Think back to your childhood—you probably had that effervescent exuberance and joy, not at all questioning who you were, but spontaneously living in the authenticity of you. Over the years, though, you started to restrict this unabashed way of expressing yourself.
Maybe your parents censored you; your teachers reprimanded and criticized; young love went awry; your classmates might have bullied you. When this happens, you start to lose the connection to your inherent goodness. You lose your sense of safety in the world, and you judge your value as a human being. You think to yourself, "If these things are happening to me, then I must be bad and not deserving of good things." So you form a crust around your goodness and the world becomes harsh.
You start to chase happiness in accomplishments, in looking for love, possessions, and material success, but happiness can still elude you because you might be missing the golden thread that weaves together the goodness in your life. When we lose our sense of goodness, we lose our sense of self-worth, and life feels futile. But when we know our goodness, every little thing in life has meaning and we are filled with happiness.
For me, a lot of my self-doubts came from my parents' separation. I was suffering watching my parents suffer, and that caused me a lot of unhappiness. Because things looked bad, life was lacking goodness, and this made me question my own goodness. My joy was dimmed, my unhappiness escalated, and this affected my life.
So I looked for happiness elsewhere since I couldn't find it in myself: my acting career, men, recognition for my work. When these things didn't bring me happiness, I had to return to myself. What helped me to rediscover my goodness was doing the inner work and letting go of the unhappy imprints of my story. There were a lot of layers to get past, many of which I worked through in writing my memoir Unbinding the Heart. I rediscovered deeper parts of my goodness, joy, and forgiveness, and that allowed me to assist others along their journey of self-discovery. That brought me a lot of happiness. When you rediscover your goodness, it flows out and spills over to every aspect of your life, enriching other people's lives.