Visualization and Imagery

Back in football season, I saw a playoff game where a field goal would have won the game for that team.  An ordinary field goal that the kicker had made many times.  It wasn’t like it was longer than what he was used to or had never done before.  Basically it was a run of the mill play for him.  However, he did not make it this time.  And it wasn’t because of a block from another player.  In other words, it was not missed due to any physical reason.  It was only missed because of his own thoughts.  Our thoughts can help us or hurt us.  It’s our choice.

One way we can utilize our thoughts to our benefit is through visualization.  This is the technique where we mentally visualize something that we want.  To continue with the sports theme, athletes have been using visualization for years.  In the 1980s, Russians studied Olympic athletes who mentally rehearsed (aka, visualized) their sport.  They found that the performance of those that included visualization exceeded those that did not include visualization as part of their practice.

Various other studies have compared three groups of people: those that lift weights, those that visualize lifting weights and those that do neither.  Of course, the weight lifters increased strength and the couch potatoes didn’t.  But the astonishing finding is that the visualizers also increased their muscle strength.  Actual muscle strength can be increased by only visualizing lifting weights.  By only visualizing it!

Further studies have shown that the autonomic nervous system is triggered by mental visualizations of the athletes’ sporting activities which then led to increased physical performance.  In other words, to the body, it doesn’t matter if it is real or imagined.  You’ve probably experienced this yourself:  Ever wake up from a nightmare with an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, or sweating?  It certainly wasn’t from your body physically moving.  It was only from your mind!

Professional athletes today are using imagery as opposed to visualization because it also has been found that using all the senses – not just visual – boost performance.  They say the more they can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell the event, the more it improves their performance.  And the research shows that it only takes a few minutes a day to have an effect.

You are probably saying at this point, ‘Fascinating, but I’m not an athlete so what’s this got to do with me?’  The point is that this research with athletes has proven the power of visualization and imagery to help us achieve things in the physical.  This is incredibly amazing and powerful data that can be extended from physical conditioning of our bodies to any physical object, event, or circumstance that we want.

How to Visualize

First of all, visualizing is not difficult.  Egos usually tell us, we aren’t able to do it.  But, it’s just not practiced.  It’s not something most of us do regularly so we think it is a tough task.  The more we practice it though, the easier – and more fun! – it becomes.

Imagine something, anything you can dream up.  Not as you think it should be or as others would want it to be. (Nobody will judge you because this is all you.  You don’t have to tell a soul what you are imagining.)  It can be what you believe is a far-fetched dream or something more plausible to you.  The subject could be anything from physical conditioning, health, relationship, a material object, feeling more meaning and purpose, to helping others.  When your ego comes in and offers negativity (‘that could never happen’ or ’that’s dumb’, etc.), gently dismiss it.  If it persists, then you know it is time to end the session.

For only 5-10 minutes every day or so, see, feel, taste, smell, and hear the details of your dream.  Be in it, rather than watching it like a movie.  Here’s some random examples:

A new car:  See the car.  See the color of it inside and out.  Smell that new car smell.  Hear the sound of the engine.  The feel of the seat as you sit down.  Hear the friend talking to you who is in the car with you, etc.

Running a mile or 10 miles or a marathon: See yourself in your workout clothes.  Imagine your route and every detail you know about it.  See where you cross a street, pass a particular building.  Feel your breathing becoming more labored and imagine taking a deep, helpful breath.  Smell your sweat (ha!).  See yourself finishing the route and feel the feeling of being so proud of yourself.

Getting the idea of this?  Note that we’re not trying to fix something in our visualizations.  For example, we’re not taking a relationship with problems and working to find solutions.  We’re not trying to solve a problem of the world.  Visualization time should be pure enjoyment and fun!

We also visualize what we want so that these things do not feel so foreign or unlikely.  It helps us get used to the idea of them.  The more we visualize and feel them in our minds, the more they will seem likely to us to happen in physical reality.  Remember, our minds do not know if we are just imagining something or doing it in the physical.  So the more we imagine something, the more it will seem like the next logical step in “real” life.  It will not be an out-of-the-blue, crazy idea, because you have been feeling like you were already doing it.

