How to Feel Worthy When You’re Broke and in Debt

by Jacky Exton

There’s only one thing worse than being broke. Being broke AND in debt… Can you relate? Me too…

In fact, I’ll admit to being in this unfortunate predicament on more than one occasion in this colorful life of mine. If I’m honest, it didn’t feel great. At all. How could it? In a society where we are measured predominantly by our financial or commercial worth, being skint doesn’t bode well.

I recall a particular time over a decade ago when I was comfortably employed in the pharmaceutical industry. Life was easy, money flowed. It was a comfortable comfort zone. Until the unexpected happened. I was unceremoniously retrenched as a result of a company merger. I was crushed. I felt rejected. Not good enough. Yet, in spite of this, I sucked it up and immediately set about finding re-employment. Initially, I was cautiously optimistic. But pickings were few.

Sadly, my already fragile self-esteem was knocked even lower when 6 months later I found myself still unemployed. My retrenchment package was used up. My savings had dwindled to the point of near depletion, and I found myself in the horrific position of having to ask friends and family for loans. Loans which I had no idea when I would be able to repay. Or how I would repay them. Which led to further feelings of worthlessness. Hopelessness. Self-disgust.

How had this happened? It was a dark time. There’s a catch 22 angle too. It’s hard to make good impressions at job interviews when you feel about as worthy as a floor tile. That bleak (nay, VERY bleak) period did end though. These trying times always do. And I was (eventually) employed in a position far junior to what I had previously held. I was grateful. Extremely! With hindsight, it was no big surprise. After all, how can you expect anyone else to see your value when you don’t believe you have any? But that’s a topic for another day…

Many years have passed and, whereas I used to avoid thinking about that period of my life (for obvious inner-cringeworthy reasons), I now look back with interest and curiosity.

Here’s why.

As I have ventured bravely into the world of self-employment in recent years, there have been times where cash-flow has been tight. Even non-existent. It’s simply part of the entrepreneurial learning-curve. Apparently. In the early years of my coaching practice, clients were sometimes scarce. Which meant that, at times, I’ve had to pull on my big-girl panties, face my fears and ask for support.

I won’t lie. Initially, it was hard. Super-uncomfortable even. BUT I’ve noticed something. Something quite extraordinary, quite amazing. This time, asking for support felt different. Because this time I’m an expanded version of who I was back then. I’m simply not the same. I see life differently. Very differently. Gone are the feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and self-disgust.

Instead of measuring my worthiness by my bank balance, I now hold the two separate. Completely. Who I intrinsically am, and my sense of value is not up for debate. It never was. In the old days, my good old ego kept me firmly entrenched in the belief that the stuff I owned and the job I had MEANT something about me. But it doesn’t. Ever.

Because I was born innately worthy. Everyone is. There are NO exceptions.

Nobody is ever born more worthy than anyone else. It’s only social programming that creates that belief. We’re TAUGHT to see ourselves differently to others. Whether it be better or worse. If you need evidence of this, simply spend a moment watching a group of toddlers playing together. It’s inspiring.

They live completely in the moment. Curious, focused and engaged. Squabbles are often dramatic and loud, but these are quickly left behind when something new and interesting is noticed. No grudges are held. Resentment doesn’t exist. And each day presents a clean slate of fun and adventure. Each child is self-aware and confident (according to their personality). No-one feels more or less significant than the other. And why? Because they still believe they’re inherently worthy!

Ego, self-importance (or lack of it), fear and unworthiness only appear when social programming kicks in. Either through our families or the schooling system. That’s when we learn to change who we are in order to win favor with those around us. We learn that simply being ourselves isn’t good enough. And so begins the slow demise of our personal sense of value. Which doesn’t feel good at all?

So what do we do? We set about trying to please those around us to win their praise. Because that feels good – if only for a minute. We start believing that what and who we gather around us gives us significance and value.

We work in jobs we hate simply to earn an income.

To sustain our lifestyle. Which we believe means something about who we really are. Before we know it, our entire sense of self is tenuously attached to what we own, or what we do. Which is why, when we lose either, we feel worthless. Or insignificant. Like we’ve somehow failed. Simple, right?

Which brings me back to my extraordinary and amazing insight (see above). Being broke and in debt from a place of unworthiness feels completely different to being broke and in debt when we’re standing in our own intrinsic power. They’re two different frequencies. Just one feels WAY better!

Facing financial challenges when we’re standing with our feet planted firmly in our place of worthiness, is a bit like our relationship with food. Whilst we do need it to survive, having an excess is simply “nice to have”. It would make this physical experience (aka life) more comfortable.

But we wouldn’t judge ourselves as worthless if we couldn’t afford that plate of sushi. Would we? Of course not! Having (or not having) sushi means nothing about me. It’s SEPARATE from who I am. So why the negative self-talk over money (or lack of it)?

With this new perspective, we feel confident in the face of our challenges. Which means that we stay connected to our creativity. We notice new opportunities. And possible solutions we hadn’t observed before. Being cash-strapped whilst feeling confident, means that this particular circumstance becomes just another of life’s adventures.

We approach it with curiosity and interest. It becomes a detour into unknown territory worthy of exploration. Which means that the challenge to create more income becomes almost fun (note: I said ALMOST fun..). That ultimately means that our cash-flow crunch is sure to be short-lived.

Mine certainly was. I graduated from the experience a more expanded, confident and self-aware version of who I was initially. Exceptionally grateful for the experience.

Jacky Exton

about the author

Jacky Exton

As a Transformational Coach, Jacky’s in the business of CHANGING LIVES. She believes that if we can learn to see ourselves and our worlds differently, we show up differently. And that's when we create truly AWESOME realities! When she’s not coaching, you'll catch Jacky running in the mountains or devouring yet another fantasy novel.

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