Are You Defining Your Worth Based On Codependent Expectations?
By Marshall Burtcher
Codependency is the strategy you used to survive unreliable relationships. It has been your best effort to nurture three specific needs met that are essential to your survival and ability to thrive. Those three needs are: the need for safety, the need for connection, and the need for a stable sense of worth (I call this value-identity).
Today, we are going to explore how codependency influences the third necessity: one’s value-identity and sense of worth.
The need for a healthy, properly sourced sense of worth is vital to our very existence. It is central to our efforts to feeling safe and connected. It governs what we let ourselves have and what we reject or deny ourselves.
One’s sense of worth gives birth to three core features of Self:
- Identity: Identity is a fluid, evolvable sense of “who I am”. It is often a product of past experience, feedback from others, and personal conclusions about one’s self. It directly influences how they interpret their own purpose, sovereignty, and role in the world.
- Purpose: This is the sense of meaning or “why I exist” element we often wrestle with as human beings. This governs how a person utilizes their personal power and where they invest their energy, time, and resources.
- Sovereignty: This is one’s sense of personal power, authority, and autonomy in their life. This is where a person originates their ability to act on their behalf, influence the world, and create what they desire in their lives.
Shame, guilt, and a sense of inadequacy or “not enoughness” arises as a person’s “worth” when that person has experienced a repeating cycle of abuse, neglect, and conditional love. They are deriving their worth from the external world, internalizing those events as results of “who I am”.
This leads to tolerance of abusive and harmful behaviors and relationships from others and themselves. It leads to chasing love, seeking the approval of others in order to feel a sense of value, and using people-pleasing, perfectionism, and productivity to shore up their worth.
This creates a cycle of repeating deep emptiness, loneliness, pain, and burn out.
It is not sustainable because one’s worth is built on a lie.
What is this lie?
That your worth can be determined, judged, or measured.
It is my argument that our worth cannot be measured, judged, earned, or determined.
Early on in my own healing, I faced this question of why my worth kept fluctuating. I noticed it changed based on conditions. Conditions are anything we believe can add to or take away from our worth. This included people’s level of approval of me, my successes or failures, my living circumstances, and sometimes even what I ate that day.
So, I asked myself a question: “What if my worth didn’t depend on any conditions – ever?”
Naturally, I laughed at such an idea. It made no sense to my model of love at that time.
How could I actually have worth without any condition (and still be loved by others, valued by others, and be myself)?
But then I started to notice my body’s reaction to the question: Profound peace. Deep rest. Mind was silent.
That gave me serious pause.
I was actually feeling centered, whole, and peaceful. This was I what I was hoping to feel when I finally became worthy enough.
All my problems still existed. I hadn’t achieved the goals I thought would give it to me. I was still living in the basement bedroom I was renting in a 60 year old home.
Yet, here was this blazing sense of worth within me.
This opened me up to a new kind of worth I call, “Indomitable Worth”.
Indomitable means, “impossible to subdue or defeat. “
This is worth that cannot be defeated, subdued, or changed. It is immutable. Invulnerable. Unchangable.
This means that approval doesn’t add to it and rejection doesn’t take away from it.
This means that your worth doesn’t change according to circumstance or conditions – including your own perception of yourself.
You see, most of us assume our current sense of worth is our worth.
In reality, our sense of worth is simply what we’re currently tuned into and acknowledging in our awareness. It isn’t our real worth. It is more a result of what condition or meaning we’re focused on.
Training one’s awareness to their own Indomitable Worth is what we focus on in my work.
This means we’re not building our worth, nor are we trying to raise our self-esteem or release our blocks to our worth.
It means we are nurturing our awareness to hear this Indomitable Worth, trust it, embody it, and express it.
This is the work of learning to know, love, and be yourself.
I’ll be sharing more on how to do this in future posts. It is a delicate, deep, and profound work.
Marshall Burtcher, Codependency Healing Expert. Marshall helps codependents, people-pleasers, and perfectionists stop fixing themselves and start loving themselves. Join Marshall for his free live workshop, “The 8 Factors That Heal Codependency Permanently” happening February 22, 2023 by clicking here: https://workshop.freetheself.com