There’s a story about a well known public speaker who offered a $20 bill to a large crowd. “Who wants this $20 bill?”
Most of the seminar attendees raised their hand, expressing excitedly that they would want it.
“In a moment, I am going to give this twenty dollar bill to one of you – but first, let me do this.”
The man crumpled the $20 dollar bill and asked: “Who still wants this bill?” Hands remained up in the air.
“But wait...,” he replied, “what if I do this?” The man dropped the $20 dollar bill on the ground and stumped it with his shoe.
He offered it to the crowd again, now crumpled and dirty. “Now, who still wants it?“
Still the hands went into the air.
He proceeded to give the $20 dollar note to someone in the audience, and then said:
“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No
matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.
Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.
We feel as though we are worthless.
But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who do love you.
The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by Who We Are and Whose We Are.
You are special – Don’t Ever forget it.”
Sometimes I feel like that crumpled, dirty, abused $20 bill. Sure, others could probably see my worth, but the pain, the shame, and the scars are real.
I used to try to hide my depression, my anger, and my fears. I used to think “I should know better,” “I should be positive,” “I should have it figured out.” But hiding, concealing, suppressing just made it all worse.
I’ve learned that maybe your family and friends won’t find out, but the misery, the despair, and the feelings of defeat don’t go away.
Many times, feeling unheard, misunderstood, unappreciated, caused me to want to give up. And then I stopped making my worth contingent upon what others think, say, or do. That was a positive change, but only worked to an extent.
And the thing with the $20 is that, though we can see someone’s worth at their worst, we can’t just seem to see it when it’s you under the shoe, trapped in the fist, dropped on the ground.
You want to scream: “Why thank you for noticing how much I’m worth, but would you stop hurting me already?”
I’ve realized that lows are just going to happen. We live in a universe of opposition, and we’re all going to face obstacles, feel sorrow, and fail much.
And in those inevitable, rough, tough, ugly moments, it doesn’t really matter if people tell you how special you are, or that you’re worth the full twenty dollars. It only matters what you tell yourself.
But, have you ever told yourself a positive affirmation, only to feel like a fraud?
I think we’ve all been there. I have struggled with this a lot, and there was a time I didn’t even try. I just wanted my life – and with it, my misery – to end. No matter how much I envisioned a different life or told myself I was lovable, beautiful, and valuable, I felt as if my only purpose was to be used, abused, crumpled and torn.
I still feel depressed from time to time, because the voice in my head still tell me that I shouldn’t have been born, that I am useless, worthless, and despicable… that I can’t do anything right.
What a mom says to a child becomes their inner voice.
But, I have found tools to cope with my feelings of unworthiness. That’s what makes a positive mom.
Being a positive mom doesn’t mean you live an untried life. Motherhood is hard and I am imperfect – that’s quite an equation. And even through my challenges taking college math, I feel this is an understatement.
Being a positive mom is not about having high self-esteem, being self-confident, or knowing your self-worth.
Let’s make some distinctions:
Self-esteem: liking yourself and reminding yourself about your good qualities,
Self-confidence: feeling competent and accomplished in certain areas of your life.
Self-worth: having a testimony of your divine identity and purpose. Knowing you’re worth the full 20 dollars.
I can say that throughout my life, I’ve learned to like myself, to feel confident, competent, and proud of my accomplishments, and that I know my purpose and divine worth as a daughter of God. And though I highly endorse getting to know yourself and having the necessary awareness to have this foundation, I can also say frankly that there are plenty of times in which, even with those assurances, I still don’t feel so precious, worthy, and let alone beautiful.
- Do you ever feel alone, depressed, and defeated?
- Do you ever beat yourself down?
- Do you ever feel like you don’t do enough, don’t have enough, and are not enough?
- Do you feel guilty because you should be happy, and not “depressed” for no apparent reason?
You hear voices telling you: “you’re worth the full 20 dollars, don’t focus on the pain, the pressure, and the filth!” And though you know they’re basically right, you feel so alone because they don’t get it.
So, if self-esteem won’t work, self-confidence doesn’t do it, and self-worth won’t take it away, what then can get me out of these dark moments of depression? What stops the suicidal thoughts? What fills the void and makes me whole again?
What helps is to carefully uncrumple the money note, to iron out the wrinkles until it’s neat, and crisp. No motivational speech or self-worth reminders are required, though healing words are welcome. It’s called self-compassion.
- It’s giving yourself permission to be kind, caring and loving toward yourself when you’re suffering.
- It’s giving yourself grace, recognizing in patience that we all have flaws, experience difficulties, and make mistakes.
- It’s giving yourself time and space to heal, over and over again, imperfectly.
When I decided I would become a positive mom, I figured it meant being unshakable, strong, and optimistic all the time. I thought this belief was what got me through that dark moment in my life, but I was wrong. I didn’t kill myself because I was optimistic, I resisted the ongoing temptation of ending my life because of love.
Pure love is the only force that can heal hurts, ease fears, and right wrongs. Love is what makes a positive mom… and it starts with loving yourself, not because you like who you are, or how competent you feel, or what others perceive you to be, but because you treat yourself as someone who is worthy of love. It’s not enough to know your identity, your choices must reflect it. And it’s not easy… but it is possible.
Do you treat yourself like you’re worth the full 20 dollars? Share your self-compassion tips with us below. I am so grateful for you!