When Mark sat down, it was obvious that he was profoundly unhappy. I asked him what was wrong, and he described conflicts with his wife, children, and boss.
"All those things just distract you from the real cause of your unhappiness," I said.
"So what's the real cause?" he asked.
"When your wife treats you badly, for example, what message do you hear from her?"
"That she doesn't care about me."
"Right, and she probably doesn't. And many other voices tell you the same thing: your boss, your children, your parents. And why is it that all these people don't care about you?"
"I'm not sure."
"In your mind there could only be one reason they don't care about you—because you're not worth caring about. You're not worth loving. If everyone around you fails to love you, you couldn't be worth loving. You're not consciously aware of that underlying message, but you do feel it."
There was a long pause before Mark said, "I do feel worthless." A tear fell from one eye.
"From the time you were a small child, you heard the message that you were worthless—with every gesture of contempt, every expression of disappointment, every moment of irritation. You heard it thousands of times."
"Now, this is an important question: WHEN did people tell you that you were worthless?"
"I don't know."
"Think back. When you got good grades, when you did exactly what people wanted, when you were successful at work, then did people tell you that you were worthless?"
"So you only got those messages when you failed to do what other people wanted, or you got in their way, right?"
"So people tell us that we're worthless only when we're not satisfying THEM, or when we're somehow inconveniencing them. What does that tell you?"
"I'm not sure."
"Imagine that I'm starving to death—not just hungry—and you come into the room with a plate of food. What will I see?"
"Exactly. I won't see you at all. When I'm starving, I'll see only what you could do for me. What if you come into the room with a gun. What will I see?"
"Yes, because I'll be afraid of what you might do with the gun. I won't see who you really are at all."
"If I'm empty or afraid, I become utterly blind to anything but my needs—to get something or to protect myself. I can't see you—or anyone else. Blind. And that has been the condition of the people around you all your life. They've been screaming that they're empty and afraid, and they've blamed you for it. They've blamed you for not relieving their pain, even though that was never your responsibility.
All these years, you've been hearing that you were worthless, but the truth is that people were telling you simply that you were not giving them what THEY wanted, so in those moments you were worthless TO THEM. All your life you've been hearing a message about YOU—that you were worthless—when the real message people were speaking was about THEM, about their emptiness and fear and blindness."
"That's a lot to digest."
"No kidding. If you understood what I just said, though, all those past messages would disappear." I pointed to a painting on the wall of the room where we were sitting and said, "What if I could get one million blind people to parade by that painting and give me their opinion about its form, style, and color. A million people. What would those million opinions be worth?"
"Yes, nothing. Each blind person's opinion of a painting is worthless. And a million such opinions are still worthless. Clear?"
"How many times in your life have you heard the message that you were defective—that you were not worth loving? That would include every moment of disappointment, frustration, and irritation from another person."
"I couldn't count them."
"Let's make up a number. Let's say it was 50,000 times. That probably wouldn't be far off."
"So you have 50,000 'votes' that you're worthless. That's a lot."
"Yeah, it is."
"Then I come along and tell you that I know you're worth loving. How do I know that?"
"I don't know."
"From this point forward, for the rest of your life, we can PROVE that you're not worthless."
"Because I'm spending time with you and loving you right now. I don't spend time with worthless people. That proves you're worth loving. Now, to be fair, this might seem confusing to you. After all, it could look like 50,000 votes to one. So why should you believe me and throw away the 50,000 votes?"
"I was wondering that."
"What do I need from you?" I asked.
"Nothing, as far as I can tell."
"Am I afraid you'll hurt me?"
"So I'm not blinded by emptiness and fear. I can see you, not because I'm a better person than anyone else. I'm just not blind. So when I tell you that I love you and that you're worth loving, my opinion outweighs the opinions of 50,000 blind people—people who are empty and afraid. Now it's entirely up to you whether you believe blind people or if you believe the truth."
"It's kind of hard to change what I've been thinking and how I've felt all my life."
"Of course. So first you recognize that you've been believing blind people. That intellectual process helps you let go of the lies. Then you simply observe how it feels to be unconditionally loved—by me and by others. Eventually, you'll know the truth, and you'll feel loved, free, and happy."
Replace your fear and confusion with peace and happiness.
READ OR LISTEN TO: