Feeling worthless

Joey Garcia

My boyfriend of 11 years broke up with me because he said he couldn’t live with my insecurity and anger anymore. I know he loved me and maybe still does, but he is convinced that I can’t change because so many times I swore I would and didn’t. He might be open to getting back together if he saw that I had made changes. How can I spruce up my self-esteem? How do I learn to believe that I am just as good as anyone else no matter how much I weigh or how much money I make? Deep down I really think I am pretty worthless. Any advice?

Yes, don’t seduce yourself into believing that, if you make the right alterations, your boyfriend will race back to you. Change because you’re exhausted by daily bouts with your own insecurity and anger. Change because you yearn to be free from using insecurity and anger to manipulate people into remaining in relationship with you. Change because changing would bring you closer to becoming the person that God is calling you to be: passionate not angry, continually aware of God’s presence, convinced of your own blessedness, the blessedness of others and its value in service to the planet.

Low self-esteem is an assortment of egocentric thoughts and behaviors. Most quick fixes recommended in pop psychology and pseudo-spirituality encourage a shift from a deflated to an inflated ego. A truly spiritual approach would guide you toward understanding why you created those thoughts and behaviors, reveal how they served you and support you in choosing to think, feel and behave differently. In other words, the antidote to low self-esteem is self-understanding. Begin to develop this by writing, daily, in a journal and reading, carefully, what you’ve written. If you need questions as prompts, try any book by Zen Buddhist teacher Cheri Huber.

Also, find a spiritual teacher, someone who really embodies the values that you admire and who you can visit, in person, at least once a month. A spiritual teacher is not a psychic, astrologer, numerologist or Tarot card reader. While all of that is great fun, people in those fields usually tell you who they think you are (based on the belief system they’re using). They don’t teach you how to discover the truth of who you are, which is what you’re hungering to know and integrate.

I am frustrated by the women who write to you. They are in and out of psychotherapy and read numerous books, but their relationships fail. This may sound sexist, but survey men and you’ll find it’s true: the problem with women is that they don’t cook (and no, microwave, boxed, packaged and cans do not count), they don’t give oral sex (I don’t mean just touch it and get it over with), and they talk too much about nothing. So, why get married?

You may be providing a public service by not getting married. Marriage is a sacred union of two people that is based in genuine love, not in getting your oral (food, sex) and aural (silence) needs met. My happily married friend George says, “Relationships are give and take. He’s not giving, so he’s not getting either.” My cousin Joe said, “Only male chauvinistic, shallow, selfish people think like you. You have no depth of understanding about the nourishing love that our souls need.” My thought? You learn how to cook from scratch, give fabulous oral sex and stop talking (about women) so much.

Meditation of the week
If deep down you think you’re pretty worthless, you’re not going deep enough. That’s my advice to anyone struggling with self-esteem, but isn’t it also good advice for any difficult situation? As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, “Just keep going. No feeling is final.”

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