I felt several moments of consuming . . . worthlessness the other day. It washed over me like a wave of nausea – strong and painful, and, thankfully, fairly short lived.
I had been out running errands – wrestling with a vague unhappiness – when I forced myself to dig inward a bit and search out the root of my unsettled feelings. I’ve discovered that often, when I’m feeling agitated, if I pry about inside myself for a moment, I can actually pinpoint the cause of my distress. It’s generally surprising – sometimes as simple as something I had forgotten to do. What I found this time was utterly ridiculous. The things that were pulling me down to a sense of insignificance were so small and unimportant, so trivial, that I was a bit disgusted to find them residing inside of me – setting off feelings of discontent, spasms of uselessness.
A very serious and no nonsense side of me gave a stern lecture to the other moping and miserable side of me. She said all the sensible things about who I am and about what truly matters in an individual. She said how absolutely absurd it was to believe, even for a minute, that the things I was carrying on about had any bearing on my worth.
Still, I didn’t immediately believe. It was a sickness that couldn’t be eradicated that quickly.
I seem to be capable of many points of feeling and thought at once (perhaps I have several multiple personalities tucked nicely away inside of me) because during this little two-way conversation, I am quite sure a third me was busy analyzing it all – seeing how the sensible me was not getting through with all her reasoning to the abject me – and this third me was concerned by this for a very different reason. She was nervously thinking thoughts along the lines of, “Oh no! So good sense and showing someone truth doesn’t always immediately fix it? What about when my kids are feeling worthless because they didn’t get asked to the school dance, or failed a math exam? Are they not going to believe when I tell them what really matters?”
With that, the three of us merged slowly back into one. The fever broke. And I didn’t just see, but knew and felt things more clearly.
There are moments when some small failing, some desire be a certain thing, to have a certain skill, or be better than I currently am with a skill I do have, makes me feel utterly lacking in confidence – as if somehow all my worth hinges on . . . whatever it might be that day – how minimal my running has gotten due to injuries, how much better I would like my writing to be, etc.
But truly, I do know, once I come back around to it, what gives me confidence. I know how to bolster my feelings of worth. When I open myself up to increased compassion and understanding, when I try – truly try – to be patient with my kids, when I do kind and helpful things for others, when I study the scriptures and listen to the spirit, when I exercise faith amidst difficulty and, mostly, when I am constantly saying prayers of gratitude for the people and things I have in my life, my confidence soars. I seem to pull the veil of forgetfulness (that I believe covered our minds when we came to earth for this test of agency) slightly aside. I swear I get small glimpses – bits of remembrance that say, “Yes! This is who you are, Nancy! This is what you wanted! This is why you came! This is what you wanted to gain! These were the things you hoped to become.” I feel certain, in those moments, that who I am is not comprised solely of the traits I have been developing for 36 years of mortal existence. I feel confident that I am someone who was existing and learning and improving for years upon years before ever coming here. It gives me such hope to see small increases in kindness or wisdom – knowing that I fought for the chance to come here and develop those things; feeling certain that before I came here I wanted to develop these traits – understanding that some things could never reach their full potential in me were they not developed amidst the struggles of mortal life and a mortal mind and body.
I am sure I was excited to experience much that mortality has to offer – running and talent developing included – but it is in expanding who I am on a more spiritual level that I find worth. I sometimes think about Solomon – the Lord appearing to him in a vision and asking what he would like given to him. Of all the things he could have asked for, he asked for wisdom and an understanding heart. I love that that was his biggest desire, and, while my desires would be slightly different, I feel confident they are connected to the person I am on a more eternal scale.
I suppose I won’t always be able to toss out “worthless” or “inconsequential” with a word – particularly when helping my children, but I know ways of getting there. I know how much more satisfying and bolstering it is to feed the eternal you than to pander to whims or base your value on fading glories. That is what I will keep working on in myself, and that is what I will try and teach my children.