The Cage Door

Alright, time to really get in that heart of yours and do the tough work many of us are avoiding.  Not ready? Then stop reading and return to that comfort zone you have carefully fought to preserve. Believe me, you have been led to this exact spot today, and although we may not have met, I know you will read exactly what YOU needed to hear at this moment. For some, that ends with this sentence.

Still game? Then buckle up, because I am just going to lay it out there dripping in honesty.

In the logo our team created – a caged heart hanging from a tree - there is an unyielding edge to it. What edge? The door on that cage - have a look - it is open. Totally open.

That door, that small little row of bars hanging from tiny hinges, can feel like the most chastising little invitation you have ever been handed.

 I mean really, life is not easy. I myself have been handed (and please excuse my language here) some real shit-covered cards over the years. And there is no need to lay them out for you, because you have your own deck, and some days it is as if those cards multiply just by getting out of bed.

And our hearts? Well, no offense, but caged living becomes the norm after a while. I mean, at some point, you get used to life not quite living up to that vision you have deep in your heart. Eventually you find yourself swinging with the masses in search of that perfect pain killer to line your cage in elusive hope.

Come on, let's get real, we have all searched for the empty hope pain killer.  What was it for you? Perhaps small chalk pills in varied colors in your palm, dried plants rolled in paper, ice cubes coated in fermented liquid courage, piles of paper shopping bags...

That open door speaks with an audacity that asks us to glimpse into the idea of worth, and frankly, it is often easier to just ignore the fact that there even a thing called a door.

Self-worth. Just those two little words spliced together with a hyphen and some of us are done talking. I know the feeling.

Perhaps the conversation in your heart goes something like this: "What do you want? Do you want me to just lunge right out of this cage, fling the door wide open? Well, that is not going to happen. That thing you call happiness, true happiness, that left this station long ago. In fact, I can't really remember the last time it all worked out for this heart. So don't think that just because there is a door on this cage I call home, does that by any means suggest I could actually allow my heart to exit this pain. Maybe in my next life, but not in this one. This heart is not one of the lucky ones."

Sound familiar? Definitely has for me at times. I just turned 40 and let me tell you that I have only recently begun to try on a type of self-worth that believes that the fairytale type of magic is possible, and that maybe I am worth that magic. For more than 23 years I believed that this human, was ultimately at the core, unlovable. I had become used to things not quite adding up. And somewhere along the line I convinced myself that I was unworthy.

Now, of course, if you had just moved over the surface you would see strength. Funny thing how well we can coat that deep self-deprecation in a nice shell of work, hobbies, and even dutiful actions to those in our care. Whatever it takes to not admit we want that door wide open. We want to uncage our heart, dreams, and beliefs.

Self-worth is a difficult piece of humanity. It is amazing how the small things can eat away at us without us realizing it, and how the large things that happen to us can leave holes we think we will never fill. And over the years, I found that it is those holes, small or large, that keep us in that cage.

Now here comes the hard part. I AM WORTH MORE. Say it. No, I mean really say it. Voice those words in the way it becomes a balm soothing that heart. I know you felt that. Somewhere in there that cage door creaked. Ready for more?

Try saying it out loud. “I am worth more...”

What if you repeated that phrase throughout the day? And not just to play along, but you meant it each and every time. You have to see your heart as something that not only can heal, but is healing.

This past year I looked hard into the deepest parts of my heart. I took a look at those past wounds that were festering under bandages. And as I slowly pulled back all the layers, layers which I thought were comfort; I found this heart I had long ago put away. My self-worth was damaged, but what I had not realized was that in refusing to acknowledge my true worth, I had now built a cage.

I could never live out any of the dreams in my heart,  become the person I thought I always would be, or have the life I had imagined - magic and all - until I alone decided that I never really lost that self-worth. It was without a doubt damaged, but it was never lost. It was there all along. Did you catch that? Your self-worth never left you.

Sometimes those bandages and false comfort we think will heal our wounds can cause us to forget what was wounded in the first place. That beautiful heart that is eager to live.

I got a glimpse under those bandages, and there was simply no going back. I was living in a way that was only further wounding my self-worth. So I changed.

I changed it all: my job, my relationships, where I lived, the ideas that I would never have those dreams, and most of all the idea that I did not deserve the magic. I had believed for so long - 23 years or more - that I was so unworthy that it had infected almost every area of my life. And you know what happened when I realized that self-worth was still beautiful? Magic walked right in the door in all of those areas. No kidding, all of them!

The greatest magic has come in finally believing I am lovable, at the core. Cage door open, baby, and I am loving this thing called life!

I know it is not easy and there are still days when I forget there is a door that I can open, but what I have come to realize is that I just have to remind myself that I am worth more.

I challenge you to take those words for a walk today. Take them out for a week. Let that soil in your heart begin to take in some nutrients. And don't wait for others to hand these words out, for it will all remain hollow until you can say it to yourself.

And the magic? It will happen. Believe me, it is waiting for you too, but it will never be found in the cage. Go ahead, open that door.

"It's not that there hasn't been evidence that you are a powerful, capable, magnificently lovable and loving human being. Perhaps you simply haven't allowed yourself to fully believe it, to integrate it, to be grateful for it, to make the remarkable choice to amplify and demonstrate it with joy and mastery every day." - Brendon Burchard

Heidi Rickard is the Creative Director for The Authenticity Project, you can contact Heidi at