Be careful not to then feel bad in your “real” life when you look at what is or isn’t, compared to what you visualized.  Be patient with the manifestation of your desires; all in divine time.  Turning your focus to appreciation of the things you currently do have in your life is an excellent way to stop the frustration of seeing what is lacking. When you do start to see the desires manifesting, then acknowledge and be appreciative of them, as well.

Try it out and see what manifests for you!

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Manifest Our Desires (aka, Get Things We Want)

Of course we can be joyful without any material object or relationship.  The ultimate goal is to be happy regardless of any external thing.  But…we want things!  And that is perfectly normal and natural.  We are in this world of physicality.  Let’s embrace and enjoy material things, always mindful that we don’t need them to be happy.  But that it is more than okay to have fun with and enjoy things.

So how do we get things we want?  A lot of hard work and physical effort?  Wrong!  But it seems that is what most people believe.  From the Puritan Work Ethic, conservative religion, governments, etc. trying to control the masses, whatever the origin, this is what has been ingrained in most people’s minds in our society.  But it simply is not true.

The work hard motto has definitely been ingrained in my mind.  But by playing around with, testing out and doing some experiments for fun, I’ve seen, first-hand, what can be manifested by not putting in that 110% physical effort.  At least not in the typical way.  It all has to do with focusing our thoughts.  Manifesting physical things all begins with what we think and how we feel emotionally.

The way we feel is the indicator of what we are thinking and what vibration we are.  Feeling good means we are thinking good thoughts (joy, happiness, appreciation, fun, enthusiasm, love) and indicates we are at a high vibration.  Feeling bad means we’ve mostly had negative thoughts going on (worry, sad, angry, jealous, bored, guilt, confused, fear) and means we are at a low vibration.

Whoa.  What the heck is vibration?  This is where the science comes in.  Yep, that’s right…science.

I’m definitely not a scientist nor completely understand science.  (And please pardon me if I have some slight errors in explaining the science.)  But I think it is worth it to take some time to ponder the quantum world.  Not just for the sake of expanding our minds, but to fully realize that we shape our reality whether we are aware of it or not.

Science proves the existence of vibration.  Quantum physics has shown that everything is made up of energy.  And all energy is moving, or, in other words, vibrating.  Everything is made up of millions of subatomic particles that are vibrating.  Everything vibrates at different rates or frequencies.  Including us.  (Also including our thoughts. But, we’ll get to that in a minute.) Envision everything as masses of vibrating energy, rather than as what we can see and touch.  This is not just theory but proven scientific discoveries by esteemed scientists like, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Max Planck (names to google, if you desire).

Einstein’s famous equation, which most of us have at least heard of, from the 1920s, E=MC2, states that matter (physical objects) and energy can be converted into each other and thus are essentially the same!  Energy – something we cannot see – and matter – that which we can see – are the same things in different forms.  He theorized, through mathematical equations, that everything is made of atoms and that all atoms consist of sub-atomic particles which consist of pure energy at their most basic level.  Even things that appear to be very different.  At their basic level, everything is made up of this same energy.

It was just Einstein’s theory; for there was no way to prove it at the time.  But it has now been proven over and over again by highly regarded scientists.  In other words, it is not just some out of the blue, airy-fairy idea.  (Although this is where I do not fully understand the science behind it and cannot seem to wrap my head around these experiments!  This is where I trust the scientists and move beyond to where this fact can actually benefit my life.)

Then came the Copenhagen Interpretation by Niels Bohr, also from the 1920s.  This says that a particle doesn’t exist in one state or another (energy or physical) but in all possible states simultaneously.  It’s not until we observe it that it chooses its state.  Quantum physics has proven that the same atom can be a solid physical particle or a non-physical wave of energy depending on what the observer is expecting.

So what this means in practical terms is that our thoughts create physical things!  Everything that was created was a thought first.  Again, this is not a self-help or new age-y idea.  This is scientifically proven and accepted as fact in the professional scientific community for almost one hundred years.

