Are you able to recognize your own patterns of feeling ‘less than?’ How do you respond or react to those feelings? What practices do you have in place to address them?
The first sign for me in recognizing that I’m not feeling like enough, is when I begin to compare myself to others. A mental cycle ensues, and an anxious desire to do something about it, sets in. If only I do this, then I will have that.
My own internal thoughts of being ‘less than,’ reflect outwardly. Mentally, I cut others down as ‘less than,’ so that I can more easily cope with my own feelings of inadequacy. Although it’s hard to admit that truth, it’s there…quietly existing within me. These feelings, are human feelings. However, these habits do nothing to accentuate my (our) true growth as humans.
Certainly, we are a competitive culture. We often view our success through quantitative tick marks. Not just in the wealth we accumulate, but also these days, through the number of viewers we gain on social media. We thrive on getting this kind of conditioned feedback. Although numbers certainly are a necessary and logical way to quantify success, it does not always lead to internal peace and contentment.
So what does?
There is a basic quality to our existence. It's the simplified quality that exists, every time we take a breath. It exists with each heartbeat.
We glimpse upon this basic quality when we experience something meaningful like the birth of a child, when we peer at a photo that evokes a simple memory of time spent in celebration with those we love the most, or when we taste a passed down family recipe we grew up with. This basic quality exists, in the simple things.
It exists when we are surprised by the beautiful sunset that we unexpectedly view from our kitchen window. It exists when we swim in the ocean, come upon a beautiful view while hiking, or when we lie in the sunshine and take in its warmth on a sunny day.
For many of us, it takes hardship or tragedy to rattle us back to remember (and honor) the simple things. We forget in our world of accumulation, to take in the enjoyment of those simple things that bring us back into our true nature. There is typically so much noise, occupying our hearts and our minds. Like a giant clap of thunder demanding our attention, tragedy rearranges our worlds in such a way…that we’re reminded of the simple things, and the simple times. For in the wake of tragedy, it’s the simple things that help us piece ourselves back together again.
For me, that tragedy happened less than a year ago when my Dad died. Within two hours in learning of his passing, I was on a plane. My world as I knew it up to that point, was turned on it's head.
After arriving to the funeral home to make decisions that I was aware I would have to make, after viewing my Dad’s lifeless body, and after weeping in the arms of family members that I had not seen in years…I sat alone in my hotel room. In the wake of making some of the most difficult decisions that I had ever made in my life, a voice quietly came over me, “You are enough.”
It dawned on me. Everything I do, in this world, occurred to me. All the efforts I (we) make, both small and large...matter. Sometimes we don't really realize that, until we experience a loss. By losing something or someone we care very much about, we are reminded of those small, even meaningless experiences. The same experiences that seem to transform into something profound when it's no longer there. With our changing perspective, comes waves of confusion and then simultaneous waves of clarity. We have to settle into that, which feels unsettled. Within that space, is an opportunity of deepening the experience of our existence.
We are reminded what it means to be alive. We are reminded that it’s about the simple things. It’s about our deeper connections to ourselves, to others, to our earth…that brings meaning into our lives.
In that connection, we our reminded that we are enough. As I now reach the year anniversary of my Dad's death, I reflect on the moment of confusion that brought about the clarity of being enough. As I've work through my own grief, I have solidified practices that remind me of the simple things, and the feelings of being enough.
For the next week, try these practices each day
I have not posted here for a long time. As I read my previous posts, I realize that my words had nothing unique to say. I was holding back because I was afraid. I was afraid of what you might think of me, and I was afraid of the commitment it would require to post here consistently.
I have since come to realize, that it is my duty to you, to be courageous enough to show my true self. If I am to post here at all, I should do it honestly and fearlessly. I should speak my truth so that I can more genuinely connect with you.
A local Portland teacher, Chris Calarco, whose yoga class I frequent, recently quoted the following:
I’m human, and I will disappoint you.
I am scared, but I believe in love.
The quote is so simple, and so powerful. It has no religious sway, no personal opinion, no recipe for conduct, no academic or scholastic philosophy…it is simply the truth behind being human. The quote has taken root in me, and I find myself sitting with it again and again.
There is no doubt that I have disappointed people in my lifetime. Although I’m not proud of this fact, I am aware that this is the simple truth behind being human. We can all recall a moment in time, when we could have made a better choice. A time when we could have been more aware of how our actions affect those around us.
As I reflect, I can see that many of my poor choices were attributed to insecurity, ignorance, confusion, pain…fear. I simply did not have the knowledge, the resources, the tools, the patience, the strength, and at times the support, to make the best decision. How vulnerable it is to admit this, but how human it is to acknowledge this too.
I have been afraid of being alone, afraid of rejection, afraid of being misunderstood, afraid of not being good enough, afraid of not being loved, afraid of making the wrong choice, afraid of failure, and afraid of what I don’t understand. As I admit these things, I am aware that I may sound weak. However, I know that this is not true. I know that I am simply experiencing what it sometimes means to be human.
So often we are afraid to even admit what scares us. We’re afraid to get real with ourselves, and with others. We might actually have to do something to make a change, which will put focus on our vulnerabilities. We might be harshly judged, and misconstrued by others if we speak our truth. Within this fear, we become stuck in the space of immobility: we do nothing, we speak nothing, and we experience nothingness.
However, if we can begin to fully see ourselves, we can begin to work on fully loving ourselves. We can stop beating ourselves up for all the ways that we’ve failed, made mistakes, and made the wrong turn…and just accept the space as it was. Forgive yourself. Let go. Move towards love.
What I have found is that by forgiving, letting go, and loving…I am more capable of doing the same for others. I disappoint less often, and I am less often disappointed. If I feel afraid, I can recognize it and embrace it. When I recognize fear in others, I am quicker to make space for it. Overall, there is more love.
I’m human, and I will disappoint you.
I am scared, but I believe in love.