unloveable
Love isn’t something that anyone can give you. It’s not something you have to beg for, earn, or deserve. You don’t have to be worthy. You only have to be alive, and you are worthy. Because you are inseparable from the stars, the mountains, the rustling trees in the meadow. And you follow the breath as it rises and falls. And you make room in yourself for long-neglected feelings of shame, fear, unworthiness, sorrow.
You learn to trust the body, its rhythms, the way it tries to protect itself, its unpredictability, its feelings of unsafety. You breathe into the sore places, make them safe. (Safe to even feel unsafe; that is freedom.) To love the parts that feel unlovable; that is the love you always dreamed about, the love you never have to deserve.
The Divine Mess of Your Life
That is, the story of your life is always going to be imperfect. That’s the nature of story – always incomplete, always searching for a conclusion, always bound to time and change. In the movie of your life, things won’t always go according to plan. People won’t always understand you. They will mishear, misquote, and misrepresent you.
They will form their own idea and opinion of you, no matter how clearly you try to represent yourself. Your success can turn to failure. Your wealth can turn to poverty. The ones you love can leave you. Problems that get fixed can lead to new problems. No matter how much you have, you can have more, or lose more. It’s never going to work out in the story of “my life”.
For in this moment, there is no goal, no image of perfection, no comparison, no ‘should’ or ‘should not’, and the thoughts, sensations, feelings, sounds and smells appearing right now are entirely appropriate, wonderfully fitting, beautifully timely, and totally welcome, for this moment in the movie. Without a script, how can this moment be wrong? Without a plan, how can life not go according to plan?
Gratitude for What is Given
Realising that your life is never going to work out, and that it cannot ever work out, and that it isn’t supposed to work out, is the greatest relief, and brings the greatest ease, drawing you deeply into the sacredness of things as they actually are. Your life may be an imperfect mess, but it is an imperfect mess that is perfectly divine – a work of sacred art, even if you forget that sometimes. Humiliation turns to humility in the space of just a heartbeat, and all that’s left is to fall on your knees with gratitude for what is given, and what has not yet been taken away.
A Prayer for the Living
Break in me whatever needs to be broken.
Fix my hope of ever being fixed.
Use me. Draw every ounce of creativity out of me. Help me live a radically unique life, forever forging a never-before-trodden path in the forest.
Show me how to love more deeply than I ever thought possible.
Whatever I am still turning away from, keep shoving in my face.
Whatever I am still at war with, help me soften towards, relax into, fully embrace.
Where my heart is still closed, show me a way to open it without violence.
Where I am still holding on, help me let go.
Give me challenges and struggles and seemingly insurmountable obstacles, if that will bring an even deeper humility and trust in the intelligence of life.
Break in me whatever needs to be broken.
Help me laugh at my own seriousness.
Allow me to find the humour in the dark places.
Show me a profound sense of rest in the midst of the storm.
Don’t spare me from the truth. Ever.
Let gratitude be my guide.
Let forgiveness be my mantra.
Let this moment be a constant companion.
Let me see your face in every face.
Let me feel your warm presence in my own presence.
Hold me when I stumble.
Breathe me when I cannot breathe.
Let me die living, not live dying.
Words by Jeff Foster: Article originally appeared on Uplift.
JEFF FOSTER | LIFE WITHOUT A CENTER
Jeff Foster studied Astrophysics at Cambridge University. In his mid-twenties, after a long period of depression and illness, he became addicted to the idea of ‘spiritual enlightenment’ and embarked on an intensive spiritual quest for the ultimate truth of existence.
The spiritual search came crashing down with the clear recognition of the non-dual nature of everything, and the discovery of the extraordinary in the ordinary. In the clarity of this seeing, life became what it always was: intimate, open, loving and spontaneous, and Jeff was left with a deep understanding of the root illusion behind all human suffering, and a love of the present moment.