The idea of Quantum Entanglement began in the 1930s in a paper by scientists Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, which was later proven in multiple experiments.  In these experiments (which continue through the modern day), subatomic particles of energy were split in half.  It was found that each half affected the other half regardless of how physically far apart they were and the effect was received instantly.  It did not matter if the halves were close to each other or across the globe.  Regardless of physical distance, interacting with one half always had a simultaneous effect on the other half.  Because the effect was instantaneous – did not take time to travel through space – this means each half is still connected with the other.  If the Big Bang theory is correct (note that Einstein’s theories, and many other esteemed scientists of the time, could not be proven at the time until technology advanced to provide ways to test the theories), then everything in the world was “entangled” at the start, so that means everything has an effect on everything else.

Our Thoughts are Energy

How do we know our thoughts are made of this same energy?  It seems like thoughts could be an exception (says the ego).  But consider this: Our brains generate an electrical field which these days can be measured by ordinary medical equipment, such as, electroencephalogram (EEG).  An EEG works by measuring the fluctuations in voltage within the brain.  Voltage is defined on dictionary.com as electromotive force.  In other words, energy!  So that is confirmed – our thoughts are energy.  The same energy that Einstein stated made up everything.

So that then means the same principles that are proven for quantum physics (above) also apply to our thoughts:  Matter and energy can be converted into each other; All possibilities exist simultaneously and our observation or expectation determines state; Everything has an effect on everything else regardless of distance.

These “strange” phenomena happen not only in lab experiments with particles, but in our everyday lives!

The difference between our thoughts and particles is that we have free will over our thoughts.  We can think whatever we choose.  (See previous post.) We can direct and focus our thoughts and thus affect our environment and everything in it.  In other words, we can get things we want by thinking about them.

If the case is still not made that our thoughts create reality (my ego is very stubborn!), perhaps some more science will settle it.  Experiments starting in the 1970s at Princeton University showed that thoughts affected a random event generator (REG).  A random event generator is a device that produces completely random and unpredictable series of numbers.  When a person intentionally tried to direct the numbers, the sequences shifted and were significantly proven to not be by chance.  They also did experiments in various field settings (outside the lab) with activities comprised of large groups of people.  They found that the output generated by the REGs shifted based on events such as touchdowns in football games and peak moments in performances.  Thus, unintentional, as well as intentional, thoughts both affected the REGs.  This is a really neat experiment that shows the effect of our thoughts.

In Hidden Messages in Water, scientist Masaru Emoto wrote about the effects of words and thoughts on water.  When water is frozen, crystals form.  He found again and again that positive thoughts and words made the ice form beautiful crystals; negative ones made deformed crystals or no crystals at all.  (Check out the Water Crystal Photo Gallery for some fascinating pictures: masaru-emoto.net/english/water-crystal.html).  Not only does this support our case about our thoughts affecting our reality, but it also shows that thoughts affect our bodies because our bodies are 70% water!

Try some experiments for yourself to really seal the deal to your doubting ego.  I love the book, E-squared, by Pam Grout.  She’s got nine DIY energy/thought experiments that are not only convincing but fun!

How fascinating are quantum physics and these experiments!  In a nutshell, science says that our thoughts create material things and everything is possible.  The quantum physicist Niels Bohr said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”  Even the genius Einstein deemed quantum entanglement theory as “spooky”.

Please share your ideas and comments about quantum science and creating your reality.  Or even better, examples of what you intentionally created with your thoughts!  Next post, we’ll talk specifically about our thoughts in terms of visualization and imagery.

Law of Attraction and Joy

I haven’t written much in the Keys to Joy blog about the Law of Attraction.  Possibly because it may rub some people the wrong way.  But I’m okay with that now; to each their own.  Also, because it was quite pervasive for awhile.  It seemed like everywhere you turned, the buzz phrase, “Law of Attraction”, was written or said.  I think it got “old” fast and not fully understood.  Regardless, Law of Attraction is a very important part of my life and belief system.  Although it is only recently that I fully realized the high level of its importance.

