This post is part 5 of 9 in the series Oprah’s 25 years of lessons learned.

On her final show, Oprah shared her greatest lessons and hopes for her viewers. In this series of posts, Paul high­lights ten lessons Oprah learned, along with his related and unre­lated thoughts and stories.

I learned from the guests on this show, no need to feel supe­rior to anybody. Because whether it’s heroin addic­tion or gambling addic­tion or shop­ping addic­tion or food addic­tion, work addic­tion, the root is all the same. The show has taught me there is a common thread that runs through all of our pain and all of our suffering, and that is unwor­thi­ness. Not feeling worthy enough to own the life you were created for. Even people who believe they deserve to be happy and have nice things often don’t feel worthy once they have them.

There is a differ­ence, you know, between thinking you deserve to be happy and knowing you are worthy of happi­ness.… We often block our own bless­ings because we don’t feel inher­ently good enough or smart enough or pretty enough or worthy enough. The show has taught me you’re worthy because you are born and because you are here. Your being here, your being alive makes worthi­ness your birthright. You alone are enough.” — Oprah Winfrey, May 25, 2011

Read the complete Oprah Show finale tran­script →

Shifts of paradigms

2005. Four learning jour­neys come together, same time, same station.

Journey 1: Observing the times I said or thought “should,” “must,” “believe,” “have to,” “right,” “wrong.” Those obser­va­tions led to a long, long wish list on an endless road to perfec­tion. Perfec­tion has never mate­ri­al­ized in 55+ years; why do I continue to seek that now?

Journey 2: The perfec­tion exer­cise coin­cided with learning about “there is no right or wrong” — a heresy if I accept my child­hood teach­ings and the coping strate­gies I use in life.

Journey 3: Finding the posi­tives from my nega­tive life expe­ri­ences, i.e. the gifts from child­hood trauma.

Journey 4: A begin­ning embrace of all aspects of my life — my shadow side, my strengths and my ho-hum. Loving “I am what I am.”

One process common in all of these jour­neys is turning “normal” on its head — trying on counter-intu­itive ideas. Do what doesn’t make sense and see what I learn. Walk through the doors I’m avoiding. Give myself quiet time when I’m creating mind­less activity. Look at my role when it’s easy to blame others. Be, rather than change.

Tara Brach, a psychol­o­gist and inter­na­tional expert on Buddhist medi­ta­tion, writes,

Carl Jung describes a para­digm shift in under­standing the spir­i­tual path: Rather than climbing up a ladder seeking perfec­tion, we are unfolding into whole­ness. We are not trying to tran­scend or vanquish the diffi­cult ener­gies that we consider “wrong” — the fear, shame, jeal­ousy, anger. This only creates a shadow that fuels our sense of defi­ciency. Rather, we are learning to turn around and embrace this life, in all its real­ness — broken, messy, vivid, alive.”

And from Donald Epstein, founder of Network Spinal Analysis,

To heal, we do not have to under­stand what went wrong in our life or who did what to us. If a person is recov­ering from a heart attack, would his recovery be enhanced by trying to figure out what we did wrong, or who did what to him? I think not. Instead, he needs to rest, including his conscious, chat­tering mind.

The fact is, we cannot know what went wrong or how we arrived at our present situ­a­tion until we expe­ri­ence it with our biology. We cannot see the forest if we are looking at a tree. Like­wise, we cannot see the benefit in a hurt or trauma from the place of our suffering. We cannot resolve any problem with the same conscious­ness that created the problem in the first place.”

When I embrace what has felt so dark, so personal, I don’t feel scared or alone. When I am no longer compelled to blame or hide or fix myself, I feel love from all of life. The learning journey continues.


Brach, Tara (2001). Awak­ening from the trance of unwor­thi­ness. Inquiring Mind, vol. 17, number 2. Down­loaded from

Epstein, Donald M. (2000). Healing myths, healing magic: Breaking the spell of old illu­sions, reclaiming our power to heal. San Rafael, CA: Amber Allen.

Fritz, Robert (1989). The path of least resis­tance: Learning to become the creative force in your own life. New York: Ballan­tine Books, a divi­sion of Random House.