The quest for external worthiness is exhausting. The experience of internal worthiness is exhilarating.
We often think something will or someone can make us feel better. When the system appears broken, the culture toxic, the space unwelcoming, we are uncomfortable. To feel more comfortable, we seek to change the surroundings and, when that seems impossible, change ourselves to fit in. We quiet our inner voices to create an external voice that joins in with the choir around us. We shift our appearance to more closely match that which we see outside us. We learn the language of success as we hear it spoken and speak in foreign tongues that somehow enable communication in a way ours never could.
This can work for a while, sometimes even indefinitely, but it is exhausting. Especially if we are still looking to this external environment, which we have contorted ourselves to accommodate, to tell us when we are enough, important, valued, worthy. That moment, that declaration, that medal will never arrive. This version of worthiness is a finish line we will never cross. There will always be new ways of being in the outside world that elude our capacities and entice us to seek this supposed worthiness. A mirage of completion into which we can never actually step.
The breakthrough of belonging happens not at the pinnacle of achievement, but in the quiet of our minds, when we realize that “worthy” doesn’t live in degrees, achievements, positions, or paychecks.
That worthy cannot be earned, just as it cannot be depleted. That worthy is always 100 percent, and it exists only in our thoughts about ourselves.Seeing ourselves as 100 percent worthy doesn’t make the outside world any more comfortable. It doesn’t fix the broken, purify the toxic or suddenly create hospitality in an unfriendly situation – but it can shift our comfort within. Reminding us that we are not broken, we are not obliged to the toxic thoughts of “less than,” that we can decide to feel welcome wherever we are. This is a fitting in within ourselves, and it offers both relief and freedom from the painful contortions we previously upheld to match the external setting.
Sometimes this is enough – to reclaim responsibility, and the power that accompanies, for our own experience. To be free of the shackles of the expectations of others. To know beyond a reasonable doubt that our worthiness is immutable. Alleviating pressure of performance, fear of failure, and inviting possibility in its infinite form. Knowing that our engagement in any endeavor is no longer limited by the need for a certain outcome to declare us worthy. Living from this space, we are no longer subject to the confines of the system, culture, or spaces around us.
But after a lifetime of figuring out how to be “fine” and accepting that “things are the way they are,” many are standing in their absolute worthiness and calling for change. Not out of need, but by choice. Not out of scarcity, but from abundance. Not seeking power but rightfully claiming that which has always been theirs and accepting the adjoining responsibility. Not for themselves, who have seen and known worthiness as complete, but for those who have yet to bear witness. Quieting the soundtrack that has played discordant melodies of worthiness as an elusive faction bestowed upon us by “them” and revoked at will beyond our control.
This is the call for freedom. It is free of apology, want, and need. It requires no declaration and is unattached to outcome. It seeks neither permission nor approval. It is not weak, it is not wan, and it is not wavering. It is worthiness calling to itself, and it will not be interrupted.
When we call for change from our unassailable wholeness, we are telling the broken system that no longer will we fracture ourselves in order to adapt.
When we call for change from our impervious worthiness, we are telling the toxic culture there is no longer a host for its disease.
When we call for change from our resolute value, we are telling the unwelcoming spaces they no longer have a place in our lives.
Those who have long been unseen and unheard in the practice of medicine are waking to their worthiness and finding their voices, speaking with clarity and confidence in the beautiful words of their native language. Unfolding themselves from the cramped and confined spaces, peeling back the heavy layers of accommodation and declaring welcome for all.
This reflection of immutable worthiness can be startling. It can shake the foundation of belief and understanding, especially in an external achievement-oriented profession. It need not devalue degrees, training or position, but simply free them from responsibility for providing worthiness. These neutral representatives of education, experience, and appointment may be acknowledged, celebrated, revered, or desired, but they may never apply or revoke worthy upon their beholder – this can only come from within and is always available at 100 percent.
The quest for external worthiness is exhausting. It is not sustainable. It is not necessary.
The experience of internal worthiness is exhilarating. It is infinitely renewable. It is readily available. When all see their own worthiness in its absolute totality, the magnitude of power is infinite, and the levy of responsibility equally shared by all. When we join our individual, unique, and worthy voices, the call for change rings out clearly, will not be interrupted, and cannot be denied.
Amelia Bueche, D.O. is a specialist in Neuromusculoskeletal & Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine and shares time in NW Michigan and Southern Oregon. She is a Physician Coach and Founder of This Osteopathic Life with blog, podcast, coaching and CME programs supporting the health of all things. She focuses on treatment and prevention of burnout for physicians and bringing health to the culture of medicine at all stages of education, training and practice. Dr. Bueche is an Osteopathic Health Policy Fellow, owner and coach at Inconceivable Fitness, community activist, idea catalyst, wife, mother and musician.