"I have found it important and helpful in my work to draw a clear boundary between what I call ego strength and True self worth. Ego strength is obtained externally. We were taught in this society - as in any codependent culture - to look outside to define ourselves and give us a feeling of worth. We have worth if we are better than others. We are validated in comparison to others, for being: smarter than, richer than, prettier than, more talented than, having better grades than, etc., etc. This empowers the illusion of separation and feeds the fear of not being good enough. Everyone in a codependent society has to have someone to look down upon in order to feel good about themselves."This page entitled Self-Worth - Awakening to Grace was one of the original pages I created for my first crude web site in 1998. It was composed completely of quotes from my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls. In April 2007 while writing an additional Newsletter page for my March 2007 Update, I wanted to reference an article about ego strength verses self worth and realized that the article I was thinking of was no longer available on my web site. It was an article from a series on inner child healing that I had written for Suite101 Directory - which I wrote a monthly column for from March 1999 until October 2005. On my Inner Child pages index page I wrote about the pages I added to my web site at the time I was organizing that series of articles for the e-book.
"In February 2004 as I was putting together some of my articles that had been originally published on Suite101 for an E-Book, I rediscovered some that I like a lot - which I had written in 2000 and 2001 for a series on inner child healing. I decided to add them as pages on my regular web site - and in the process of doing so decided to reorganize this page." Index page for Inner Child Healing pagesThe article I wanted to quote was not one that I added to my site as an individual page at that time because I had already included it in a chapter in my online book: Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life. There was a chapter in that body of work that is titled: Chapter 6: ego strength and self worth - and the suite101 article was a part of that chapter. In September 2005 I created a new pay to view section of my site called Dancing in Light. - and moved the last 13 chapters of that online book to the Dancing section, thus it isn't in the publicly accessible part of Joy2MeU.com any longer.
This article is a part of the e-book Inner Child Healing The Path to Empowerment, Inner Peace, and Freedom from the Past and the bound hard copy of that series of articles that I give as a hand out at my Intensive Training Day workshops. That bound copy is also available to people who make a certain level of donation / tithe to Joy2MeU, but is not otherwise available - in other words I don't sell that hard copy. (I did start selling the hard copy through the site in January 2010 - see book ordering information page.)
I am now adding that article to this page (it is not a great article, but the page itself had little on it to begin with) - and have moved the original quotes from my book to the lower part of the page. - RB 4/7/07
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The Dance of Wounded Souls
By Robert Burney
"As long as we look outside of Self - with a capital S - to find out who we are, to define ourselves and give us self-worth, we are setting ourselves up to be victims.
We were taught to look outside of ourselves - to people, places, and things; to money, property, and prestige - for fulfillment and happiness. It does not work, it is dysfunctional. We cannot fill the hole within with anything outside of Self.
You can get all the money, property, and prestige in the world, have everyone in the world adore you, but if you are not at peace within, if you don't Love and accept yourself, none of it will work to make you Truly happy.
When we look outside for self-definition and self-worth, we are giving power away and setting ourselves up to be victims. We are trained to be victims. We are taught to give our power away."
"As was stated earlier, Codependence could more accurately be called outer or external dependence. Outside influences (people, places, and things; money, property, and prestige) or external manifestations (looks, talent, intelligence) can not fill the hole within. They can distract us and make us feel better temporarily but they cannot address the core issue - they cannot fulfill us Spiritually. They can give us ego-strength but they cannot give us self-worth." - (all quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)
On the question and answer pages of my original web site someone asked me for my opinion about an article on the internet where a marriage counselor contends that the codependency movement is ruining marriages. What he wrote was so codependent that it was a perfect example of codependency.
He stated that self esteem is based on what we do. He actually stated in this article, "If I can't do anything, I'm certain I'd have no reason to have self-esteem." (A multi-part reply to this article is now the first chapter of the online book: Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Chapter 1 The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!)
This is a great example of the dysfunction of codependence. Anyone who feels they have to be productive to feel good about themselves, is set up to feel like a victim when they aren't productive. If this guy were to get sick, or when he gets old, he has no reason to feel good about himself. When someone determines their self worth by what they do, they are being codependent.
I have found it important and helpful in my work to draw a clear boundary between what I call ego strength and True self worth. Ego strength is obtained externally. We were taught in this society - as in any codependent culture - to look outside to define ourselves and give us a feeling of worth. We have worth if we are better than others. We are validated in comparison to others, for being: smarter than, richer than, prettier than, more talented than, having better grades than, etc., etc. This empowers the illusion of separation and feeds the fear of not being good enough. Everyone in a codependent society has to have someone to look down upon in order to feel good about themselves.
Ego strength is not a bad thing, just as being productive or pretty or smart are not bad things. It is just dysfunctional if we base our self worth on these external sources. All external manifestations are potentially temporary. If we base our relationship on temporary conditions we are setting ourselves up to be a victim of change, of aging, of being human. That makes such a dynamic dysfunctional in the long run.
My Spiritual belief system is based upon the belief that we are connected to everyone and everything. I believe that we are all extensions of the Great Spirit, children of God, created as a reflection of The Goddess. I believe - and as I point out in my book, it has now been scientifically proven by quantum physics - that we are all ONE energy. That we are all connected to each other, to our planet, to everything in our environment, on higher vibrational levels. The highest vibrational energy exists in a state of eternal bliss and perfect harmony - always has, always will. That highest vibration level - which I call LOVE - is our True home. We are extensions, manifestations, of what I call the Holy Mother Source Energy - experiencing an illusion of reality that exists at lower vibrational frequencies. We are here in human body going to boarding school, and are evolving back to consciousness of our True Self - are going to get to go home.
