Love, Shame, and Self-Worth
Clearly Jeanne desperately wants her husband to say “I love you” at times, yet she forces herself not to ask. She therefore pushes herself further into self-doubt, by forbidding herself to ask for what she wants.
This self-denial is a result of shame, an emotion closely connected to deservedness. You need to realize that asking to be loved is not only not shameful, it’s exactly what one should do to get love. Shame tells us that love is a small, precious commodity that we have to beg for. But love is abundant, and asking for it only reflects that you already perceive it to be yours.
Whenever Alan says that he loves her, Jeanne also needs to trust his assurance, and if this proves difficult, she should resist the temptation to ask for more reassurance on the spot – it will be more productive to work on how she can learn to trust.
Here the story comes to a parting between psychology and spirituality. In psychological terms Jeanne’s lack of self-worth is abound up in dark memories from her past. As a small girl she was imprinted with experiences that told her she wasn’t good enough – we all have similarly painful memories. Years later these were transferred to looks, age, and sexual desirability.
Jeanne would never accept herself as long as she was attracted to men who she believed were more desirable that she, because any comparison would put her in the shade. Being with Alan was a “solution” born out of past conditioning that had to fall away.
“I think it’s a good idea for you to work through personal issues,” I told Jeanne, “but lasting a solution to whether you are deserving or not will only come spiritually.
The spiritual answer to any problem is immediate. It’s our own perception that is slow to catch on. God’s ability to love us is limited only by our ability to receive that love here and now.
Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).