Firstly, the definition of Law of Attraction is “like attracts like”.  We attract things into our lives with our thoughts and feelings, whatever is a match comes to us.  This is an oversimplified definition as there are many factors to consider such as, ego (limited perspective), intentions, past lives, everything is energy, the overall (rather than specific) vibration (energy) of things, etc.  Please read anything by Esther and Jerry Hicks (Abraham) for very in-depth information.  But this definition will suffice for what I’d like to get across in this post.

I was in a slump.  Thing after thing was bad and getting worse.  It started with being slightly annoyed with someone.  Rather than work through this by figuring out what it was reflecting in myself or focusing on something else, I let it bring me down emotionally.  My annoyance turned to anger.  From there, I fumed and fumed.  Thoughts about all things I didn’t like in my life seemed to percolate in my mind. Then I felt hopeless and full of despair.  Then the “real” evidence began to appear.  I got swamped with work I did not like, co-workers were not respecting me, my body had new aches and pains.  Fortunately, I had been doing inner work long enough to stop and ask what was going on with me, rather than simply blaming others and circumstances.  I used the affirmation – Only good will come from this.  And then asked, what was the good?

That’s when I realized the good was seeing how the Law of Attraction works in a real life example.  It also helped me to fully understand that the crap I was experiencing wasn’t because I was bad or unworthy of good.  It’s simply the Law of Attraction.  Abraham (Esther Hicks) says Law of Attraction is a very fair friend.  It always gives you exactly what you are a vibrational match to.  This can be a harsh point to face when our lives aren’t as we want them to be. But, Law of Attraction is responding to our feelings and energy, not what we say we want.

If we say we want a million dollars but most of the time we complain about not having enough money or wonder how we are going to pay a bill or be bitter or jealous towards those with a lot of money, the Law of Attraction is “hearing” our overall feeling of complaining, jealousy and distrust.  Those feelings are not a match to abundance.  We may be saying or even thinking we want a million dollars but then we feel otherwise.  And those feelings are much stronger than our words.  Consider this, we may be saying one thing, but deep down we are actually feeling the opposite.  And remember Law of Attraction is responding to what underlies our words, not the words themselves.

Fortunately, we have the ability to focus our attention.  It is absolutely, 100% our decision what we focus our thoughts on (it may seem difficult, especially in certain situations, but it is just one of those things where practice is key).  The Universe “hears” whatever we are focused on.  Even if we say we do not want something.  In our negation, we are focused on it and so it comes to us.  Just like an internet search – suppose you type in, “not polar bears”.  What that search will yield is tons of information about polar bears.  It’s not going to bring up everything not about polar bears.  And so it is with your thoughts and the universe. If you’re saying not polar bears, you actually are thinking about polar bears even though you don’t want them in your life, and polar bears is what you will get.

But how do we not think about what we don’t want?  It is very difficult, if not impossible, to make ourselves full-on stop thinking about something we are already thinking.  But by giving more attention to what we do want, we naturally flood out those unwanted thoughts.

We can also commit to paying more attention to what we are thinking. When we become more aware of our thoughts rather than just letting them fly haphazardly, we have the control to divert their direction.  To get started, put a reminder note – What am I thinking? – somewhere that you see often, or ask a friend to remind you every day, or ask the question during a routine activity so you link it to that daily activity, like showering, brushing your teeth, or eating dinner.

We can designate a specific time of day or activity where we focus on something specific we want.  First thing when we open our eyes, at noon, driving to work, waiting in line, during (muted) tv commercials are all opportunistic times to deliberately focus our minds on what we desire.

It has also been shown that those who practice meditation have an easier time focusing their thoughts.  Research has shown that the more we practice thinking a certain way, our neural pathways actually change.  So meditating will actually help us later to focus on what we want.  A couple of deep breaths with our attention on the breath is a type of meditation.  So no ego-excuses about not being able nor having time to meditate!

Remember to keep it fun! Or at least not a chore.  If focusing on what we want becomes chore-like, then our root feeling is negative which then cancels the entire focused thought process.

