I lost myself again last week. Something happened that triggered me off into shame, but it slipped under the radar and I hadn’t realised it at the time. I just became agitated and restless. The following morning I woke up with a slight knot in my stomach - a low level, undefined anxiety was brewing…so I ignored it of course. Instead, I just got real busy making lists, speeding up and doing more ‘stuff’. I could feel myself revving up and feeling agitated again. After a few hours of being uncomfortable I (reluctantly) stopped. What IS this?
So I went inside (unsupervised, which is always risky!), and after a while I could see Radio Gaga had returned to the airwaves. My seeking brain loved to remind me — of course, I’m not enough! Ahhh, it’s been a while. For most of us, this station is much like radio 4, quietly playing in the background, seemingly harmless - disguising itself as a helpful coach, but really it’s a shaming inner critic who never misses an opportunity to let us know all the ways we aren’t measuring up.
Here’s my current laundry list of why I’m not enough
• I’m not showing up enough for my mum
• When I’m at work, I’m not working enough
• When I’m at home, I’m not at home enough
• I haven’t finished that never ending list
• My teaching isn’t growing enough
• My morning practice isn’t long enough
• I’m not doing enough to help people who are struggling
• I’m not making a big enough difference in our hurting world
• I should spend more time gardening
• I don’t eat all organic
• I should shave my legs more often
• I don’t tell my brothers and friends I love them enough
• I should stop watching The Muppets
And on and on. So much pushing, so many mores. When I think of that list, it’s hard for me to get behind the “I am enough” statement. Those are the rough days. Those are the days I can’t shake off the fog. Those are the days I start doubting my path and myself.
You’d think I’d have learned by now, eh? But here’s the thing. Right from the get-go we’re trained to believe we’re not enough - that if we’re just a little smarter, prettier, have the right grades, say the right things, have the right friends, wear the right clothes, have the right skin, height, shape – THEN, we’ll be enough. And that doesn’t change as we grow up. Check out all of the advertisements that tell us even our Christmas isn’t enough unless we’re sitting around the table with amazing food, perfect gifts and everyone is in a BRILLIANT mood, all day! It’s crazy and it’s insatiable!
So when IS it enough? When are WE enough? I believe the key to knowing this is to give voice to our deeper values. I sat down and looked at every role I ‘play’ in my life – wife, teacher, employer, sister, daughter…, and I gave voice to the expectations I have of myself and what I saw was perfectionism, it was exhausting. We (I) can be so hard on ourselves. We all make mistakes. We all have pain, and we all struggle. None of us acts from our highest self in every moment, or in every situation.
And so I rewrote the scripts – I redefined what enough was given my circumstances, abilities, limitations, values and humanness – and I could breathe again.
Life is short and amazing, or long and painful. I’m pretty sure those are the options. And I think the key difference is how we’re talking to ourselves. If the world within us is loving, it makes it so much easier to move through the world around us. I can say for myself, I worked this out on my yoga mat. I took that loud, shaming voice and I starved it. I stopped believing in it. I stopped giving it power or credibility. And I fed a loving, kind, patient, compassionate voice. I still worked my ass off, but I did it with a smile on my face, because it feels good to be in a healthy conversation with yourself.
Wishing that for you so much, and sending you love, Deborah