I Am Abundantly Valuable: Prayers of Resilience in a Capitalistic Existence
I have been unpacking a core limiting belief throughout my growing as an artist, that “I am not good enough.” And that belief has tied in deeply to my ability to truly envision and manifest abundant exchange for what I create in the world.
This is a Spiritual Wound that has been passed down through the generations of my people’s colonized existence. It is a part of the ancestral burden that they never knew would be carried on by their descendants; a belief that was planted in my heart by my parents, and by theirs before them, and their parent’s parents and further back yet, as my family has had at least 5 generations here in the US - the center of capitalistic, patriarchal, white supremacist governance. And before that, generations of our lineage were inflicted with wounds from countless colonizers who fed beliefs of inferiority, of dehumanization, of diminished self- and communal worth. The more I understand this, the more I confront how these beliefs come up in my daily living and how they are driven by a misguided sense of worth and value.
I am in a moment of my life where I am confronting these beliefs more fully than ever, and I am seeing how much Money has become key to what keeps that wound existent. We can quantify worth by monetary wealth, and we do. We have set up systems and structures that support this being a truth for all of us. We allow ourselves to determine the value of a human being with ease, just by looking to the amount of money they have and their ability to consume and contribute to this time we are living in, where capitalistic Value has become so crucial to existence that it is a key determinant of survival.
So if you do not make enough money, not only are you faced with the inability to live in health and wellness, but you also are seen as devalued by society and in turn, devalued in self. As I examine this wound, this belief that “I am not good enough,” and how it is connected to capitalism and my survival, it becomes even more important that I open the wound further and see it fully for what it has been doing to my spirit. I understand the societal construction of these beliefs: how capitalism has served and continues to serve those who adhere to the constructs of division and inequality that keep a fraction of this existence in power over others and makes them in control of who benefits from natural, manmade, and human labor resources. These constructs have been created to tell me my value - that someone else has the power to mark my worth by a dollar.
And they have convinced those who love me most in my life and see me for all I am to feel they need to do the same.
My family gave me many gifts and lessons to uplift my being; they taught me to work hard, that labor would reap benefits, that the satisfaction of accomplishing, of producing, of creating what I intend to would grow me into greatness. They also taught me to find humility and humble myself through having immense gratitude for life - that even in moments of triumph and achievement, to remember that many people, many experiences, and God/the Creator contribute to my ability to succeed. They also simply believed in me - they saw the manifestation of their dreams and my own living out through my existence. You would think that this would be enough for me to thrive in this world, but what also exists within me are the more insidious beliefs that were instilled in my ancestral bloodline by a world driven by power over others, and not just the power of living fully in self.
As I have been unpacking here in this existence, power has been accepted as being tied to capital. And for those who have been taught that they have little to no power above the governing bodies that are in place, capital has been tied to survival. This is the story that I have been raised to believe: that money is the final marking of my ability to step into my greatest power, because it will assure my survival in this colonized, capitalistic existence. This is what my parents were taught as well, and so in contradiction to all the beautiful beliefs that they taught me so I can see myself as great, there were also messages laced with the need to show monetary wealth for that greatness. And because I have not been able to attain this in my 30 years of living, I have not yet reached a place of full potential in their eyes and in many moments, my own.
I hear the echoes of their concern that I have not yet “Made it” when my family says,“I don’t know why you don’t just find a better job… I don’t know what is happening to you out there, but you need to figure it out, you need to make more money, maybe you need to just look for work that is outside of your field…” By speaking their beliefs out loud in this way, I've been put in positions where I've examined my work as worthless; because I know, to them, that even with all the communities that I serve, with all the creations I have birthed and all the artistic expression that I have poured out of me, with all of the love I have given to every one of my students and colleagues and to any relationship I have built in my artistic, activist and spiritual work, it still is NOT ENOUGH, because I still do not MAKE ENOUGH MONEY to show for the work I do.
