Remember Wayne and Garth, from Wayne’s World on Saturday Night Live? When the lovable rock hards, played by Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey, would meet their rock heroes they would bow down and wail “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” This was their way of paying homage to people like Alice Cooper and Bruce Springsteen or whomever the musical guests were on SNL. Silly and fun, they still make me laugh.
Worthiness is the topic this week on the blog Ordinary Courage, by the brilliant Brenè Brown. I have mentioned here before, that Brenè is a researcher at the University of Houston who studies shame and authenticity. She has a new DVD of a lecture she gave on the subject of worthiness and as a way to celebrate the release of it, she is hosting a Week of Worthiness. She has asked bloggers to write about worthiness and post to her blog so that readers can join the conversation. She is also giving away several of the DVDs to a few readers, so drop by her site and sign up!
But, back to Wayne and Garth. What makes their unworthiness so humorous is that they say aloud what we are afraid to admit. I’ve yet to meet a person who has never felt “less than” at some point in his or her life. Sometimes, we allow others to make us feel this way and sometimes we don’t need the help, we can make ourselves feel unworthy all by ourselves, thank you very much.
I know several women whose primary job it is to care for small children. As most of us know, this is an all-consuming but virtually invisible job. As long as you keep the children alive and fairly well cared for, no one notices what you have done. Many will see what you haven’t done, like the laundry or cooking, but the thousand little things that make up a day of caretaking go largely unnoticed. These women are relieved when their husbands are traveling because they do not feel they have to justify their existence. Now, not one of these people is married to a Ward Cleaver type, so this may be entirely self-imposed. But there it is, nonetheless.
Last night, America’s Sweetheart, Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her portrayal of a real-life mother in the movie, The Blind Side. In her acceptance speech she said, with head bowed, “Did I really earn this, or did I just wear y’all down?” It seems even beautiful, rich, funny women don’t feel worthy all the time either. Interesting.
As some of you know, I am a yoga teacher, which is not to say it is my day job, but more accurately, it is the way I try to live my life. On the yoga mat and off of it. This is not easy, but it is more authentic to me than any other way I have tried to live. Yoga is not a religion, but you can use it as a spiritual path, if you choose and I do. One of the main tenets of yoga is to peel away the layers of the ego until you reach your essence, the Self. Easy, huh? Some days, yes. On others, I think to myself, “That’s it, today is the day I will be found out for the fraud that I am!” Luckily, yoga teaches patience and I just try to keep my mouth shut until this feeling goes away. On good days, I realize that feelings of unworthiness are part of the ego I am trying to molt from my Higher Self. Breathing great, deep yoga breaths helps.
Considering the state of the world right now, some people are finding it difficult to feel worthy. When you have a safe, warm home, your health and some means, do you have a right to worthiness when there is suffering on a global scale? I do not have the answers, but I do know that making oneself feel less than does not help anyone: not yourself, not your family, not the people in Haiti, Chile or Turkey. Fully realized, healthy, worthy, whole-hearted people can change the world. One breath at a time.