“Thank you, Annie, I'll try to deserve your belief in me”, is what a dear friend said to me yesterday on Facebook.
The back story, in brief, is that – out of the blue – she made a glowing reference to my new book (and warmed the cockles of my heart, in the process). I replied, perfectly honestly, by thanking her and reminding her that it's about time she started to prize her own gifts. Hundreds and hundreds of other people already prize her gifts, after all. Who is she to be an exception?
Seriously though, she's a delightful woman, who has helped many people to live happier lives. And she knows it.
Yet she struggles to own it.
What is that about?
Well, you could call it a Woman Thing, and you wouldn't be far wrong: we women have been trained to Terminal Modesty from the time we could FIRST put our own socks on – or possibly even before.
We were also trained to believe in the tooth fairy ( I LIKE the tooth fairy) and Father Christmas, and Prince Charming ( I DON'T like Prince Charming) and a World Where Everyone Is Nice.... Some of those beliefs we have jettisoned along the way...
And some, regrettably, we have NOT. (The number of women I speak with who know better, but still have Prince Charming yearnings is alarmingly high.)
You get the point...
You learned a lot of beliefs in your early life that are no longer relevant. They’ve long since bitten the dust.
So, how come that belief about Self-Worth Ground Hog Day, about having to earn your value, over and over again, is so firmly with you?
One of the most deep-rooted and damaging beliefs that most women have is that they have to keep earning the thing that they already have earned, many times over.
My lovely friend is still trying to earn her status as a beacon of love and hope, when everybody who knows her knows that that is who she is. She's 'earned' that status many, many times over.
Let's transpose this kind of block to another scenario. Suppose my lovely friend was a doctor and every day she went to work feeling she had to prove her clinical acumen – although she'd already done so time and time again. In fact, for precisely that reason 'people' kept referring the seriously difficult cases to her.
Would that mean she spent a fair bit of her energy driving herself mad and tiring herself out for nothing?
“Would it impair her efficiency?”
Given the kind of commitment to service that she has, she would not let it impair her efficiency. However, it would mean that she had to work an awful lot harder to achieve what she was more than capable of achieving.
And in case, as a Founder Member of the Terminally Modest Sorority, you're telling yourself: but if she wasn't always questioning her worth she'd become complacent, and let her standards slip...
No, no, NO, NOOOO!
That's another – unfounded - limiting belief: it goes with ‘being too big for your boots’.
All that owning her own deservingness would really mean is that she would have more time and energy to do what she does best without having to answer to the negative 'noise' in her head.
The point of this story is this: you don't have to prove your own worth anew every day. You already have. You don't throw away the possessions you've acquired with your hard earned cash every day, and then set about accumulating them all over again, every day, do you?
It makes no more sense to do that with your sense of being deserving of the very best.
Own it. Use it. Enjoy it. And instead of indulging in Terminally Modest Angst allow yourself time to P-L-A-Y.