What is the story that you believe about yourself?
Do you believe you’re smart? Attractive? Lovable? Worthy?
Or are you carrying a different story in your head? One that has you believing that you are somehow not enough - of anything?
For many years, this was my story - a myth I had made up about myself. As a young child, I was deeply affected by my parents’ divorce and came away from that event with the feeling that if I had just been BETTER somehow that my parents would have stayed together.
Born from that was the story that would define me for much of the rest of my life: “Ty, there is something wrong with you.”
As I grew older, feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth were my constant companions. I tried a series of things to quiet the storm of emotions stirring inside me - food, money, shopping, relationships, sex, drama - but nothing ever worked for very long. Afterward, I would inevitably be left with the same feelings of emptiness, and often, an additional layer of shame as well. “Why the hell did I do that?” became a regular refrain in my head.
Can you relate to this? Have you ever felt that you were unhappy with yourself and didn’t quite understand why? I often felt confused about why I felt this way and was too unwilling - or too scared - to investigate.
Eventually, what worked to silence my internal emotional and spiritual unrest was alcohol and drugs. They worked well - until they didn’t.
My life, once filled with promise and professional success, transformed into one that included broken relationships with my family and friends, unemployment, homelessness, deep alcoholism and addiction, rehab, jail, a mental hospital, suicide attempts. Then finally - after I’d had enough pain - I acknowledged that I needed help, and I wholly and utterly surrendered to God.
I had that moment that we in recovery call “hitting bottom.” I was given the absolute gift of desperation, the same way that the lifelong smoker diagnosed with cancer finds the motivation to quit and save his life because he has no choice.
Desperation made me do what I never could before: put aside my fears and face the story I had made up about myself in childhood and believed all my life. And when I did this, I could find no evidence that there was something wrong with me. What I found was a lot of evidence to the contrary - multiple instances in my life where people told and showed me that I was worthy, good enough, and a solid human being.
After this sometimes painful process, lots of time, and deep self-reflection, my self-worth has improved dramatically. I can now view myself through a realistic lens and see me for who I really am - a kind, thoughtful, imperfect person who deserves happiness.
This type of change in personal belief can happen for anyone - even you. If you are having feelings of low self-worth or inadequacy, or if you feel as if your life is not all that you want, I strongly urge you to look at the stories you believe about yourself and question their validity. Perhaps like me, you’ll be able to find a new belief and a lot more happiness.
Change your story, change your life!
*Ty is a Recovery Career Coach, working with people in recovery from addictions, homelessness, and criminal records rebuild their careers. Career coaching for individuals or workshops for groups available via Zoom.
He is also a public speaker on the topics of personal change and recovery, using his triumph over drug addiction and homelessness to illustrate how all people can change their lives, no matter how dark it seems.
Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org