Self-worth and sapphires...
Updated: Jan 6
Why some things are worth growing for.
Lately I've become obsessed with this idea of the hero/heroine's journey. The basic concept is that in order to grow and evolve, we must venture out of our cosy zones on a quest to overcome challenges, heal our wounds and find union with ourselves. We then return, and share the wisdom from our adventure with others. This is how I think about my engagement sapphire. What began as a yearning for validation, bling, and approval from another... ultimately led to me being loved, approved of, and validated by myself.
It all seemed so simple and straight-forward for everybody else. Girl meets boy. Boy falls madly in love with girl. Dating, laughing, holidays, unicorns, rainbows. Flash forward to the not so distant future... Boy proposes to girl with a bedazzling jeweled ring, and everyone lives happily ever after. The end. Or that's how it looked as an outsider peering in. Hollywood, my circle of friends... that's all I saw to be true. I didn't have a model of anyone living off the grid. This is what I thought success in love looked like. Being chosen.
I didn't have a boy, but instead a Man. A handsome, well travelled and stoic Man... who inconveniently came with some very Scandinavian ideas about domestic relationships sans marriage! Sambo, what? You can say this created some "dramatic tension" with my then conservative beliefs about the order of certain life events and"how things should be." In the end, the Universe decided for us - and sent us Roman. Thank goodness it did. That was the beginning for me of a new way of seeing and being, and the catalyst for my growing up for real.
We were living in the south of Spain at the time, and life was good. Sunshine, cobbletsones, churros, and an old town apartment with geraniums on the balcony. We were both sad to leave Malaga, but in the end, it felt right to come home, nest and start our little family. We decided to stay focused on the baby, not the bling. Sensible.
Even then, knowing this man was committed to me for life, sharing a son together, being a family... I still longed for the stamp of approval to tell the world (and myself) that I was enough. Without it, I felt like an uninvited guest at a party... awkward.
In truth there was (and is) a ring. A beautiful cornflower blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by diamonds. More beautiful than I ever imagined. But here's the thing... it stayed in the box for 2 years before the official proposal. I KNOW. Do you know how long that feels to someone who is frothing at the mouth for external validation and approval?! I laugh about it now... but that was a seriously difficult thing to get my head and heart around. I would find myself enraged and upset when hearing of others engagements, and think to myself... "what is wrong with me?!" I was in total victim-hood, and driving myself crazy. What seemed so easy to come by for everybody else, was still eluding me.
It took me a long time to figure out that what I was lacking was not a rock on my finger, but my own self-love and approval. The belief that I was already worthy, whole and complete.
Like others before us, we found that new parenthood was not exactly the most romantic stage of our relationship. Fatigue, erratic hormones, adjusting to change, and differing parenting styles all contributed to one thing... conflict! The hardest part was knowing that the bling was somewhere close-by (suitcase/backpack/picnic basket/sock drawer?!) and not on my finger. Beyond my control and VERY ANNOYING. I remember a particularly hilarious incident while man was on a business trip in Brazil... where I found the ring (after ransacking the apartment) - and got it firmly stuck on my finger. As if I didn't feel tragic enough already, I now had to find a jeweller that would cut it off and solder it back together in the same day. Luckily, I managed to return it to it's secret hiding spot before Man returned home. Heart palpitations!
It was while on holiday in Thailand that I decided I needed to change the way I was seeing the engagement, for my sanity's sake. I was ready to take back my power I had given away, and find peace in a situation that had caused me enough suffering.
1) I am enough
2) sometimes the easiest and simplest way to get what you want most... is to surrender it.
So that's exactly what I did. On the last day of our holiday, with an ache in my heart about returning home again with no ring on my finger, I took an age old healing remedy... a walk. I went to the beach by myself - I sat down under a banyan tree, drew a love-heart around me in the sand, and shed all the tears that I needed to release. There were many. I decided then and there that I would start loving myself, and ring or no ring DAMN IT, I had a blessed and wonderful life.
I chose to be grateful for what I did have. I had a big and little man that loved me, and many many things that made my life amazing. I understood that I was already worthy of great love, especially my own, and didn't need to do or change anything about myself to earn it. So cathartic. I felt lighter, unburdened, and finally at peace with myself.
I returned to my guys, with a heart free of expectation, and committed to enjoying every moment of our last evening together.
I've found that once you surrender your attachment to the outcome... things can manifest in rapid timing. That same night, on a sunset beach in Krabi, sitting in a washed up longtail boat with Roman between us... man proposed. It was beautiful. All the more so - because I had finally come to the point of loving and being at peace with myself. I have great respect and admiration for the man that allowed me to heal and evolve in my own time. Infusing our couple with this new-found steadiness and self-confidence continues to help us grow closer. I see this beautiful sapphire as a symbol of man's enduring love for me, but also as a touchstone for my own self-worth. A reminder that I always was and will be whole, complete and worthy of great love. We all are.
I wanted to share this story, because I feel at some level many of us have experienced the discomfort that comes from connecting our self worth to attaining or maintaining something outside of us. A job, a business, a partner, a better body, a ring, a baby, a house. You know what it is/has been for you.
If I can share any wisdom from my own journey it's this... don't wait for anyone or anything to tell you that you're enough. You are. Fill yourself up with love, so that any extra received is a bonus. And if something seems too hard or heavy for you to handle... surrender it. Let it go. See what happens.
Tools for cultivating self-worth
There is a growing base of scientific evidence to show that gratitude makes us happier and healthier. There is a clear connection between the thoughts we think, and the state of our physical, mental and emotional well-being. What we focus on expands. When we choose to focus our attention on things in our life we are grateful for, we see ourselves as worthy recipients of goodness - strengthening our feeling of self-worth.
A simple way to start a daily gratitude practice is to commit to noting down 3 things that you are grateful for every day. It's good to keep the time of day consistent, say after you have brushed your teeth at night, and set yourself a challenge to be consistent for 40 days. The aim is to start training the brain to look for the positives, and acknowledge the blessings already present.
Focus on your strengths
Another way to grow our feeling of worthiness is by acknowledging the parts of ourselves that we do like and admire - our strengths. Actively seeking to admire your best qualities and strengths, and express them in daily life is a great way to cultivate self-confidence and self-worth. The field of positive psychology stands behind this theory, and there is a great free online survey developed by Dr Martin Seligman (the father of positive psychology and the concept of flourishing) to determine your character strengths. I loved finding out what mine are, and definitely feel most fulfilled when expressing them.
Remember your source
Meditation, prayer, solitude and contemplation, surfing, dancing, making art... Whatever it is that makes you feel at home, at ease and most connected to the creative force of life, can be a wonderful way to remember your worth. Tara Brach is one of my favourite meditation teachers, and I love the simplicity of this particular 12 minute meditation. Becoming present to the life-force within and around us, helps us to feel a part of something greater than ourselves. You are like that from which you came - the source of all creation. Beyond words and understanding, it is the origin of all things. By befriending this benevolent force, we align ourselves with it's mighty power. How can you doubt your value and magnificence, when as Rumi says...
“The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.”
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