What fun, creative ways have you discovered that help you to keep focused on what you want?

Next post we’ll talk more about manifesting specific desires and the science behind it!

Psychology of Joy

I recently stumbled across some psychology terms that made a lot of sense for Keys to Joy.   These are concepts that I have learned through my own trial, error and personal experimentation. I love that the realizations that I pieced together on my own, from my own life, have been scientifically studied and “proven”.  It is nice to have that objective confirmation.  It also motivates me to keep on chugging!

These concepts are in relation to a field of psychology called positive psychology in which Dr. Martin Seligman is a pioneer.  He studied the concepts of Permanence, Pervasiveness, and Personalization in terms of Learned Optimism (which is also the title of his book).  Pessimists and optimists differ in the way they handle these 3 P’s.

If you are interested, check out his work in depth.  But in a nutshell and in my words, I’ve summarized the 3 P’s as such.  When faced with a challenge or unwanted circumstance, to be optimistic -or joyful- we must tell ourselves the following:

Permanence:  This is not permanent.  In other words, this too shall pass.

Pervasiveness:  This need not affect all areas of our lives.  Just because this one thing is not going as we want it, we are still happy in other areas of our lives.

Personalization:  This is not because we are unworthy or bad.

Awareness of these 3 P’s have saved me many times from falling into a terrible funk.  In retrospect, and possibly more importantly, I now clearly see that the times I did fall into funks were usually a result of believing it was an everlasting situation; letting it infringe upon the other areas of my life that had no relevance to that particular situation; and believing that my unworthiness, being not good enough, somehow was responsible for its occurrence. The 3 P’s definitely led me to the Pits!

An example of Permanence was, well, pretty much every time I got down I never could see the end of the tunnel.  My ego always had me thinking the bad stuff was forever.

An example of Pervasiveness was a time when I had a series of crappy work situations.  I completely lost perspective and I actually remember thinking these exact words:  ‘I can’t enjoy fall this year.’  My work life was so bad (or so I imagined), that I thought I did not have the right to find joy at all.  Even in nature and the weather!

Looking back, I can see how this doesn’t even make sense.  However, when I add the Personalization part, I can understand how this idea came to be.  When I believed the bad work situation was a result of my lack of worth or incompetence, then of course, how could I allow myself to find any joy when I believed I lacked value as a person.

The 3 P’s really work together and feed off of each other.  So, how do we keep the feeding frenzy in check?

First, realize this is the ego at work.  Permanence: The ego is not aware that everything changes and nothing is permanent.  The ego does not know about the soul and how Life goes on.  Pervasiveness: The little ego cannot get perspective to see that one thing does not affect everything. It can only see from its limited view.  Personalization:  The ego thinks everything is about ourselves and how great, or not great, we did.

The next step is pretty simple.  When faced with a negative or challenging situation, remind ourselves the crap isn’t forever.  Even if the situation does not change, the bad feeling will.  We can still enjoy other things in life amidst the unwanted circumstance.  And most importantly, remind ourselves that we are worthy and have value no matter what situation or circumstance confronts us (increasing self-worth posts).

Have the 3 P’s worked against you?  Realizing how can help you to not do it when the next challenge or negative circumstance arises.

Learning from Joy and Fun

A lot of the focus of this blog, in a nutshell, is on getting out of the bad (e.g., unworthiness) and into the good (e.g., worthiness).  Very important stuff, indeed.  It also is about learning and growing from negative or challenging situations.  Also important.  But, it recently dawned on me that we can – and should – learn and grow from joyful and fun situations, as well.

Upon reflection, I realize that I learn and grow from challenges out of a sense of desperation and much needed relief.  I reframe the “bad” event or situation to what I learned or what good came of it to get something out of it rather than just feeling bad because of it.  (Check out this previous post.)  So its’ occurrence wasn’t just in vain.  This is absolutely necessary to be joyful and I will continue doing this.  But, this is also the reason why I haven’t been learning and growing from good, happy, fun events and circumstances – there was no need.  I was happy so that was the end of that story.  I had fun, the end.

