My Worthiness Formula

In my First-Second Degree of Illumination bubble, I believe I must be WORTHY to EARN a worthwhile goal. It means that, when I see that someone has some worthwhile thing, I believe they must be deserving of it. Conversely, because I don’t have that thing, I must not be worthy of it. This sets up a worthiness competition.

Money demonstrates this principle – I assume a wealthy person deserves their wealth, which makes them worthier than me because I’m not as wealthy. Worthiness based on doing or having is at the source of debilitating stress, conflict, and unhappiness, and yet I find myself thinking in terms of value…

[Goal] Achievement = Worthiness + Investment
My [perceived] Worth = My [perceived] Achievements / [my perception of] Achievements of Others

That is, the value of a goal is directly related to my sense of personal worth and the amount of effort I’m willing to put into achieving it. The value of my personal worth is directly proportional to a comparison of the value of my own achievement to that of another. In effect, it’s a numbers game.

To achieve a goal, I believe I must invest sufficient energy in the form of intention, effort, and attention. I must feel I can or do deserve to achieve a goal before I’ll invest energy into achieving it. Then, the investment will tend to define how worthwhile the achievement is.

I may skew either side of my worthiness ratio, giving me a false sense of personal value. That is, I develop a sense of personal value based on my bubble equation, then fudge the values of my and others’ achievements to force the equation to “prove” my preconceived personal worth value. It’s a mess!

When the formula results in failure to achieve a goal, I may feel that the experience has subtracted something from my personal worth. The value I place on myself has a direct effect on the formula. This, perhaps, is the reason I feel so “deflated” when I fail to achieve a goal – my self-worth has taken a hit, lessening the likelihood of future success.

To continue to “work the formula” to achieve my goal, and to keep my self-worth at the same value, I may double down on aspects of the formula. First by increasing my efforts (“If at first you don’t succeed… work harder.”).

When increased effort fails, I may then try redefining my intention and refocusing my attention (“Okay, so I didn’t get my boss’ position after working my butt off for it. Perhaps I’m too intent on getting this one job. I see there is a managerial opening coming up soon in another company…”).

When that fails, I may choose to lower my sites or abandon the goal. This almost always results in a deflated sense of worth (“Hell, I didn’t want that job anyway!” or, “Maybe I’m just not suited for management…”). Proof of my worthlessness!

Only success benefits my sense of worthiness. Why? Because I’ve defined my self-worth in terms of achievements – usually in comparison to others. I’ve allowed competition with others to define who I am and codified it into a “formula for success” that I never question – I just accept it as truth.

How true is my equation?!

Remembering that the formula is based on achievement in comparison to others, and realizing that I cannot achieve who I am – I just am, I question the veracity of my formula. What if I am not defined by what I do – especially in comparison to what others do? Could success, rather than being defined by achievement, be innate? What if self-worth cannot be earned?

Who am I… …when I shift my perspective from the bubble to Fourth Degree of Illumination gratitude?

What if I simply “awaken” to who I am? No achievement necessary. How much effort does it take to change a perspective? Or to recognize myself? How might that shift in awareness affect my equation?

A New Formula for Success?

Now that I’m challenging the validity of my success formula, how else might my formula look?

Looking at the elements of my formula:

  • Achievement
  • Worthiness
  • Investment

Perhaps were I to place the elements into 4th Degree perspective, I’d realize that the values of achievement and investment are arbitrary – assigned by me. Worthiness is innate – a characteristic of being. In essence the entire formula is irrelevant in 4th Degree awareness because how the world and everything in it appears is a function of who I am.

Turning my goal formula upside-down, I might ask, “Who am I that is represented by my life?” Even inside my bubble, I can imagine that I am worthy simply because I showed up for 100% of my experience of life. I’ve already achieved 100% of my life as it is now. With worthiness and achievement out of the formula due to 100% fulfillment and, therefore, irrelevance, I want to know:

  • What do I want as a result of who I am? (objective)
  • How do I get what I want based on who I am? (strategy)
  • Why do I want what I want because I am who I am? (motivation)
  • Who am I now? (power)

10 Cognitive Thinking Errors

And what to do about them. Based on the work of Aaron Beck and others, in Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, David Burns outlines 10 common mistakes in thinking, which thinking errors he calls cognitive distortions.

