“You are enough”.
It’s a simple enough statement but for many of us, it bears no ring of truth. It always feels like there is more to do, more to become, more to achieve, and more to improve upon before we will feel ok about ourselves.
The reality of feeling that we are not doing enough, being enough, or have enough is that we are engaged in a constant struggle to improve upon who or what we are, pushing ourselves to burnout, moulding ourselves to fit others’ expectations, working harder to prove our worth, and perhaps even attempting to compensate with our outward appearance for what we feel we are intrinsically lacking. If we can just look like we have it all together maybe nobody will realise how flawed we really are.
The truth is that happiness is not found in doing or being more, but in finally learning to be at peace with who you are right now. This doesn’t mean that your efforts to improve yourself should stop; indeed, there is great satisfaction to be found in striving towards meaningful goals. But it does mean that your sense of self-worth should no longer be measured by any external metric – not your body shape, your income level, your spiritual practice, parenting expertise, or how clean your floors are. It also means being completely comfortable with your lifestyle choices, opinions, personality traits, and your perceived flaws.
There is a Buddhist saying I love which is, “Beware the subtle aggression of self-improvement.” In other words, be careful that your striving towards goals is not driven by a core belief that you are inherently unworthy of love or happiness just as you are right now.
If self-acceptance is difficult for you, trust me – you are not alone! But if there is any goal worth striving towards it is to increase your capacity to love and approve of yourself exactly as you are right now.
Here are a few suggestions that might help you to slowly let go of the idea that you need to be better and accept that are whole and worthy just as you are:
- Catch yourself every time you notice you are placing conditions on your approval of yourself. Beware thoughts like “If I could just fix X problem, I’d feel really great about myself” or “When I finally master Y, I’ll be happy.” Also notice how frequently you shy away from expressing a different opinion to others’ or try to mould yourself to fit in with a crowd. Simply notice. The act of increasing your own awareness of the subtle ways you communicate messages of disapproval to yourself is the first step towards letting those ideas go.
- Forgive yourself. Maybe use a journal or write a letter to yourself forgiving yourself for past mistakes or current shortcomings. Express to yourself the unconditional positive regard you would to a child or loved one. Acknowledge and validate your strengths and your positive intentions even if you have occasionally made poor choices. Let it go.
- Take a self-discovery tour. Perhaps take a strengths test online, survey your friends about what they perceive your best and worst qualities are (remember they love you anyway!) or study your personal horoscope. Dig deep into what makes you tick and start to embrace the uniqueness that is you. The more you own your particular quirks and character traits, the more you can feel free to show up in life as the real, authentic you – and therein lies true happiness.
This article was first published inside the member community at www.tiffxo.com