But I wonder, why not milk the good times for all they are worth?  Not only reminiscing and reliving those good feelings but making a deliberate point to see how they helped me.  If you believe in the law of attraction (and I do), then it would follow that putting more time and focus on the good, fun events and times will create more of them.

So, how do we learn and grow from fun and joy?  I have to admit, when I first had this idea, I had no clue!  I asked for divine guidance and intuitively received some answers.

First the basics – we must sincerely appreciate the joyful, fun event or situation.  Acknowledge it. Feel the goodness and revel in that good feeling.

Next, to the “work”.  We look at how we got to this fun, happy situation.  How were we acting, thinking, and feeling beforehand?  Did we deliberately bring about this fun, happy situation (perhaps from our Joy To-Do List)?  Or did it seem to come about on its own?

After that, then ask, what specifically about the fun, joyful time did we like?  Was it the people involved?  The topic?  Our own behavior?

Because self-worth is such a major subject for me, I then ask, how did self-worth play a role?

Answering these questions will help us to find not only valuable insights and lessons, but also tools we can use to bring about more enjoyable times and events.  The insights, lessons and tools are there.  It’s up to us if we choose to see them.

An example of mine comes from watching an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  First, I acknowledged and appreciated my laughter and the fun I was having.  Then I saw that I got to this fun place by honoring myself.  I had deliberately taken a few minutes from my busy day to do something enjoyable and special for myself.  What I specifically liked about this fun time was not just the comedy, but the fact that they were talking about how people should lighten up and laugh at themselves and their situations, even “bad” situations.  I learned from this that I have ideas and beliefs in common with other people.  I’m not the oddball I sometimes feel that I am.  Self-worth played a role because I felt worthy enough to honor my desire to do something purely for the benefit of feeling good.  If I hadn’t felt worthy, I wouldn’t have taken a break from what I “should” have been doing and then wouldn’t have laughed.  This reminds me that we could go all our lives and not laugh or enjoy ourselves if we do what we “should” and don’t deliberately take time to do what gives us pleasure. That’s quite a lot of valuable insights from an 18 minute laugh session.

What fun thing are you going to learn and grow from today?  🙂

Making Positive Lists

Let’s remind ourselves why deliberate positive thoughts are necessary. If our minds are left untended to, the ego creeps in and takes over with worry, fear and negativity. This is just human nature. So it is vital to our joy to consciously place good, positive thoughts in our awareness lest our egos will take charge.

Okay, so another way to use our thoughts to increase our joy is in finding positive aspects. We can find the positive in ourselves (which we’ve touched on in increasing our self-worth), in others, in circumstances, and even in challenging situations.

Positive Lists are similar to the appreciation exercise, but Positive Lists are aimed at a specific topic or person. For instance, we could make a list of positive traits of our spouse/partner, parent, friend, co-worker or ourselves. It could also be about our job, a vacation, or our home. It can even be about a (seemingly) “bad” situation or someone we don’t like.

The idea behind these lists is to shift our perception from negative to positive, to get us on the wavelength of a high vibration. Simply put, to make us feel good! Sometimes it is fun just to list a bunch of good things about someone or thing. Other times, it is greatly beneficial to deliberately adjust our bad feeling about someone or thing.

For instance, once when I was particularly feeling irritated by my husband’s actions (by the way, this is a normal part of close relationships!), I wrote a positive list about him. Not only did it make me feel better to focus on his good things, but I no longer felt irritated. Not only did I not feel irritated, but he no longer was doing those things in my presence! One time he began complaining about something that happened at work. Rather than try to ignore him (which I had tried in the past and found out does not work) I focused on my positive list about him. At the end of his rant, he ended by saying he was going to talk to another co-worker about it and not think about it anymore in that particular moment. Mind you, I had not even said a word to him. Within a month he proclaimed he wanted to be less cynical and more positive about things.