  1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING – Also called Black and White Thinking – Thinking of things in absolute terms, like “always”, “every” or “never”. For example, if your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure. Few aspects of human behavior are so absolute. Nothing is 100%. No one is all bad, or all good, we all have grades. To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask yourself, “Has there ever been a time when it was NOT that way?” (all or nothing thinking does not allow exceptions so if even one exception can be found, it’s no longer “all” or “nothing”)
    • Ask yourself, “Never?” or “Always?” (depending upon what you are thinking)
    • Investigate the Best-Case vs Worst-Case Scenario NLP Meta program
  2. OVERGENERALIZATION – Taking isolated cases and using them to make wide generalizations. For example, you see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat: “She yelled at me. She’s always yelling at me. She must not like me.” To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Catch yourself overgeneralizing
    • Say to yourself, “Just because one event happened, does not necessarily mean I am (or you are or he/she is…[some way of being])”
    • Investigate the Big Chunk vs. Little Chunk NLP Meta program
  3. MENTAL FILTER – Focusing exclusively on certain, usually negative or upsetting, aspects of something while ignoring the rest. For example, you selectively hear the one tiny negative thing surrounded by all the HUGE POSITIVE STUFF. Often this includes being associated in negative (“I am so stupid!”), and dissociated in positive (“You have to be pretty smart to do my job”). To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Learn to look for the silver lining in every cloud
    • Count up your negatives vs your positives – for every negative event, stack up a positive against it. Make a list of both negative and positive character attributes and behaviors.
    • Investigate the Associated/Dissociated NLP Meta program – seek to be associated in positive and dissociated in negative.
  4. DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE – Continually “shooting down” positive experiences for arbitrary, ad hoc reasons. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences. The good stuff doesn’t count because the rest of your life is a miserable pile of doo-doo. “That doesn’t count because my life sucks!” To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask yourself, “So what does count then?” “In what way?”
    • Accept compliments with a simple, “Thank you.”
    • Make lists of personal strengths and accomplishments
  5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS – Assuming something negative where there is actually no evidence to support it. Two specific subtypes are also identified:
    • Mind reading – assuming the intentions of others. You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don’t bother to check it out. To beat this one, you need to let go of your need for approval – you can’t please everyone all the time. Ask yourself, “How do you know that…?” Check out “supporting” facts with an open mind.
    • Fortune telling – anticipating that things will turn out badly, you feel convinced that your prediction is an already established fact. To beat this, ask, “How do you know it will turn out in that way?” Again, check out the facts.
    • To beat this cognitive distortion:
      • When the conclusion is based on a prior cause (for example, the last time your spouse behaved in this manner s/he said it was because s/he felt angry so s/he must be angry this time, too), ask yourself, “What evidence do you have to support your notion that s/he feels…” “How did you arrive at that understanding” “What other conclusion might this evidence support?”
      • When the conclusion is based on a future consequence (“I’ll die for sure if she keeps harping on this…”) Ask yourself, “How does this conclusion serve you?” and “If you continue to think that way… [what will happen to you]?” and “Imagine 5 years from now…” (Future Pace)
  6. MAGNIFICATION & MINIMIZATION – Exaggerating negatives and understating positives. Often the positive characteristics of other people are exaggerated and negatives understated. There is one subtype of magnification/catastrophizing – focusing on the worst possible outcome, however unlikely, or thinking that a situation is unbearable or impossible when it is really just uncomfortable: “I can’t stand this.” To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask yourself, “What would happen if you did [stand this]?”
    • Ask yourself, “How specifically is [this/that/he/she] so good/too much/too many/etc. or so bad/not good enough/too little/etc.?”
    • After asking question b., ask yourself, “Compared to what/whom?”
