When asked “How are you?” we usually say we’re fine. At another level we fear we’re not. Some say everybody has this fear, but we really don’t need such fear any more.
We may imagine we are not “good enough” “rich enough”, or “successful enough”. If you can find that thought in yourself, a great thing to do is to ask yourself: Who says?
Most of this kind of thinking often mirrors our parents’ thinking. The sad thing is that many of us unconsciously pass it on to our children. Sure we may not have known better. The initial answer to “Who says we’re not enough” may seem to be someone else: but how do we know they’re thinking that? We imagine we are being judged by others, but in truth they are usually too busy thinking about themselves.
Some of us compensate for our fear-of-not-being-quite-enough by a show of strength. As a young man, I unconsciously developed the power-walk: chest out, shoulders back; you get it. Others of us kept our heads down, waiting until we felt it was safe. They’re coping strategies, but we could move on.
Think again about the “Who says you’re not enough” question and you may come to the view that it’s you. You may be the one who has been saying you are not enough, in whatever version rings true for you. I spent years giving myself a hard time for not being OK. In effect, I was being both punisher and victim.
How do you get out of that one? Imagine a jailor kept a prisoner in a cell in chains. Who would have to take action for the prisoner to be free? The prisoner cannot escape without help, so in almost every case the jailor has to let the prisoner out. When we give ourselves a hard time we are being both the prisoner and the jailor. It turns out we have the key to our own adequacy.
As it happens, some people think I’m rather wise and others think I’m something of a fool. That’s their prerogative. Let’s say I’m one or the other or both. It no longer really matters. I will never be perfect and neither will you. Meanwhile we can accept ourselves for who we are or may be, and as we do that we find we accept one another.
There’s a chain affixed to the frame of our front door. The thing is it isn’t attached to anything. When I took the photo I was holding the loose end. At any point I can open the door and explore the world. See you there.
Same question for your family life, your social life, your life as a whole, if you want it to be a whole. Within your overall responsibilities, you get to decide how you are going to lead your life; unless you don’t. Don’t worry about other people trying to stop you: they are too busy trying not to think about their own lives. You can set goals that fit with your purpose and values, you can lead a life that reflects your purpose and values, and progressively life becomes aligned. Authenticity turns out to be easier than hiding.
We recently ran a workshop at a top university and a student was astonished to discover that she could get to choose her purpose and her values for her life. Nobody had told her. OK, go on, be yourself: there’s so much more of you to express.