Reinforcing a Different Message

Reinforcing a Different Message

The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling as if they are worthwhile.

     Fred Rogers


A sense of self-worth. It’s something we all need. It’s something our hearts crave. It’s something that most of us don’t have enough of.

We talk with people all the time who, behind the pain they share or the stories of disappointment they tell, are haunted by a feeling that they are not good enough, valid enough, or loved enough.

There’s a powerful sub-plot in the movie Dead Poets Society in which a prep school student discovers his deep love for drama and acting on stage. But his father hates that his son loves the stage and forbids him to participate in any drama productions. His father believes that the stage is too effeminate a place for his son. After years of being undervalued, under-recognized and under-appreciated for the gifts and talents he had been given, the son finally defies his father and stars in a major school production. On the night of the play, his father attends and immediately after the curtain comes down humiliates his son by dragging him away from the school in front of all his friends in anger and disdain. Later that night, the father is awakened by a gunshot. He knows what it means. He goes downstairs to find his son dead, having shot himself, in despair over his father’s inability to recognize his gifts and uniqueness.

While this story is a tragic one, ending in a violent and unnecessary death, just as tragic are the countless other stories of people who carry around the wounds of rejection, dismissal and criticism throughout their lives. If those wounds go unaddressed and unrecognized we then constantly live in a place of self-doubt and shamefulness, affecting everything we say and do. We feel unworthy and never good enough. Nothing we have to offer seems to matter. Nothing about who we are seems as if we matter. We come to loath ourselves, second-guess ourselves and begin to demean ourselves. It is a terrible cycle that we reinforce. We come to believe that we truly are of little or no value.

It’s our message, constantly, that if we come from environments in which this is an issue for us, it is then that we most need others to reinforce a different message, a better message about who we are. We believe that every one of us is born in sacred worth, that every one of us is inherently worthy of love, respect and acceptance. But somehow along the way, too many of us have that sense of worth stripped away. We strive to help others find it again, because we know how much we need it too.


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