Someone asked me yesterday how a person ever knows when they are enough. I thought I would use this post to try and tease out a more thorough answer.
This much I think I know. I know that for a long period of my earlier life I did not think I was enough. I thought I wasn’t smart enough, rich enough, pretty enough, thin enough, and probably a whole host of other things, had I thought about them for very long. How did I know this? Because there was always someone around me who appeared to be enough and I was different than them.
Today I’m still different than people around me in a variety of ways. That much hasn’t changed. But what has changed, is both how I interpret and measure others and myself. In fact, the gap itself is no longer the measure of anything except difference.
When a person is pretty, they simply are pretty. It doesn’t make them better or more, it just means they are pretty. Being more pretty is not a measure of their enoughness, or mine. Even if they are extremely pretty.
But to disassemble a system of measurement, something else has to take its place. I think the new system is based on truth, acceptance and having a much wider lens than I previously used. Let me try and take these one at a time.
Truth: So often I deluded myself into thinking that acquiring something, be it a physical item like clothing, or less tangible like an achievement would afford me a sense of completion and grant me permission to whatever status group I wanted membership. Of course every acquisition only left me more depleted and feeling still more illegitimate. So truth means to see symbols for what they are and to not chase them at the cost of authentic self- development. Truth also means to search inward to determine whether or not I have truly put forth an honest effort with pure motives. If I have, it is enough.
A wider lens: Maturity is largely responsible for adding this tool into my toolbox. Like many people I too was prone to what I call snap shot thinking. I only saw life in small snippets, a moment in time. When I see a beautiful person and think their life is beautiful based on that moment in time, I am severely limiting my view point. I don’t know if that same individual has financial, emotional, spiritual, physical or relationship challenges. I don’t know how much effort went in to achieving that beauty and at what cost. In fact I know nothing about the person. But if I give them a winning score and compare myself to that winning score, I am not enough.
To widen the lens does not mean to find fault with the other person. It means to find humanness within both that, other individual (or circumstance) and my own. Otherwise, it’s like measuring two things, one with English and the other with metric. They won’t match. Widening the lens also means for me, to include faith in something much greater than the constraints of this world and my own humanness. The dilemma with relying only on this world is that it is all so fragile and fleeting
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. It’s truly like building a castle in the sand knowing the tide’s arrival is but a few short hours away. It is easier to see one as enough when you strip away the layers of triviality and build on something wider.
Finally there is acceptance. To accept that I am enough is an active act of willingness. It is a willingness to ACT. It means to live with that knowledge and to make choices accordingly. If I am enough, then it means to live as if that is true. It means to no longer invest all of my energy into the pursuit of what I think will make me more. It means to speak more kindly of myself and to not withhold rewards until I reach some higher earned level of wholeness. And it means to not hold back my efforts with the excuse that they are not important or won’t matter. They matter.
This is personal and based on my path. And please let me be clear that I have no illusion that this is a static and fixed level, but is rather, a work in progress that I need to frequently remind myself about. I hope there is something useful for you to take while developing your own sense of enoughness.