Am I worthy? Am I good enough? Who do I think I am to want to be the person that somewhere within my consciousness I am called to be?

These questions – and similar ones – are asked each day by humans across the planet. I know, because I’ve counseled many people who struggle with these questions of worthiness. I know, because I’ve had the same self-doubts.

Each of us feels this internal tension – one part of us visualizing the greatest potential for our life and encouraging us to claim it and live it – another part of us looking out at the external world and judging ourselves as lacking in the abilities and skills we see in others “out there”. We are pushed to grow and pulled to stay in place.

Our Dynamic Tension

There is a natural tendency to seek the release of tension as soon as possible and return to a “relaxed state”. In the pressure we feel between growth and complacency, staying put is all too often the easier choice in relieving this tension. It’s easier to listen to the voices inside us that say we’re not worthy – and then do nothing towards living our calling – than it is to hold that tension a bit longer and dance with the energy that calls us to our higher state of evolution.

Dynamic tension between the horizontal state of being and a vertical state of being is part of the evolutionary process. Horizontally, we want to stay as we are. Vertically, we want to grow to our highest potential. This is the same tension I wrote about recently in the interplay between agency and communion. Horizontally, every aspect of life from molecules to people (and beyond) moves with intentions designed to maintain our uniqueness, individuality and personal wholeness. Vertically, the same aspects of life are driven by intentions to be in communion with others – to play in the dance connectedness, to be in relationship, to transcend on some level our individuality.

The evolutionary story is one of how every individual aspect of life was able to navigate this dynamic tension. Human beings would not have evolved to our current state without molecules, cells and simpler organisms having discovered how to properly balance the tension between wanting to be a distinct individual and giving into being part of a greater whole.

Fight or Flight? Seek a Third Way

Parker Palmer writes in his recent book, Healing the Heart of Democracy, that learning to hold such tension just a little bit longer so that a new and higher solution may emerge is an important part of the design of our democratic process. He points out that our evolutionary inclination when faced with any challenge is either “flight or fight”. Yet something within the human story has allowed us to develop methods of dealing with our differences and conflicts without withdrawing totally or resorting to violence. Palmer says that language, art, religion, education and democracy have all offered ways of staying engaged with experiencing our differences with others without resorting to fighting.

Our democratic system of government with checks and balances was designed with holding tension in mind. Our forefathers knew that we humans would always have differences of opinion but that we needed to remain engaged with one another. Fleeing or fighting was not in our collective best interest. Democracy allows us a method to deal with the tension so that we can allow greater and higher solutions to emerge. That’s not to say that we humans won’t find a way to circumvent the system by still fleeing or fighting. We flee when we fill our lives with meaningless entertainment leaving no time for civic engagement. We flee when we move to gated neighborhoods inhabited by like-minded people. We fight when we demonize individuals who believe differently or look differently from ourselves.

Palmer’s suggestions for dealing with our country’s current problems are similar to what I wrote about in my book – Be Yourself Evolving the World through Personal Empowerment. Somehow we must move beyond our sense of separation and find ways in which we are alike. Somehow we must focus upon our common nature.

Parker encourages us to develop “five habits of the heart”. These are: (1) understanding we’re all in this together; (2) developing an appreciation of  “otherness”; (3) cultivating the ability to hold tension in life-giving ways; (4) generate a sense of personal voice and agency; and, (5) strengthen our capacity to create community. His habits acknowledge our horizontal need to be an individual and our vertical need to be in communion or community with others – and the tension these competing desires bring about. Learning to progress through this tension is key to cultivating our heart and healing the current challenges our democracy faces – allowing it to serve our collective evolution.  We move away from fight or flight and find a third way, a higher way calling us.

Evolving into Worthiness

Learning to progress through this tension – between our internal desire to grow and our sense of unworthiness when comparing ourselves to the world out there – is essential for our personal evolution. Answering your calling is important! Listening to that inner voice pushing you to grow to your highest potential is essential. Fleeing or fighting your reason for being does not serve you.

Yes, there are others out there in the world you observe doing things similar to what you are called to do. Yes, it’s easy to compare yourself with others and feel inadequate or unworthy. Yes, it’s easy to flee using our story of unworthiness as an excuse not to grow.

But what if that sense of unworthiness you feel could be reframed into a realization that that sense of self judgment is simply part of that dynamic tension you are being called to hold? Can you cultivate the ability to hold that tension just a bit longer until it allows you to see a new and higher life-giving option for you?

The fact is, you – and everyone – are “worthy”. The intelligence and power of the universe that moves through those that you judge as being “greater” than you is the same intelligence and power that is available to you. There is nothing you cannot do. Your personal evolution – and through your connectedness to everything else, our collective evolution – will only allow the next stages to emerge when you learn to creatively deal with the tension created between staying where you are and transcending where you are. It’s time to transcend any unworthiness and claim your greatness!

Mark Gilbert


Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!