The past few days have been more than a little emotional for me, for a variety of reasons – not the least of which has to do with watching a couple of my friends struggle with feeling “less than” even though if you look at things on paper, they have amazing lives. I have struggled with this myself in the past – heck, if I’m being completely honest, I still do from time to time. But when people I care about are going through the same feelings, it makes me heartsick.
Last Friday, I was pondering this phenomenon of feeling “less than” while driving to work. I was kind of pissed off because I was feeling low myself, but also feeling guilty because I could not for the life of me figure out why I would feel that way given my life. I have a good job, many good friends and family, I am healthy, and I have every financial need and creature comfort you can think of. But all week, I’d been feeling….out of sorts and discontent for what seems like no good reason.
And then, in my facebook newsfeed, came wisdom from one of my favorite modern-day philosophers. Yep, that would be one Paul Carter, of Lift-Run-Bang fame. He wrote the following:
“The greatest gift you can ever give yourself is the undying belief that you are worthy. Someone who doesn’t value their own self worth cannot fully accept anything gifted to them, or anything earned.
If you do not believe you are worthy of someone’s love, you will never experience it. If you do not believe you are worthy of adoration, you will never receive it. If you do not believe you are worthy of being strong you will never know it.
Inhale and grok the belief that you are worthy of things both gifted and earned. Without this, you will never understand the value of who you are, what you are capable of, or appreciate the fruits of your labor.
Now go, and win the fucking day.”
I was floored. In eight short sentences, Paul summed up not just what ailing me, but what I and most anyone else in the same situation needs to do about it. People spend their entire lives trying to understand what is missing, and never even get the chance to try and pursue it – and here is Paul, explaining as plain as day what is missing for most anyone who has a good life and great capabilities and yet struggles to harness their own power and make the most of it.
The most important sentence for me is this: “Inhale and grok the belief that you are worthy of things both gifted and earned.” When I shared this on my own facebook wall, I had a couple of people ask what the heck the word grok means. For those of you who are unfamiliar with science fiction literature, the word grok comes from Robert Heinlein’s book “Stranger in a Strange Land”, and is a Martian word. Heinlein explains it as follows in the book:
“Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthling assumptions) as color means to a blind man”
Grok doesn’t just mean that you think something or you feel like you understand a concept. It means that you have absorbed something to the degree that every molecule of you *gets it* and it’s part of who you are. I don’t just think I’m a good friend, I grok friendship. Paul doesn’t just understand what it means to be a good father, it’s one of the most fundamental parts of his identity. And what he says we need to do in order to make the most of our lives is grok that we deserve to do just that.
There is nothing easy about this whatsoever. It is incredibly, incredibly difficult and I can’t say I’m close to achieving it. I can, however, say that on average, I might be closer to this than I have been at any point of my life. One of the wildest things about recognizing our worthiness is that for all our willingness to brag about what we have or what we do, we have a terrible time feeling worthy of love or respect just because of who we are. If I could figure out how to turn that tide and get people to understand this, I would be a gazillionaire, but so far I’m at a loss. The only thing I have figured out so far is to tell people that I love and appreciate them for who they are and hope that over time it seeps into their soul and they grok it for themselves. I’ve made a point to do just this the last few days for a few people that need to know how worthy they are as people. In all of cases, the people in question are fighting either internal or external battles, and in at least one case, I’m not sure the message was really understood. Ordinarily, I am a result oriented person so that would be frustrating, but I can deal with that because I have my eye on the prize.
Win the fucking day.
Actually – it’s broader than that – the goal is to win every day, for the rest of our lives.