Self-Worth in Times of the Corona virus

So, here we are:  grounded, all of us.  No more events to attend, no more meetings held, no more travel outside the country, the list goes on and on.

Having been around the sun a few times, I have also learned that every situation, no matter how bad it appears at first sight, always has its upsides.  Therefore, on day One of Belgium’s lockdown, I started making a long list of all the things I will be able to do, now that I have all this time on my hands.  I came up with a list of 15 magnificent items, all of which I will be terribly proud of having accomplished.

And then, there it was:  Total lethargy, and even paralysis.  I was reminded of the days following the Brussels attacks in 2016.  Same thing.  I was unable to move, think straight, let alone jump into any kind of action for nearly a week.

And again, here I am.  The way I tackled my splendid to-do list was by going to the store to get a few pads of butter (we already had two in the fridge), by buying a big fat newspaper that I surely will be able to read and catch up on important information that will make me terribly smart, and—by sitting down and playing mindless solitaire and sudoku (using the hint function more often than ever before). 

And here it was again:  that feeling of being a total loser.  Now I have this wonderful opportunity to finally get cracking on some important items, and all I can do is to be catatonic in the face of this crisis. My sense of self-worth was severely tested. 

Well, luckily, as soon as I arrived at the bottom of this devastating feeling, I was able to catch myself.  Tara Brach’s wonderful quote came to mind:  “The revolutionary act of treating ourselves tenderly can undo the averse messages of a lifetime.”

It made me wonder where all these loser feelings came from?  Could it be that I was taught from an early life on that we need to make every minute of our lives count?  That to get ahead, we need to be constantly mindfully and gainfully employed?  To waste time on frivolous things, such as binge gaming (alone no less) is a sin?! (Yes, I was raised Catholic, but the religion of Capitalism seems to have the same creed—except those who make the games).

Then I took a step back and reminded myself of what I have also learned over the past months:  our self-worth is NOT contingent on what we accomplish, how we appear in the eyes of others, how cracker jack we are in our relationships, etc., etc.  you fill in the blanks.

Giving myself permission to hang loose, to do absolutely nothing, to skip the shower today (nobody will see me anyway) and to indulge in mindless activities for a while is the ultimate act of treating myself tenderly.  Strengthened and nourished by this embrace of self-compassion, I know I will eventually jump into action again—based on reflections on who I really am—before I was told who I was supposed to be.

How is your sense of self-worth showing up for you today?  Would love to hear from you!