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What Am I Worth?

I had an opportunity to meet 3 enterprising ladies who had started a company to talk openly about sex and sexuality. addresses a personal topic, close to everyone's heart, yet not often spoken of. As I pondered over their work, it came to mind that beyond the topic about issues around sex and sexuality, is the topic of how such matters influence our emotions, our personality and our behaviors.

In Dancing with My Shadow, I wrote about the impact of not engaging and allowing the dance with my shadow self to happen in our life. Essentially that is about being true to our self (or our many selves within us). If we continue repressing a side of us, the hidden identity festers and its effect worsens as Carl Jung points out.

As we spoke about a possible collaboration on how we can both look into the emotional aspects of the person dealing with issues of sex and sexuality, I began to realize that the common emotions that arise are about feeling self-doubt, not being good enough, stress and anxiety. As a thinker, it seems all too common that we hold such beliefs about our self identity. I would go further to say that "faking it, till we make it" is a form of repressing the self belief if someone truly has a low self confidence and love for self. Taking that a step further, I for one had struggled with this issue when at a point I was too obese to be attractive to my wife while we were physically intimate. Like many others, I resorted to diet and exercise to slim down. And I did feel good. Yet today, years later, I still hold this lingering thought: "Do I love my body?" and "Am I naturally attractive to my partner?".

So besides patchwork, what can I do about this?

I begin with a self-reminder, to be gentle with myself. In which I consciously ask myself to have empathy, to give myself a high five in the mirror. This is to say to myself it is ok not to be ok, and that I am always there for me. And here's a high five, now let's press the restart button and move on.

In our guest house there is always space for our emotions to come as they are. Unfortunately we have also been conditioned to manage our emotions, often by distracting ourselves or by ignoring and suppressing negative emotions. We judge ourselves. We are our own critic. This severely amplifies the "truth" we hold, even though that truth is far from reality. Far off into a perception of our own image, or who we ought to be, or what we need to do to become who we should be.

Unfortunately, our truths blind us from what is real. In my case just this morning. I had to struggle with consciously reminding myself not to overreact that my son was 30 minutes late for school. He had a rough night, and I gave him the extra rest. Yet my mental model was coded in this belief that timeliness is important, it creates an impression of how others view me as responsible, mature, honorable, dependable. With that impression, I am valued and I want the same for my son. There is also this belief that I have to instill rigor and discipline in his growing up years for his good, but while that is true (to me), I wonder how much of this desire stems from my own wanting to be seen as a "good" parent to his teachers, to others whom we meet?

In every opportunity, the time and space appears to ponder and contemplate on my truths. I ask myself 5 WHYs until the truth eventually sounds absurd!

So it turns out, that upon asking myself too many Whys, I came to the conclusion that because I fear being judged by others (if I am not punctual). That is because I value the opinions of others, even strangers more than I value my son's rest!

What do I desire?

Why do I value others' opinion? It really boils down to my desire to be pleasing to others or to be accepted by society i.e. to fit in. This desire to fit in or please others when I flip it around, is telling me that I want to be loved and to be accepted.

Back to the topic of sexuality and sex. The desire to be loved is a very normal and very real desire. We are miraculously constructed to want to be loved and to love. That feeling love often expresses itself as intimate connection, both physically and spiritually. Which also means to be vulnerable to others. At the height of our vulnerability, I am naked in front of someone whom I desire love from. The fear begins.

Yet the true question is what is the fear? Why do I fear? Why? Why? Why? We can keep trying this every time our mind gives us the space to ponder and reflect. But if I do not give myself adequate time to let the fear in me arise, to visit me, to wreck havoc, to get me to even start asking what is the fear? Then if I suppress the fear, distract myself, or simply ignore the fear, such questions will never occur. Our shadow lingers, festers, builds walls and defenses.

Sometimes, we become so fearful we shudder, cower in fear, we become afraid to love, to be out there, to meet someone new, to be vulnerable. Sometimes we attack! We build with pride a persona, an ego which says I am a particular type of person and I therefore need not be vulnerable, need not be loved, need not love.

Is attacking the best way to defend? It can be, until we grow weary, or we get hit too hard our walls crumble.

Fears allow us to focus on our heart's desire

What is the value of being fearful? To me it is pointing to my heart's desire and telling me that I should pay more attention. When I feel anxious or fear meeting somebody new, or when I head into a business presentation feeling nervous, my mind and body is in tandem. They are telling me that I desire to feel accepted, to feel confident because it matters to me how someone views me. I seek validation or acceptance.

Loving myself enough to accept all of me, requires accepting my desire to be loved and not rejecting that through anger, more anxiety, or to direct our energies outwards on other seemingly important matters.

It requires us to be our best friend, empathizing and caring for ourselves and being loving towards our weaknesses.

When we pay attention to love our fears, we learn what we desire, we start living a life of clarity.

Clarity and purposefulness

From a relationship perspective, having clarity of our desires. Desires point to our values and beliefs about what we need to do or who we need to be, to gain value. Desires in that sense can also help reshape our priorities in life, and to refine our internal beliefs and values system. When we align our mindsets and prioritize our actions to what we desire most, we tend to gain a clear understanding of what those actions should be and the purpose why we do them.

This draws me back to another post about allowing the muddy water to let stand. Allowing our fears to have their say, rather than repressing or distracting ourselves from facing the fears is like letter the muddy water settle down. What becomes clear is the underlying desire, which gives us meaning and purpose.

How am I valuing myself?

We started this post with my reflection about what I was worth. The real question at the end for me now, is how am I valuing myself. Am I placing the right emphasis on the right values to have? Am I superficially taking actions to fulfil surface level desires or am I looking deep at my innermost desire?

These are questions I set out to ask myself when challenges greet me. When my fears are invoked and when I am at my most vulnerable.

It is a process and a leap of faith as I do not have solutions for myself. I only know that if I don't find the answers, I don't grow. And this is the season where I decided to embark on a growth journey to discover my life mission and be purposeful in fulfilling it.

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