I Am Not Enough…And Neither Are You
I have been absent from this blog, and in many ways the life I was creating, for nearly four months now.
Sometime in June I began hearing this voice deep inside me screaming STOP! Just stop. I didn’t know what it meant, but it became louder and louder. I tried to resist it. I couldn’t. As if without my consent (at least consciously, it seemed) my life began to dismantle and I began my retreat. By the beginning of July I had let go of most of my coaching clients, stuffed my application to speak at TEDx Victoria at the bottom of a box and was seriously contemplating quitting the role I had taken on at Accomplishment Coaching, mentoring new coaches in training. By the end of July I left my temporary home in Victoria making me really and truly homeless, my romantic relationship became a question mark, and on the morning of the first Sunday in August I walked out of a room full of people that loved me dearly at Accomplishment Coaching, not to return. By the beginning of September I no longer believed I was meant to be on a mission to save the world with love, my romantic relationship had ended, I threw out the entire manuscript of my book that was with my publisher in the editing stages, I stopped writing my daily poems, and I shut myself out from Facebook, email and the world many ways.
I am not enough.
This is not a pity post. Nor is it a post about self sabotage. I am not writing this to you as a victim. I have felt deep pain and grief in the past three months it is true, but in this moment here and now I have no shame for what I am sharing with you. I do not feel disempowered. Sometimes, I am simply not enough. This is an important distinction.
I am not enough is a loaded phrase. If you say it people will get uncomfortable around you. They will try to convince you that you are. They will assume you are disempowered, beating yourself up, and crying out for love and attention. You will remind them of the voice inside themselves that says the same thing and they will wince and hope you don’t whine on too long before you get back to loving yourself like a good person would do. The entire self help industry exists to address this exact “problem”...the problem of not loving yourself enough and not believing you are good enough.
You are enough, it shouts. Love yourself. Believe in yourself. And even worse it whispers, If you don’t believe you are enough your life will be awful and you will never make the meaningful contribution you are meant to.
Everywhere you look there are inspirational messages, blog posts, courses, books and all kinds of resources offering ways that you can correct this fundamentally flawed belief that you are not enough and finally learn to love yourself fully, believe that you are enough, live your purpose, and find the internal peace and fulfillment you are looking for. I wrote many of these messages and posts on this very blog. Discover your unique gifts and passions, dream big, and believe that you are enough. I have said it myself hundreds of times.
Here is the truth: Your belief that you are not enough is not fundamentally flawed. Trying to believe that you are enough when you don't is what is flawed. Trying to believe something other than your truth in the moment is the most exhausting, infuriating and hopeless game to play. It is impossible to win, because, yes I am going to say it, sometimes you are not enough.
Let me tell you how I know this. For the past three years (and in some ways most of my life before that) I have been dedicated to finding a way to love myself more and to believe that I am enough. I told myself, if only I loved myself fully and believed I was enough, then I would be able to stop this internal war I am waging, live my purpose, and be the full expression of who I am without apology.
I have always been trying to convince myself I am enough for or worthy of something. I spent my teens trying to convince myself I was worthy of friends and approval, my university years trying to convince myself I was worthy of success and of proper nourishment for my body, and my early days as a lawyer trying to convince myself I was worthy of my own time. I spent most of the last year trying to convince myself that I was worthy enough to be on a mission to save the world with love and that I was valuable enough for my coaching clients to be paying me. There were times when I convinced myself I was enough for all of these things, but I could never quite convince myself of my enoughness in a once and for all way. Some small voice was always there telling me, stop trying you really aren’t enough.
Not loving myself enough was always the thing in the way…and so was not loving myself for not loving myself enough…and so on, in a meta not enough kind of way. I blamed the belief that I was not enough for everything that wasn’t working in my life and I blamed myself for not being able to get rid of that faulty belief completely and finally believe that I was enough.
Not that I didn’t try to change my belief. In fact I worked harder at trying to change this belief than I have worked at anything my entire life. The thing is, the more I tried to believe I was enough, the more I tried to believe I was enough. That’s it. That’s all that trying to believe I was enough got me: more trying.
The problem with trying to believe you are enough is that it ignores the truth: sometimes you don’t believe you are enough. You don’t believe you are doing enough or that you know yourself well enough or that you are being and expressing who you really are enough. Ignoring this truth with mantras and other mind tricks can only work for so long. After a while, instead of giving you access to peace, trying to believe you are enough just becomes another thing to do good enough.
This is what I have learned in the past months. I began by listening to the voice that was screaming stop trying you really aren’t enough. I began hearing my truth: I am not enough all the time, I don’t love myself fully all the time, and in fact, sometimes I hate myself. Slowly, painfully, I started to let go of all of the things and people I was trying to prove that I was enough to. Eventually, even more painfully, I let go of the trying itself, and allowed myself to simply not be enough if that was my truth in the moment.
This is the part of being human I least wanted to accept: self hate, insignificance and not enoughness. I am not good enough. I am not special. I am not worthy of this mission I have undertaken to save the world with love. It is not even my mission. I am not a warrior. I am not powerful. I am weak. I have no answers. I do not deserve to be the one to make a difference for myself, anyone else, or the world. I am not entitled to anything, or to be anyone. I have self hate. I am not enough. I have felt each of these things at different times, and still do sometimes today. And that is okay…
And that is truly okay. In fact, it is better than okay. I have never felt so free, or loved.
This is where the unexpected part comes in. Accepting not enoughness is not defeat. It is actually a doorway to freedom, peace and love. Only in fully accepting your truth in the moment – even if it is telling you you are not special, you are not powerful, you have no answers, you are not worthy of whatever mission you have undertaken, you are not anything of significance at all – is there nothing left to prove. It is in this willingness, this acceptance, this total surrender to our own at times fearful self-hateful nothingness, that love can begin to flow without condition. It is there we find the grace to be who we really are.
There were many times in the past few months when I thought my heart and my life were simply falling apart. I felt intense grief, despair, anger, hatred and fear. I felt like a failure. I felt rejected. I felt hopeless. I felt insignificant. I felt there was no meaning left in life. I thought I was giving up on everything and losing everything.
In a way I was. I gave up on everything I thought I knew and was trying to be and create. But I wasn’t really giving up, so much as giving in. That same voice that was telling me to stop, was also telling me to have faith and to trust in this process. I did; just barely, but I did. Although I was losing many things I was gaining something invaluable: an experience of my own humanity, access to deeper truth, and the strength and willingness to accept it. Falling (kicking and screaming) through my own rock bottom, I have never been so wholly loved.
Although I sometimes believe I am not worthy of my mission and I will never do enough or be enough to make enough of a difference in achieving it, I am no longer resisting those feelings. More and more I am learning to accept my truth in the moment, whether it feels pleasant or painful, and from that place l am finding the courage and willingness to speak my truth.
Radical honest and acceptance of our truth in each moment is what self love really is. It is also where peace and fulfillment lives. And it is this unconditional love of our own humanity that has the power to save the world.
From my journey to yours, with love,