It is important to note that circumstances changed after I felt good. And that I did not set out to change anyone or thing, except for how I was feeling. I truly was focusing on and deeply feeling his positive attributes. It was not for pretend. The whole list was and is real. But, it did not matter if he saw his own good or not. It was all about how I was feeling about him. This is a good exercise in overcoming the ego rather than going down the usual ego path of pointing out how wrong or bad they are so we can feel better about ourselves. We are not trying to feel better by making another person wrong or inferior or by comparing ourselves to others. We truly are just acknowledging the positive in the other person, in a completely egoless way. We are deliberately making ourselves feel better and if circumstances happen to also change for the better, then that’s terrific as well.

Who or what are you going to make a Positive List about today? Try it! It will make you feel good!
Next time, we’ll focus on a Positive List about a “bad” situation.

What Lack of Self-Worth Looks Like

When we have low self-worth, we need external validation.  In other words, we need people’s approval, praise and admiration.  The ego will go to all lengths to get this; making us sick, tired, angry and stressed to get it.  Low self-worth is a sign that the ego is in charge.

You may be thinking, ‘I don’t have an issue with self-worth.  I feel pretty good about myself.’  That’s great and I hope you do have self-worth.  But, low self-worth can be cleverly disguised.  Afterall, the ego is involved and when the ego is involved things aren’t as clear as they may seem.  The ego wants to deceive us to prevent our change and personal growth.  Sometimes we directly seek people’s good opinion.  This is pretty straight forward.  But other times, we go about it indirectly and unconsciously. This is where it would be helpful to become more aware.  Perhaps we judge someone or put them down – this is so we can feel better about ourselves; or we need to show (to others or just ourselves) how someone is wrong or point out a mistake – this is so we can feel right and therefore better; or we choose to not forgive someone – this is so we can feel superior (ego thinks: ‘As long as I remember and not forgive that wrong thing you did, I can feel good that I didn’t do that.’)

If we are ever feeling any of the following things, that is an indicator of lack of self-worth:

  •    Needing to feel important
  •    Needing to feel we are better than him or her
  •    Comparing ourselves to others
  •    Making others wrong and ourselves right (or vice versa)
  •    Pointing out others’ faults or shortcomings
  •    Judging others
  •    Gossiping
  •    Not forgiving
  •    Needing to be center of attention/popular
  •    Feeling like what we say or do doesn’t matter or won’t make a difference
  •    Feeling not heard
  •    Feeling not respected
  •    Concern about making people mad
  •    Feeling like we don’t deserve something
  •    Thinking we are not capable
  •    Thinking our work is not good enough
  •    Feeling inferior to another person (not as pretty, smart, ambitious…)
  •    Need for perfection
  •    Wanting to fit in
  •    Considering what people might think about your looks, actions, ideas, etc.
  •    Changing your behavior because of what people may say or think
  •    Needing people to approve of you or your decisions

This is not a complete list and, of course, we may feel worthy in some areas and times and not others.  But who feels worthy 100% of the time about 100% of things?  This list isn’t to make us feel bad about ourselves.  This is to wake us up to see the ego’s disguised ways so that we can transcend the ego and get to true joy.

So we can get clear about when and how the ego is controlling our lives, let’s ask ourselves, How have I felt unworthy?  In what situations or with which people do I feel unimportant, unheard or that I don’t matter?  What do I think I don’t deserve and why not?  When have I changed my behavior based on what people might think of me?  When do I need to be right? When do I need people to praise me or my clothes, appearance, car, house, work, performance, etc?  Who can I not forgive? When or about whom do I judge or gossip?

A recent personal example- I hesitated telling my family and friends about this blog for fear of their bad opinions.  Actually, I didn’t fear their bad opinions.  More like a lack of enthusiasm, which my ego would cunningly twist into meaning a bad opinion.

Another recent example- I was so aggravated with and judged a coworker’s mistakes.  While I was muttering under my breath about her incompetence, I found a mistake of my own!  That’s when I realized my ego was putting her down in order to try to validate my self-worth.

But, what if we actually are right and another person wrong?  Or prettier, stronger, smarter, better at certain activities than others?  Let’s get into ranking and comparing next time.