The boy grew up into a man, knowing that he was unworthy of praise, of success, of love.
The boy, as an adult, got a job but didn’t really think he was good enough to do the job well. He faked it, deathly afraid every single day that he would be found out, mocked, and fired. He tried not to put himself in the spotlight so no one would see his unworthiness.
But he was deathly afraid of people seeing him fail. So he held himself back, careful not to do anything where he might fail. He put off taking on tough tasks and formed a long habit of procrastination. This came to rule his life, affecting his health habits, financial habits, and relationships.
The boy, now that he was an adult, got into a couple of long-term relationships, hoping to find someone to make him happy. He didn’t believe he could make them happy or get them to love the true him, because he already knew he was unworthy of love. But maybe if he was really nice to them, and only showed them the good parts of himself, they’d think he was lovable. So he never tried to be truly honest and never found true intimacy. He could only show his partner certain parts that might win him love.
And he was always ready for them to find out how bad he was and to leave him. In fact, he often left them before that could happen. If he didn’t leave them, he kept himself only half in the relationship, with one foot out the door. As a result, his romantic partners never felt his full commitment, yet always wanted it.
This was true of every friendship and professional relationship. He was never fully committed or fully honest and never showed his true self.
This is the story of Unworthiness. And it is more common than you might expect.
My Inner Narrative of Unworthiness
One of my longest-running inner narratives is that I’m not good enough—that I’m somehow unworthy to teach, to write books, or to train people in uncertainty.
As I’ve worked with thousands of people in changing their lives, I’ve found this is one of the most common inner narratives there is.
We’re unworthy. Unworthy of praise, of putting our work out there in the world, of leading a team or community, of creating something meaningful in the world. We’re unworthy of success. Of happiness. Of peace. Of financial comfort. Of loving relationships. We’re unworthy of love.
We’re not good enough: not to tackle our toughest struggles, change our addictions, change our diet, or to start exercising. We’re not good enough to change a bad habit or start a good one, like meditating. We’re not good enough to put our writing or art out in public, start a podcast, or launch our business. We’re not good enough for others to recognize our accomplishments.
We’re not good enough, and we’re unworthy.