“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckart Tolle
It was flawless. Well, almost.
It was a job I enjoyed, done with someone I care about, my sons were doing well, and it seemed like our journey to retirement had finally begun. This picture is so perfect!
There are many.
I was constantly feeling anxious and dissatisfied when I woke up in the morning. I felt like my life was lacking something. It Was missing something, wasn’t doing enough. I asked: “How can I make my business better?” Which of my children will do the most next year? Is my partner gaining weight? Did I run yesterday?
Before I could get on top of things, anxiety crept in to my brain and took over my entire body. It was an unease that something just wasn’t quite right. And if it was, then it wouldn’t be for long.
I was well-versed in anxiety and neuroscience to be able to recognize what was actually happening.
The protective patterns of negative thoughts and feelings that result from scanning the environment for possible threats are called “negative thoughts”.
Our ancestors were wired this way to survive, thankfully, and we are probably in the first generation that can even talk about the word “abundance,” at least in this part of the world. The trauma that comes with feeling unsafe over generations is a recent memory and it runs deeply in our DNA.
Even though we have all the necessary knowledge about trauma and the most effective practices for breathing, meditation, yoga and other forms of relaxation, the missing link is still there.
Given the global war on terror, all my concerns seemed insignificant. This seemed to be a self indulgent desire to have more. Even when it felt enough, it was because all the factors were lining up in that moment, but it felt precarious, like a house of cards—even though I knew it wasn’t.
All the self-help books promised I could “reach for my dreams” and “have my best life ever” if I only changed my habits and my mindset and lived like I thought all the people around me were.
In fact, I was so busy working on my life that I felt exhausted and still felt like I wasn’t doing or giving enough. Even when deciding what charity to donate to, to help those in need, I felt like I had to choose the “right” one!
My work with chronic pain patients was the catalyst for a change in my life. I was teaching about the difference between acceptance and giving up in the search for a cure, and I said something like “It’s not so much what you are doing but How you are doing it.”
Fear is created when you approach something with pressure or intensity and worry about failing to get it right. Fear can lead to greater fear, which in turn leads to pain.
My inner perfectionist gasped, and I took a step back. Her inner perfectionist was shocked.
Not only did I see how my inner perfectionist had been running the show, I knew that if I wanted to negotiate with her, I was going to have to come from a different energy other than “getting this right.”
It was her kindness that had helped me.
It was a guilt trip by her that made me feel like I wasn’t a good mother, friend, therapist or spouse. She then showed me the many ways in which I can be better. She also shared her knowledge with my family. I was told how to conduct myself, how to behave, what food they should have, how to live, etc.
Sometimes, this was done directly. However, she sometimes worked behind-the-scenes through manipulation and people-pleasing.
Fear and shame were my trauma responses. This was something I learned in childhood that made me feel inadequate. So I employed her services to keep me safe, help me fit in at school, get good marks, and be an all around “good girl” on the outside. The inner pressures of perfectionism can be unbearable. It soon turned into an eating disorder, when my life became chaotic.
It can be hard to spot and difficult to break. It goes: shame-inner critic-perfection, and it balances itself precariously inside our mind and body leaving its imprint of “not good enough”To guide our lives.
This is compounded by a culture that primes us to feel like we’re not okay and there is always something to buy, change, or fix, because it is not normal to just be okay.
The trauma I suffered was decades ago but the scarring memories are still there. I could not quite relax into my life without something or someone, mostly myself, feeling “not quite good enough.” I also found this same core belief to be at the root of many if not all of my clients’ struggles with anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.
It was the constant feeling of being here but wanting to be… You can go anywhere or you can meet someone.An inability to fully sink into life without faults or minor hiccups is a knee-jerk reaction to it. Worse, I thought that doing and being more was the only way to prove my worth.
Not. Good. Enough.
For what is it not good enough? Which person? Because it’s a lie, this is an inexplicable question. But it is one thing to know that and another to let my inner perfectionist know I was safe now and she could take a backseat because, well, I’m good enough.
It was the moments when I felt at ease and free.
The people who had the greatest impact on my life were the ones I was thinking about.
My future self was twenty years away and we had a conversation about what qualities she had, how her body moved and the things that she treasured.
The result was a simple one: simplicity.
This is the area where I needed to be careful. This is where my inner perfectionist would find simplicity extremely, very difficult. Instead, she’d approach it with an all in attitude.
There had to be a better way.
This turned out to be the best way: Accept what’s happening now.
Is it possible to be happy with everything, as it stands right now? Imagine if everything was perfect right now. Imagine if my health, body and relationships were all in my control? Is that enough?
This felt revolutionary, radical. It felt as if I was disrupting my own beliefs about how to live a happy life. It was not the energy of giving up or rationalizing that I didn’t deserve more and I should settle for less. It wasn’t even the energy of gratitude or appreciating what I have and how privileged I am.
It was actually the reverse.
Accepting myself as good enough has helped me overcome the belief in inferiority or superiority, which tells people that some are better than others. This allowed me to relax and accept the reality that everyone is doing their best with the information we have at the moment. If I could be good enough then other people were also.
It busted the myth of needing more and being more, because I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone. This also dispelled the myth that I needed to accept everything in my life. It was the exact opposite.
More energy was available What I Love,It’s not the same as I Do it.The absence of worry and struggle was replaced by self-forgiveness.
Embracing my life as good enough gave me the doorway I needed to a quality of life I couldn’t imagine.
I discovered that I’m good enough to be me.
It was clear that I had the ability to define boundaries about who and what I would allow.
My abilities to write, talk, and create were evident.
I realized that I had enough strength to go on without resting.
It was easy to accept my needs and wants.
I realized I was already good enough for pleasure right here and now in a million ways I couldn’t see before.
I realized my life was not about being better, improved, fixed… it was about being who I am, and that was enough.
My realization was that I could be more productive and earn more.
My body is a unique organism. It was meant to be held and loved, not controlled.
Because it was enough, I knew that each decision was the right one.
It was clear that I wasn’t meant for struggle, but to give, love, and contribute.
My life was full of happiness, joy, comfort and ease.
One of the most beautiful parts of this is looking in my children’s eyes and knowing that they, too, are so perfectly good enough just as they are. They don’t need to prove their worth to anyone.
Embracing my good enough life has allowed me to enter my life, just as I am, and has turned “good enough” into “how good can it get?” It gave me the safety I needed to “do what I can, with what I have, where I am” (Theodore Roosevelt).
Do you think a world were everyone felt good enough? A world in which everyone lives from forgiveness, grace and compassion?
Are you good enough to live the life you want?
About Madeleine Eames
Mindful Living Now was founded by Madeleine Eames. It helps people to heal from trauma and chronic pain, as well as realize their value through breathwork, meditation, mindfulness and yoga. Join her in the quest to reclaim our lives at mindfullivingnow.com or on Facebook or Instagram. Join Madeleine’s next online retreat Good Girl to Good Enough.
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Tiny Buddha published the post How Embracing a Good Enough Life GAVE Me the Life of My Dreams originally on Tiny Buddha.