Reflections on Worthiness and Self Image

By George A. Boyd © 2018

Q: From an early age, I have always felt unworthy. I have always felt inferior when I compared myself to others. Now that I’ve begun to do spiritual work, I believe this is holding me back. Can you shed some light on this issue?

A: Worthiness is a judgment people make when they are going to give a gift to someone, offer someone a job, or allow their son or daughter to marry someone. It carries with it the connotation that whoever is receiving their bestowal of kindness, money, or permission must have the requisite positive qualities, good character, or responsibility, so their gift will not be misused or squandered.

When you internalize the judgments people make about you as to whether or not you are worthy shapes your beliefs about your worthiness. It colors whether you believe you are worthy of receiving what you want in life, or whether you see yourself as qualified enough, experienced enough, or responsible enough to work in a career or to care for a spouse and family.

This internal judgment you internalize shapes your sense of what you can, be, and have. It has been called narcissistic entitlement.

If parents, relatives, friends, and teachers love you unconditionally and reward you for simply being and participating, you might get a sense that you are entitled to whatever you want—because people have continually given you this message.

If on the other hand, your parents, relatives, friends, and teachers made you work hard for their rewards and praise, you may internalize a belief that your worthiness is conferred based on your performance, your attainment of standards of excellence, and demonstrating noble qualities and good character.

Alternately, if parents, relatives, friends, and teachers continually abused you and bullied you—told you that you were worthless, inferior, you didn’t measure up, you were deficient, or you were flawed or unlovable—you might internalize these harsh judgments and conclude you are unworthy of love, money, happiness, and the other good things in life.

These internal judgments about worthiness appear to lie upon a continuum that ranges from antisocial to grandiose.

  1. Sadistic or antisocial people believe they deserve whatever they desire, and they force others to give them what they want. If they don’t get what they want, they may make the other person suffer for not giving them what they want—showing others abuse, cruelty, and even torture.
  2. Depressed people believe they are undeserving and unworthy of receiving anything they want. People who have been abused may feel this way.
  3. Self-reformers believe they might not currently deserve to achieve what they want, but believe they can prepare themselves to receive the good things of this world by changing themselves through education and training, working on their issues, or improving their habits and character.
  4. Passive aggressive people believe that they deserve to get ahead, but the world is unfair. They perceive Fate gives unworthy people the good things in life, while they are denied. These people harbor resentment, anger, and envy towards those who have what they want, but can’t seem to achieve.
  5. Those who perceive they live in a just and moral universe believe that they deserve what they experience in their lives, and they receive what is just and fair. They are grateful for what they receive.
  6. Those perceive they are in touch with their spiritual core believe they have the ability to manifest or create whatever they desire, and they are worthy of anything they desire. If their magical beliefs do not manifest what they desire, they may blame others or continually look for some flaws in themselves that purportedly block their manifestation.
  7. Those who become grandiose and develop pathological narcissism believe they inherently deserve what they want, because they are a superior or god-like being; that others should recognize their greatness, and obey, serve, and worship them.

If you are dealing with issues of feeling unworthy, it may be helpful if you can begin to adopt the mindset of a self-reformer. Instead of believing you are inherently unworthy and undeserving and that there is no way out—a belief that will paralyze your forward movement with depression, apathy, and hopelessness—you can begin to see that if you can improve yourself, you can prepare yourself to have what you want. This will give you motivation to begin to work on yourself and start improving your lot.

I’m reminded of the story of Jack LaLanne, an exercise aficionado, who was shamed as a teenager, because he was a “97 pound weakling.” This spurred him to become a body builder and world-renowned exercise coach. Those that shamed him came around to admire him and emulate him.

Q: I also believe that my self-image is damaged. Can this be rehabilitated?

A: Self-image is the ego’s inner picture of who and what you are. Like worthiness, there is a continuum of self-image states. These can be broken into personal self-image states and transpersonal or archetypal self-image states.

Personal self-image states are based on your identity with the roles you play in the world.

Transpersonal self-image states appear to arise when your Soul migrates through the Psychic Realm, and you are caught up in the cascade of visions and inspirations that flood the Soul.

Examples of personal self-image states include the following:

  1. Psychotic self-image – At this level of self-image, you feel your world has fallen apart and you are subject to gross distortions of perception (hallucinations), belief (delusions), and mood.
  2. Demonic, criminal, or sadistic self-image – if you have this type of self-image, your sense of entitlement makes you rationalize it is all right to harm or abuse others to get what you want.
  3. Neurotic or anxiety-laden self-image – when this self-image state is present, you may act out self-defeating patterns of behavior that sabotage your happiness and success, or your anxiety and self-doubt may hinder you doing what you want to do. You may be conflicted and confused, and it is difficult for you to make decisions.
  4. Normal or realistic self-image – when your self-image enters this zone, you become adjusted to life and you believe that can get what you need. You are able to secure a job and find a life partner, and you plan for your future. You are realistic and hard working.
  5. Successful self-image – when your self-image migrates into this level, you may be able to get extra education or training that qualifies you for a good-paying job. You accrue some wealth and you can begin to enjoy the good things in life.
  6. Highly successful self-image – those who reach this level of self-image typically are millionaires with abundant wealth, and can get whatever they desire in the world.
  7. Celebrity or leader self-image – those who ascend to the summit of the mountain of personal self-image become the role models for others, and typically have the accoutrements of power and wealth to influence the world around them.

Those that embark on the Path of spiritual development may sometimes have an ego-death experience that makes them identify with a spiritualized self-image. They die from their role in the world, and they come to regard themselves as an archetypal self that has non-ordinary powers and enhanced intuitive knowledge. Some examples of these forms of archetypal self-image that appear when the Soul crosses the Psychic Realm include:

  1. Reality creator self-image – those whose self-image has polarized at this level believe they can influence reality through their intention and thought. They may believe in the operation of the Law of Attraction.
  2. Psychic powers self-image – those whose self-image operates at this level may be engaged in developing their psychic powers, and experimenting with using them.
  3. Metaphysical practitioner self-image – after much study of the intuitive sciences or non-empirical healing systems, they may become a metaphysical counselor or alternative healing practitioner. They may function as healers and professional psychics.
  4. Channeler and spiritualist self-image – Those whose self-image reaches this zone may believe they can commune with the dead, with spirits, angels, and Ascended Masters. They behold entities that are not in the room, as a matter of course, and may receive odd information from these sources.
  5. Star being self-image – Those whose self-image becomes established at this level may believe in alien abductions, the presence of aliens among us, and might report that they regularly commune with an extraterrestrial intelligence.
  6. Library of all-knowledge self-image – Those whose self-image migrates into this realm believe that they can access the stored experience of the Akashic Records and commune with any person who has ever lived.
  7. Glorified self-image – those who move their self-image close to the top of the Psychic Realm may come to think of themselves as a Master or Christ-like being.

Those whose Souls evolve beyond the top of the Psychic Realm typically identify with their spiritual essences—their Soul, a nucleus of identity, or their spiritual heart. This spiritualized self-image that emerges in the Psychic Realm disappears; grounding in this higher “essence of being” replaces it.

Most people who are struggling with a “damaged self-image” are working out issues from the neurotic or anxiety-laden zone of the personal self-image. You can find help for these issues from a competent psychotherapist or counselor, who has learned methods to help you uncover and eliminate these issues. Your task is to retire enough of these issues, so that you can function normally in life, and begin to work on actualizing your dreams.

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