07/19/2012 12:36 pm ET Updated Sep 18, 2012

A Lesson in Affection: So You Say You Want it -- But Do You Feel Worthy?

You say you want "it" -- now the question is, do you feel worthy? Whether it is a loving relationship or the house of your dreams, we can only attract and manifest what we believe we deserve.

Relationships are like mirrors; they reflect back to us aspects of ourselves. When our partner has good qualities, we sometimes put them on a pedestal of admiration, thinking, "Wow, they are so generous or smart or beautiful!" When a person has worthiness issues, they cannot see how these positive traits exist inside themselves as well. While they may be hidden deep inside them and not often expressed, they too are generous and smart and beautiful, if they would only do the work to discover it.

What is a worthiness issue? For the purpose of this discussion, it is when a person either consciously or unconsciously feels they are not deserving of love, understanding, ease, financial abundance, good health or any other of the many beneficial gifts that are available to us by virtue of being born.

I believe in a creative source that loves us, wants the best for us, sees the best in us and offers all that we could ever wish to be, do and have in this life. A quote by Indian poet Rabindranath Tagor says it perfectly: "Everything comes to us that belongs to us, if we have the capacity to receive it."

How do our feelings of worthiness impact our relationships? Since we can only receive what we have room for in our consciousness, if what we want and what we are capable of taking in are out of balance, we will continue to experience frustration and disappointment on some level of our lives.

For example, if one person's internal storage space to receive love is the size of tea cup and they have a partner whose love for them is as vast as the ocean, they will never experience the fullness of all the love their partner shares with them. When their little tea cup is filled, all the rest of that love will just spill over, and they will miss out on most of the gifts of love that are being offered.

Such a person may cry out to their partner, "But you don't love me!" and they will be convinced of the rightness of their position. Yet what is really going on, as the example just illustrated, is not at all about their partner's love for them but about their ability to receive it. As a wonderful therapist friend of mine once said, "Sometimes you have to grow new eyes to be able to see the truth of the matter!"

Therefore, if the issue is operating on an unconscious level, it will have to be brought to conscious awareness before it can be effectively dealt with. I believe we can only change what we are aware of, and we will only change what we recognize as necessary and valuable. The first cousins to feelings of unworthiness are martyrdom and blame.

Martyrs habitually overextend themselves to compensate for feelings of unworthiness; they feel they must "do it all" and "be it all" to earn the love and approval of others, even if it means compromising their physical, mental, emotional or financial wellbeing. Then, when they are exhausted and depleted from all of this extraordinary and ill-placed effort, they blame others with a "Woe is me, look at all I've done for you and I get nothing in exchange," or a "No one cares about me as much as I care about them" type of attitude.

As for blaming others for our unhappiness or disappointment, there is an old saying: "When you point a finger at someone, you have four more pointing at yourself." If you find yourself blaming others, I say that the four fingers are urging you to get to work. They are asking you to take a good, hard look at the hows and whys of your own behavior and to redirect the time and energy spent looking outside yourself at other people's shortcomings to examine yourself and to become aware of your own ingrained habits and patterns, so you can better understand how you have been unintentionally conspiring against your own happiness.

When a person is giving from a place of authentic generosity -- which is born of self-love rather than insecurity or guilt -- they feel filled with joy in their giving. Conversely, giving to others as a bartering tool for love leaves us feeling like an overdrawn bank account, and we find ourselves filled with resentment, blame and other negative energy.

When we feel worthy, we recognize our value and command on an energetic level that others know and acknowledge it too. We don't have to beg and plead and convince others to see our worth; instead, we have an air of ease about us that comes from a clear understanding and deep knowing that we are deserving of what makes us happy. People around us feel this and respond appropriately. This is not to be confused with arrogance and misguided notions of entitlement, which are often masks for feelings of unworthiness.

What are ways we can begin to address feelings of unworthiness? Here is what worked for me:

1. Pay attention to yourself. Observe your thoughts and your feelings about your life in general. If you discover or are aware of areas where you feel you are getting the "short end of the stick," so to speak, and this dynamic is happening rather consistently in your life, I say this is a good place to start. The issue may be around love or money or being respected at home or work. Whatever the case, recognize that the power to change it lies in your hands.

2. When you are ready to change, seek out a qualified therapist or other practitioner that facilitates healing or well-being for their clients. I prefer those who work with the mind, body, emotional and spiritual components of the issues at hand. In particular, I have had success with reiki (an ancient Eastern healing modality) and regression therapy (sometimes the roots of feelings of unworthiness are buried along with the memories of a past trauma).

3. On my journey to wellness, I have also found EFT (emotional freedom technique) to be surprisingly helpful in clearing out traumatic issues. It is unconventional, however, I loved the fact that I could do it in the privacy of my home. A Google or YouTube search will allow you to read about and watch video of the technique and judge for yourself if it's something you'd like to use.

4. As always, I am a huge advocate of prayer and meditation for positive change of all kinds. When approached with a sincere and reverent intention to establish peace or improve our wellbeing, we have the ability to get in touch with aspects of ourselves that yield profoundly useful insights and information to better navigate our lives. In this case, silence is truly golden.

The bottom line is we are all born worthy. As babies, our instincts tell us we have the right to everything we need: milk, a clean diaper and the gifts of touch and love. Somewhere along the way, depending on our circumstances, some of us learn to believe otherwise. What better time than now to realize (see with our real eyes) that we are worthy of our fondest dreams and better?

Listen to Akoshia's prescriptions for improved relationships, streaming live at every Saturday, when she presents her segment "Today's Lesson," at 7 p.m. EST. "A Lesson In Affection" airs live in New York City on WHCR 90.3 FM, with host Mark Lo playing the best in love songs from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. EST. Podcasts are available at

For more by Akoshia Yoba, click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.