Saturday, 6 June 2009

We're not worthy

Before you read this, I want you to think of ten positive things about yourself. You will see why by the end of my blog.
A friend gave me a beautiful silk notebook as a gift, about five years ago. The cover is rich, reddish-brown, almost the colour of polished copper with a ‘framed’ panel of sinuous, vertical meandering flowers and acanthus leaves embossed in the middle of the front outer cover. For five years, it has lived on top of my piano alongside my metronome. It stays there, gathering dust, each parchment page as virginal and empty as when it was hand bound. It wasn’t until a conversation with a friend, that I realised why.

Apparently, her sister has a gift for writing poetry and in an attempt to encourage and inspire, F bought her a luxurious notebook for her ideas and notes. After a few weeks, she discovered her sister hadn't used it - the reason, her sister told her, was because it was “too lovely to write in...”

Following lengthy discussions with her sibling and others, F concluded that her sister didn't feel that she was ‘worthy’ of the notebook. It was as if somehow, it was 'too good' and too beautiful for her to write in - that her writing did not measure up to the paper.

I smiled as F recounted the tale and told her about my own notepad - how I hadn't defaced it for fear that my writing would spoil it. It was too beautiful to waste it on my scribbling.

As if to further illustrate the point, I remembered this tale whilst clearing my Nan’s house after she died. Nan always liked to keep a pair of slippers, dressing gown and nightdress ‘for best,’ just in case she had to go into hospital. Why then had she squirreled seven dressing gowns, ten nightdresses, four pairs of slippers and three bottles of Oil of Ulay? In her wardrobe, I found rail after rail of lovely clothes, hardly worn and at least ten garments still with the labels on. On the top of her dressing table sat a whole collection of Helena Rubenstein Apple Blossom – four un-opened spray perfumes, matching soaps, talc, and shower gel - all hardly used. Mind you, I can't talk - I still have a hardly used bottle of Coco Chanel eau de parfum that cost my husband a small fortune when he bought it nearly seven years ago. Well, I only wear it on special occasions-maybe his work Christmas party and my birthday.

So why don’t we indulge and use or spoil ourselves if we have nice things or are given lovely gifts? I feel sure that F’s theory is correct-it is about our feeling of ‘self worth.’

Self worth is different to self-esteem. Self-esteem can go up and down. When I was a Bank Manager, for example, if my Branch and staff achieved our monthly sales targets and received praise, recognition and maybe even financial reward, I would feel good about myself. When we did not, I felt terrible. Self-worth is something you are born with and not changeable. You are worthwhile and have a value – it can’t be taken away from you. You can’t lose it. But you can lose sight of it and forget your own value.

Our feeling of self worth comes from the skills we possess; our achievements and successes, and status including our financial position and even our physical attributes. When we find ourselves not measuring up to society’s criteria for 'worthiness’, we can suffer serious consequences, and our self-worth depreciates dramatically. Of course, nothing eats at self-worth faster than regret, anger or fear. Some of us encounter more than others. For example if we are in an unsatisfactory relationship or have a domineering parent.

From my own experience, the pursuit of perfection and approval steadily drove me further from peace and self-confidence. As a child, I had it drummed in to ‘love my neighbour as myself,’ and not to brag or be selfish. As a teenager, there was a tendency to minimise accomplishments to avoid appearing conceited. By the time, I was an adult I always put the ‘neighbour’ first and had developed a kind of false humility to avoid looking prideful. One of Workaholic Hubby’s biggest criticisms of me is that I ‘put myself down.’ He says I am always doing it, but I can’t help it. I don’t even realise I’m doing it sometimes. Maybe somewhere along the road in my sub-conscious – that perhaps I stopped liking myself, and started to believe I did not deserve anything good - Self-esteem suffered while self-worth was forgotten.
Now back to the question posed in the opening line of my blog. Well, how easily did you reach your target of ten positives about yourself? Would the task have been easier if I had set you ten negatives? I know mine would.

The reality is that loving your neighbour as you would yourself begins with you. You must love and value yourself if you are to love others. You have to respect yourself and acknowledge your own self-worth. You must take care of YOU so that you can love and help your neighbour. Be kind to yourself for it does not make you selfish.