  7. EMOTIONAL REASONING – Making decisions and arguments based on how you feel rather than objective reality. People who allow themselves to get caught up in emotional reasoning can become completely blinded to the difference between feelings and facts. To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • NLP Pattern Interrupts and new anchors are the most powerful state changers – interrupt anything negative: “X makes me mad” “How does what I do cause you to choose to feel mad?” Interrupt: “How could you believe that?”
  8. SHOULDING – (Necessity) Must, Can’t thinking. Shoulding is focusing on what you can’t control. For example, you try to enlighten another’s unconscious – they should get it. Concentrating on what you think “should” or ought to be rather than the actual situation you are faced with will simply stress you out. What you choose to do, and then do, will (to some degree, at least) change the world. What you “should” do will just make you miserable. To beat this cognitive distortion
    • Ask, “What would it feel like, look like, sound like if you could/did or could not/did not?” or, “What would happen if you did/didn’t?” or, “What prevents you from just doing it then?” or, “What rule or law says you/I SHOULD?” or, “Why should I?” or, “Could you just prefer instead?” or, “Why SHOULD I/YOU?”
    • Investigate the Match vs Mismatch NLP Meta program
  9. LABELLING and MISLABELING – Related to overgeneralization, explaining by naming. Rather than describing the specific behavior, you assign a label to someone or yourself that puts them in absolute and unalterable negative terms. This is a logic level error in that we make a logic leap from behavior/action (“he called me a name…”) to identity (“therefore, he’s a jerk”). To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask yourself, “What could be a better way of looking at this that would truly empower you/me?” or, “Is there another possible more positive meaning for this?”
    • When you recognize you are labeling or are being labeled, ask, “How specifically?” Example: “How specifically am I a jerk?” – which will evoke behaviors rather than identity.
    • Remember who you/others are in spite of behaviors: “Even though I failed the test, I’m still a worthy person.”
    • Investigate NLP Logic Levels
  10. PERSONALIZATION & BLAME – Burns calls this distortion “the mother of guilt.” Personalization occurs when you hold yourself personally responsible for an event that isn’t entirely under your control. For example, “My son is doing poorly in school. I must be a bad mother…” and “What’s that say about you as a person?” – instead of trying to pinpoint the cause of the problem so that she could be helpful to her child. When another woman’s husband beat her, she told herself, “lf only I were better in bed, he wouldn’t beat me.” Personalization leads to guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy. On the flip side of personalization is blame. Some people blame other people or their circumstances for their problems, and they overlook ways that they might be contributing to the problem: “The reason my marriage is so lousy is because my spouse is totally unreasonable.” – instead of investigating their own behavior and beliefs that can be changed. To beat this cognitive distortion:
    • Ask, “How do you know [I am to blame]?” “SAYS WHO?”
    • Ask, “Who/what else is involved in this problem?”
    • Ask yourself, “Realistically, how much of this problem is actually my responsibility?”
    • Ask, “If there was no blame involved here, what would be left for me/us to look at?”
    • Investigate the NLP Self/Others Reference Meta program

These 10 cognitive errors are all habits of thinking that are deeply ingrained. The good news is, like any habit, these patterns of thinking can be changed through awareness and practice.

John Phillips and Joseph Bennette


For a great list of logical fallacies, check out the Skeptics Guide to the Universe article about logical fallacies.

Logic Levels and Persistence

Manifestation is based on who I THINK I am.

Persistence is the act of continuing on in the face of resistance. It’s inevitable that I’ll encounter resistance to change and therefore must at times press on in spite of it. Failure to persist in the face of obstacles can lead to failure to achieve a goal.

Studies have established that when people perceive themselves as having control over the setbacks they encounter, they’re more likely to persist toward and achieve their conscious intention (goal). When a person feels they have little or no control over obstacles, they tend to give up much more readily.

This yet again verifies the neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) notion that staying within logic levels when dealing with adversity can improve the likelihood of achieving an intended outcome.

Read more Logic Levels and Persistence