You Were Always Pretty Great cover image

You Were Always Pretty Great

This morning I read a friend’s social media post declaring that she is working tirelessly to become somebody she’s proud to be. It’s a familiar tale. Too many of us believe that we are not, at this moment, enough. We are not smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough, or are generally lacking the control of our emotions needed to be acceptable to others.

For every person convinced of their inherent deficiency, there are dozens of books, articles, or blog posts telling them why they’re wrong. And despite our best attempts as practitioners of healing to persuade, we cannot make you recognize your divine nature and infinite worth.

As researchers, authors, psychologists, therapists, and clergy, we often forget that facts and figures are meaningless to those in the depths of despair. And while our insights and abilities might help alleviate the load, it’s only a reprieve of anguish. External influences are limited to reinforcing what we already think, know, and wonder about ourselves. They disappear almost as quickly as they arrive and fail to shift the simple fact that only you can negate the truths you’ve internalized.

Logical responses flooded my mind as I dwelled on the words of my friend: You have a great job. You have a great family. You are always there when I need you. You are an example to hundreds of people. Your kindness is unparalleled. Dozens of people value you. There are people you don’t know who treasure you. She had heard these things before, many times, but never adopted them into her reality.

Then came my vulnerable reactions: I wish I had the energy to work tirelessly like you. I wish I had the confidence to tell the world I’m not ok like you. I wish I knew what the version of me I’d be proud of looked like. I wish I had goals like you. My friend had heard these things before as well, many times, but never adopted them into her reality.

Eventually, My Heart Reached Anger

I tend to do my best work when I’m angry. For somebody with pretty severe ADHD, I need a solid motivator to accomplish anything lasting more than a few minutes. Anger became my motivator, and today my anger found focus.

I’m angry that any human feels inferior. I’m pissed at all those people who spew bullshit filtered images of their perfect lives. I’m furious at the institutions that brainwash us into believing we must earn recognition. Most of all, I’m livid at every person over the years that attempted to teach my friend that she isn’t inherently awesome.

We come into this world knowing we are worth other people serving us. We obtained food, cleaning, love, and touch simply by asking for it with our cries. For most of us, these cries initiated earnest attempts to satiate our needs. For others, the lessons of diminished worth began. As children, we were affirmed as valuable individuals, shown our perceived worthlessness or some combination of the two.

The Horrible Lessons of Self Worth

Where did you learn that you aren’t enough? How long have you known this? Who taught you this lesson? For many of us who question our value, myself included, we generally fixate upon our status of worthlessness and believe that those who tell us we’re not enough were and continue to be correct. Our inadequacy has cost us the right to question those that reinforce our insignificance. Questioning is where healing starts.

Think about the kind of people that need others they come in contact with to be smaller, weaker, or generally less-than. Does that sound like a well-adjusted person? Does it sound like somebody that should have the ability or authority to tell you who you are?

Many of us who experience feelings of ineptitude still give such people power because they appear to have more significant social status or externally visible success. Despite the emotional flaws or harmful actions of such people, we accept their words and actions against us as a manifestation of what we deserve.

Is it improved social status or externally visible success we want? Not really. Yet we’ve given value to external recognitions as indicators of our worthiness because we’ve adopted the reality of those so empty that they worship at the altar of public opinion. The whole individual doesn’t need social status or externally visible success to feel adequate amongst others.

How do you come to know you’re already pretty great? Remember that you always were. I can tell you that you’re fantastic. I can tell you that you’re beautiful, kind, wise, and just an overall impressive human being. I’ve never even met you, and I know those things are true.

You’ll doubt these words. Corinne doesn’t know me. She doesn’t know about this thing I did years ago. She doesn’t know how _____________ I am. I bet you filled in that line with some lie others have told you.

I don’t have the power to convince you that you’re great. You do! You already knew you were great at one point in time in your life, even if you don’t remember it. You knew that you were worth other people bending over backward to serve you, not because of something you have or earned, but because of who you are. You’ve never lost that. Focus on when you learned that you were anything less than a human: inherently worthy and priceless. Start to question all those lessons that have taught you that you are anything less than perfect.

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