Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Usefulness Vs. Uselessness

(This article originally appeared Monday, February 13, 2006 in the WLLC blog.)

I am not entirely sure where I am going with this thought, but it occurred to me while I was in a vulnerable space and it just hung onto my brain cells. The way it hit me was that many folks at times feel themselves to be “useless.” They may feel that way because they feel unappreciated, underutilized or simply out of step with whatever is going on in their lives at the time. It is a decidedly different feeling than one of usefulness, where you do feel appreciated and participatory in what is going on.

What I have come to realize is that both feelings are self-generated. They are not externally imposed upon us, even if we are awakened to those feelings by something someone has said or done “to” us. Each of us has a choice in the way we respond to situations and conditions in our lives. Too often, however, we feel put upon. We simply will not rise above feelings of uselessness or unworthiness as long as we place the control over those emotions in the hands of someone else.

It is difficult to face ourselves realistically at times. We may fear that to admit to a lack of understanding about an issue, or a difference of opinion will somehow make us a lesser person in the eyes of someone whose opinion we value. So, we begin to think that maybe, just maybe, we aren’t as up to snuff as we thought we were. This pattern of thought, if maintained, inevitably leads us to despair and self-deprecation—uselessness.

The truth is we are not useless. We are spiritual beings. We do have a purpose and we can discover that purpose and bring it into fruition. Take back the reigns that control the direction of your life. Recognize your positive traits and skills. Recognize your vision, your faith. When you begin this positive journey, you will feel support from all directions. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you as well.

Follow up: September 19, 2007

When I reviewed some of my past writings and came to the one above, I realized how appropriate it is to my current situation. The first thing I realized was that it shows that once we overcome some issue in our lives, or come to understand it better, we are not necessarily finished with it. Sometimes the same or very similar issues arise that remind us we still have work to do.

Such was the case for me when I recently met with my counselor. I was confronted with the realization that I had allowed myself to express a preemptive “dig” at someone in order to put up a “protective” shield against being hurt again by the person with whom I had been experiencing frustration and helplessness (a type of uselessness!).

This is an example of how we can let our fears lead us into actions that only exacerbate the original problem. Such fears seem so real to us that we actually believe we are unloved and undeserving of being valued as a person. When we feel that way, we try to “protect” ourselves from hurt through any means available. This is how we self-generate the feelings of uselessness.

No matter how much we think another person may feel we are undeserving, we must regain the true image of ourselves. Sometimes it may take the support of a friend or family member, or a counselor for us to remember we are spiritual beings. Our purpose is to express the highest and best that is within us; the love, understanding and forgiveness—of self and others—of which we are capable. The power of our spiritual self never leaves us, though we may, for a time, neglect it and fail to acknowledge it. It is like a darkened room suddenly exposed by the turning on of the light switch. Now everything that was already there is revealed. Our willingness to believe in ourselves is the switch that illumines our soul revealing our spiritual power and strength. I am reaching for that switch right now!

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