Until another day
Bye for now


Preseli Mags said...
Yes, it was really difficult to think of ten positives. Negatives would be much easier, which is very sad really. That's a very thought-provoking blog, Angel. I know exactly what you mean about the beautiful notebook - I have a very lovely silver photograph album that I have never put any pictures in for the same reason. I think I'll take that as homework!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Faith said...
Excellent blog Angel, and I dived straight in without thinking of 10 positives as I knew it would take me ages! It is similar to another good blog I read recently by, I think, Fire Byrd. I am just starting to realise that at over 50 years of age, I might as well use my stuff as there is no better 'best' than now! Your nan's collection of nighties, olays etc reminded me of exhub2's mother - when she died we cleared out loads of unused goodies. I think she was a hoarder because she had come from such a poor Irish family - no shoes to go to school in - that she couldnt believe that she could now have things. It's very sad. Let's all who read this blog use something 'good' or 'special' that we have been 'saving' this week!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Elizabethd said...
Well written Angel.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

LittleBrownDog said...
Very thoughtful blog, Angel, and so true. I think I got up to about five positives before I got stuck, and I know just what you mean about the beautiful notebooks and barely used bottles of perfume - I'm just the same.

Friday, September 19, 2008

snailbeachshepherdess said...
Ouch - cringeing well here - three gorgeous water colour sketch pads kept flat under the matress for goodness what do I do?
Very thought provoking blog Angel.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Working mum said...
Thought provoking! I came up with four, not good, eh?

But, I think I score Brownie points for this one - I have some beautiful Royal Doulton Crystal wine glasses that we received as a wedding present; I do not save them for best, we use them all the time as I think that is the way to appreciate them. Will that redeem me?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Arcadian Advocate said...
Yours is an interesting blog that I first found today.

Saying 'No' is a vital tool easier to do as we get older, and I am sorry about your Gran, we too have lost someone this year and it is still sharp and raw.
However, the list of 10 things will need to be thought about . First attempt:
kind, empathetic, reliable, knowledgable, funny [I guess this depends on your sense of humour], writes a lot, faithful, loyal, honest and well completely myself. Will that do?

Do please come visit my blog, I am rather new to all this: http;//

Hope to see you soon and enjoyed your blog.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Marianne said...
Hi Angel,
Thanks for visiting my blog.

When my life collasped, we lost our home, car and finally the marriage itself disappeared. It taught me to live every day in the present and not to assume that you will have tomorrow what you have today.
Enjoy it while you can.

Monday, October 06, 2008

CAMILLA said...
A wonderful written post Angel.

I have two notebooks that friend has given me as gifts, and they still remained untouched, so I have learned a lesson there.

I have to agree.... I could easily write negatives rather than positives. Totally agree about love thy neighbour.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Tattie Weasle said...
I confess I have a beautiful notebook that I have not written in as well - hating to despoil it.
Very thought provoking...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

angel said...
Lovely post,i also have a notebook that i "may spoil" if i use it, your post has really made me think.
Thank you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fennie said...
Only just caught up. You would not believe how much of this I recognise.
The trick is perhaps to live life at right angles to events and not in parallel with them. If you live in parallel, it's like being on a wave - you are up and down, up and down, with every bit of praise of criticism that comes your way. But if you live your life at right angles you can become detached and realise that how you feel about yourself is how you decide to feel and not how events make you feel. Very Buddhist and Very Difficult

Sunday, October 12, 2008

toady said...
Only just caught up with this and wow did it ring bells. Being the youngest of 4 and a girl I think praise was a bit thin on the ground in order 'not to spoil me'. Now find it very hard to accept it if any comes my way and can't take criticism either.
Funny lot aren't we.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sally's Chateau said...
Lovely blog, I too have a pristine notebook which I hate to 'spoil' and wise words indeed about valueing yourself.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Exmoorjane said...
I tend to dive in and use my notebooks and then feel I have 'let them down' by not writing good stuff in them. So maybe I'm one step on but still not really there!
I loved this - chimed a chord for sure.

1 comment:

Milla said...

oh phew, am not going mad, this was from last year - I remember reading it, so why isn't my comment here?? Anyway, I no longer save for best, although most def did for the first 35 years or so of my life. And as for loving that wretched old neighbour, chances are the pugger won't be loving you back! Nodding vehemently through much of this.