Friday, November 11

Existential Crises

Most days I find myself facing existential crisis. I don't use that term lightly... and I'm only writing about it because I have finally realized that my daily dose of crisis isn't all that normal. And because being vulnerable - understanding my own weakness - is an important part of thriving in life.

The seed sprouts from a mild sense of disconnection. That can come from pretty much anything - when I misinterpret communication from a friend or even a stranger, when there are delays, and pretty much any time my expectations and reality don't match perfectly.

The sense of disconnection, if it remains and my mind has a moment to think, sensitizes me to one of my personal shame triggers - the deeply set belief that I'm not worthwhile in relationships... and that people would be better off without me in their lives.

My inner persona recoils with shame when the trigger gets flipped. It begins chanting positive affirmations in the hope that one will stick: "I'm not a worthless person. I've done lots of really good things. I make a difference. People love me for who I am... right?"

But in that moment all the things I've ever done don't matter. They're all in the past. They talk about the *past* me - not the current me. And then I am suddenly engaged in a war with myself, feverishly attempting to show that my life and life's activities prove my worth.

My day-to-day flashes before my eyes, from my distant plans for the future down to the things I did just moments before.

Everything gets weighed. Everything gets judged. Does this really make a difference to the world? Does this really prove that I am good?

And if I can't explain how something in my life is essential to the wellbeing of humanity, it gets tossed to the cutting floor.

Then there's free time - pre-existent or created through the culling - and, without skipping a beat, my internal urge demands that each moment be filled with a valuable, meaningful activity that will change the fabric of the world.

If I can do it, then the crisis fades. The shame quells. And the exhausting fear of being a failure quiets into the fear of failing.

But if I come up short - if I can't identify something meaningful enough, or if I lack the resources to work on it, or sometimes without any excuse at all, the feeling escalates to true crisis. Overwhelming shame fills my soul, and I find myself wanting, wishing I could do anything to get away from myself. Sometimes I have the foresight to drug myself with endorphins at the gym. Other times I down an entire jar of peanut butter, even on a fast day. Or I try (it used to work) to drown myself in video games or movies.

Eventually, no matter what happens in my internal war, the feeling subsides. I clean up the wreckage and start my life again.

Good things come from my sorties with meaning. I find myself pushed constantly - daily even - to better understand my role in the universe and how I can play a better part. I think about how I can be a better friend, a better brother, a better father someday, and I make real plans on how to fulfill those goals.

But I am realizing that these constant daily battles are deeply rooted in fear and shame. I am afraid that I'm not enough. I'm ashamed that I'm not good enough. I'm ashamed that I'm not worthwhile as a friend, as a potential husband, as a future father, as a brother and a son. And so many of the good things I do are an attempt to prove to myself that I'm good enough.

But it doesn't work.

Because while I may be able to convince everyone else, doing great and marvelous things will never make me accept myself. A resume full of glorious accomplishments won't take away my flaws and my weaknesses. Nothing will. And only humility, and compassion, could ever allow me to accept myself for who I really am.

I don't yet believe that I am worthy of love. I don't yet believe that I am worthy of friendship or compassion or anything good at all. I've done good things. I've spent my life trying to prove my worth. Most days I'm honestly happy. I spend my hours and minutes doing amazing things and connecting with people in ways I never would have thought possible.

But sometimes I still have trouble believing in me.


  1. "only humility, and compassion, could ever allow me to accept myself for who I really am."

    Believe Christ. If He accepts you for who you are, then don't argue with Him.

    My friend taught me to just say, "Thank you" when a gift is given.

    You've given us a different window to look into through your posts, thank you for that gift.


  2. You have such great worth, and there is so much to love about you, but when we're the one inside looking out it can be hard to see anything but our own flaws. As Dennis Pragar put it, we look at a beautiful mosaic, and struggle to notice anything but the one missing tile.

    Brother, I wish I could give you a hug. I don't know if you'd enjoy it much, since I'm a girl and all, so it's probably better that I live in another state and I'll just be praying for you.

  3. Once again you have put my exact thoughts and feelings into words. I know the struggle to accept yourself with all the good and the bad and constantly trying to justify and prove your worth to others, to God and to yourself. We are always our toughest critics, after all we know ourselves better then anyone else right?


    God knows us best and the truth is, He still loves us and sees good in us. But trying to see ourselves as He does... That's the real challenge. An everyday challenge for many of us. Thanks David


  4. David! Your blog posts inspire and capture the feelings I only wish I could put into words. Thank you for writing this. I have recently been struggling to find something that works for me when these thoughts occur. We know that, at times, everything we have tried in the past can not quiet the voices saying we aren't good enough. One affirmation that has worked in the past for me is something that my dad once said "I am entitled to nothing, but am worth everything." Meaning to me that, yeah, I didn't feel worthy of anything that I received from God today, but because He loves me, I actually am worth it. I am worth the blood of His Only Begotten. And so are you. I know that deep down you know this already, but I want to thank you for allowing me the chance to share with you and the world to help me remember it for myself as well. Thanks again for your inspiring blog. You are a light in the darkness. And it gives me hope hearing your story and knowing that I am not alone in my struggles. You. Are. Amazing.


Comment Rules:

(G)MG is how I write to you. Commenting is one way to write to me.

If you want your comment published: No swearing, graphic content, name-calling of any kind, or outbound links to anything but official Church sites.

In addition, comments must be 100% relevant, funny, uplifting, helpful, friendly... well-written, concise, and true. Disparaging comments often don't meet those standards. Comments on (G)MG are personal notes to me, not part of a comment war. You are not entitled to have your ideas hosted on my personal blog. There are a zillion places for that, and only one (G)MG.

And I'd suggest writing your comment in Word and pasting it. That way Blogger won't eat it if it's over the word limit.