I know they mean well when they say, “You’re so smart/talented/hardworking, you can do so many other things that will pay you more… why don’t you find something else to do, there has to be someone who will pay you more for your work, you can do better…,” they are seeking to encourage me and remind me of my gifts, and they are also telling me that without the monetary exchange, I am being undervalued - I am not living in my full value.
I have pushed myself to remove my mindset from the need for that monetary recognition, because I have convinced myself that no matter how arduously I work, the type of labor I do cannot reap those rewards in this world. I have taught myself to live within the barest means, from paycheck to paycheck, without need for extraneous spending, without need for any materials, without experiences that may be luxuries - and mostly it has made me see how broken the world is because of its capitalistic structures of living. I understand that value goes deeper than monetary worth and that we have lost sight of that, as a society that has invested in the doctrine that allows us to believe that we can determine whether an individual has the worth to live the fullness of life based on their monetary wealth, that allows us to divide ourselves between the wealthy and the impoverished. We live in a world where self-worth is diminished by lack of monetary gain. And I have told myself not to accept that, that my value should not be tied to money, which is so true in principle; and yet I have suffered many times because I have refused to believe that I need money to be held as such a high determinant of my worth. How do I even begin to shift? To say, “Okay, I accept that I need and want more money, to show for my worth in what I create and labor and give to this world.” It feels almost like giving up and giving into something that I have worked so hard not to. But why?
I don’t want to tell myself the messages I have heard about adhering to the workings of capitalism that say, “that is just how things are…the world is not going to change,” and play into the idea that I need to fall in place like everyone else. I won’t make this the belief that drives the shift I am making in welcoming monetary value into my life - because it will not help to heal the ancestral wound of being “good enough” and seeing my self-worth as being abundant; because I understand how money is a construction that has replaced the need to understand fully our whole value of being. It is not the whole determinant of self value, it is not the core determinant of self value, but in this world it is part of it. I’m working on accepting this more than ever, and it's difficult, because I have worked against living with this lens that intentionally placed any value of self on money.
As I dream of a life with my partner where I can raise a family with him, where we can grow our children in a home that we call ours and can give them the opportunities to grow with enrichment of experiences and connection to life, I think of how money is necessary to do these things. And I pause and confront deeply my continued ideas of living at my barest needs and not asking for more monetary exchange, because of the twofold belief that 1: I should not buy into the capitalistic marking of value, and 2: that I would not be able to attain it anyway, because I never have before. I understand Value in a deeper way than just being determined by monetary worth, and also, I need to live. I need to survive. I need to experience this living beyond the narrative of struggle and oppression that is written with capitalistic divide. And so I am teaching myself to see all the notions of value being important for me to accept in abundance, because I am worth all of it.
Everything that I create in this world of art, expression, relationships, community, sacred space, and existence is valuable. I am valuable, by all means. All I create has abundant value. All I give in labor and service has abundant value. All I contribute with my living has abundant value. I am abundantly valuable. My value is abundant. This is the belief I am intending to live by, that will include exchange that gives monetary value to my creations, to my labors, to my contributions to this living; because although it is not the center of value and self-worth in my life, it still is a means of value in this world. I believe that I am worth all of what this world has to offer. I believe we all are.
I honor the value of my ancestors as I honor my own value, and I hope to have my children and their children’s children echo this affirmation: “I am abundantly valuable. My value is abundant.”
Jana Lynne "JL" Umipig is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and activist who seeks to elevate the narratives of Pilipina wom*n as a reflection of her own life's journey toward decolonizing, re-indigenizing and humanizing self. She is the creator of the acclaimed Movement Theatre production "The Journey of a Brown Girl" which has been noted as a "transformative human experience through the lens of the Pinay Narrative." She is a core member of The Center for Babaylan Studies, an Inner Dance facilitator, and founder of Butikaryo mga Babae, which creates sacred space for Pinay Womxn Healers seeking to learn and remember healing practice and knowledge connected to our ancestral traditions.