As I said in my last article (which was basically a short version of my article: The Recovery Process for inner child healing - spiritual integration), it is certainly not necessary for you to agree with my Spiritual beliefs in order to apply the inner child healing paradigm I share in these articles. It is however, very important to choose a belief for yourself that allows for the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you are inherently Lovable and worthy. It is an invaluable aid in starting to remove the toxic shame about being human from our relationship with self and life.
We learned to relate to ourselves, to life, to other people, in early childhood from people who were wounded in their childhoods. Toxic shame about being human - being imperfect, making mistakes, being emotional, being sexual, being female, etc. - has been passed down from generation to generation.
Toxic shame is the enemy. It is an enemy that we do not defeat by fighting - although it is vitally important to develop an internal defense attorney to set boundaries with the critical parent / disease voice within so that we can change our ego programming.
The way we defeat this enemy is with Love. By learning to be more loving to our self and accepting of our humanity, we can start to access our True nature and purpose, our True Self.
In my belief, who we really are is: Spiritual Beings having a human experience. It is a belief that serves me. It helps me to be more Loving to myself and have healthier relationships with others. It is a source of real Self worth that is not temporary or based on external sources. We were taught to make other people, success, external sources our Higher Powers that determine if we have worth. We were taught to worship false gods.
Recovery is a process of recognizing that we are powerless out of ego-self to control life - while at the same time learning to access all the power in the Universe through our connection to Spiritual Self. Doing the inner child healing work is the way to clear our inner channel so that we can tune into the higher vibrational emotional energy of Love. Love is the answer. Love is the key to True self worth.
"Not only were we taught to be victims of people, places, and things, we were taught to be victims of ourselves, of our own humanity. We were taught to take our ego-strength, our self-definition from external manifestations of our being.
Our bodies are not who we are - they are a part of our being in this lifetime - but they are not who we Truly are.
Looks deteriorate, talent dissipates, intelligence erodes. If we define ourselves by these external manifestations, then we will be victimized by the power we give them. We will hate ourself for being human and aging.
Looks, talent, intelligence - external manifestations of our being are gifts to be celebrated. They are temporary gifts. They are not our total being. They do not define us or dictate if we have worth.
We were taught to do it backwards. To take our self-definition and self-worth from temporary illusions outside of, or external to our beings. It does not work. It is dysfunctional.
As was stated earlier, Codependence could more accurately be called outer or external dependence. Outside influences (people, places, and things; money, property, and prestige) or external manifestations (looks, talent, intelligence) can not fill the hole within. They can distract us and make us feel better temporarily but they cannot address the core issue - they cannot fulfill us Spiritually. They can give us ego-strength but they cannot give us self-worth.
True self-worth does not come from temporary conditions. True self-worth comes from accessing the eternal Truth within, from remembering the state of Grace that is our True condition.
No one outside of you can define for you what your Truth is.
Nothing outside of you can bring you True fulfillment. You can only be fully filled by accessing the transcendent Truth that already exists within.
This Age of Healing and Joy is a time for each individual to access the Truth within. It is not a time for gurus or cults or channeled entities, or anyone else, to tell you who you are.
Outside agencies - other people, channeled entities, this book - can only remind you of what you already know on some level.
Accessing your own Truth is remembering.
It is following your own path.
It is finding your bliss.
Codependence does not work. It is dysfunctional. It is backwards.
IN - dependence is the answer.
Looking outside of ourselves for self-definition and self-worth means that we have to judge people in order to feel good about ourselves. There is no other way to do it when you look outside.
We were taught to have ego-strength through judgment - better than, prettier than, smarter than, richer than, stronger than, etc., etc.
In a Codependent society everyone has to have someone to look down on in order to feel positive about him/herself. This is the root of all bigotry, racism, sexism, and prejudice in the world.
True self-worth does not come from looking down on anyone or anything. True self-worth comes from awakening to our connection to everyone and everything.
The Truth is that we are like snowflakes: Each individual is unique and different and special and we are all made from the same thing. We are all cut from the same cloth. We are all part of the Eternal ONENESS that is the Great Spirit.
When we start looking within and celebrating the Truth of who we Truly are, then we can celebrate our unique differences instead of judging them out of fear."
"All civilizations are dysfunctional to varying degrees, as are subcultures within those civilizations. They just have different flavors of dysfunction, of imbalance.
As an example: In much of Asia the individual is discounted for the good of the whole - whether that be family or corporation or country. The individual takes his or her self-definition from the larger system. That is just as out of balance and dysfunctional as the Western Civilization manifestation of glorifying the individual to the detriment of the whole. It is just a different variety of dysfunction.
The goal of this dance of Recovery is integration and balance. That means celebrating being a tree while also glorying in being a part of the forest. Recovery is a process of becoming conscious of our individual wholeness and our ONENESS with all."
Self-Worth - ego strength verses
True self worth was originally published online as Inner Child
Healing - Part 15 - True Self Worth in June 2001 on my Inner Child / Codependency
Recovery topic page on the Suite101.com Directory.