Gary Zukav
Photo: Azgar Donmaz/E+/Getty Images
What is unworthiness? It's the experience of having parts of your personality say, "I'm not worthy." For example, they might say, "I am unworthy of the love that I have in my life, or the wealth that I have." More commonly, they might say, "I am unworthy of the happiness that I feel." Thoughts such as "It's too good to be true," and "This can't last forever because it is too good" are experiences of unworthiness. You feel unworthy of what the universe has given you, you feel that you do not deserve it, that the other shoe will fall, and it is only a matter of time before you will get what you really deserve, which will be painful.

Unworthiness is the inmost frightening thought that you do not belong, no matter how much you want to belong, that you are an outsider and will always be an outsider. It is the idea that you are flawed and cannot be fixed. It is wanting to be loved and feeling unlovable, or wanting to love and feeling that you are not capable of loving. It is the feeling that no matter what you do, it is not enough and that you are incurably inadequate, intrinsically and permanently flawed. It is the fear of people seeing you as you really are and the belief that if they did, they would not want anything to do with you.

Beneath all of this is the experience of powerlessness—of feeling powerless to be a real part of life, to love, to be loved, to affect the world, to be heard, to be worth hearing or to have something worth saying. It is self-loathing, self-hatred. The pain of powerlessness is excruciating. It is the most painful experience in the earth school, and everyone shares it.

Until recently, the pain of powerlessness has driven our evolution. It has caused us to reach outward continually, relentlessly, to change the world around us. Pursuing external power—the ability to manipulate and control—has been our way of avoiding the pain of powerlessness. Anything that we do to make ourselves feel worthy and safe is a flight from the pain of powerlessness. Every pursuit of external power—every attempt to change the world or a person in order to make yourself feel valuable and safe—is a distraction from the pain of powerlessness. All the distractions in the world cannot uproot the pain of powerlessness inside you.

Our history is a chronicle of the ways that we have attempted to escape from the pain of powerlessness, or said another way, the ways that we have pursued external power. Tribes fight tribes, siblings fight siblings, nations invade nations, individuals strive to become stronger than one another, or more seductive, educated, wealthy or famous. The list is as long as it is familiar.

The pursuit of external power surrounds us everywhere. We are continually attempting to mask the pain of powerlessness from ourselves, and others are continually doing the same. Driving every avaricious banker, sexual predator, workaholic, perfectionist and all attempts to exploit anything or anyone is fear of the pain of powerlessness and the need to escape it.

Our perception is now expanding beyond the five senses. We are becoming able to see the pursuit of external power for what it is and the futility of trying to escape the pain of powerlessness by changing the world. When we look inward, not outward, we can dismantle the parts of our personalities that have controlled us for so long—such as anger, jealousy, vindictiveness, superiority, inferiority. We realize we need to change ourselves instead of the world in order to liberate ourselves once and for always from the tormenting experiences of unworthiness.

Next: Choosing to act with patience
Spiritual partners help one another recognize when a frightened part of the personality is active. They can alert you when you're striving to mask the pain of powerless, for example, by becoming angry, jealous or a victim. When you are not aware that a frightened part of your personality is active, you forget that all is perfect. You forget to relax and enjoy yourself. You become serious, concerned and overwhelmed. But if you were able to say, "I am doing it again! A part of my personality is feeling like the most unworthy person in the universe," then you could all laugh at this.

The pain of powerlessness is still driving our evolution, but in a different way. Instead of reaching outward to change the world in order to avoid it, we must look inward to experience it, to change ourselves, to create authentic power, and act on the healthiest parts our personality that we can access in the moment. For example, we choose to act with patience when we are angry, or to act with appreciation when we are judging.

This is a very big change. It is a change in the way that humanity is evolving. Our evolution now requires us to experience consciously all the painful impulses that have created all the painful consequences in our lives and then choose consciously to act instead from the healthiest, most wholesome parts of our personalities that we can access in the moment.

Each time we do this, we create authentic power. When we create authentic power again and again, we become authentically powerful. Each experience of unworthiness reminds us, if we let it, that now is the time to create authentic power.

To learn more about worthiness, visit and read The Seat of the Soul. You can send questions to Gary Zukav at, and he will answer as many as he can on his website.

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