I am an expert at making myself the absolute lowest priority of my life because quite honestly, I didn’t like myself enough to even consider doing the things that I’m doing now. In fact, I hated myself.
Where that even came from, I’m not even certain. I don’t think it was one thing. If you feel that way now, it’s likely not one thing for you either, but a culmination of a lot of things. Some big things and some very small things to reinforce your negative thoughts over time. All of these things compound just like performing daily self-care rituals compound.
The problem is, we tend to focus on the negative and we even take on certain characteristics as a result of our past experiences, the beliefs that we have created about ourselves, our upbringing, our indoctrination, societal expectations; all of the things. They have all compounded into this place you’re in now where you have come to believe that if only you were that instead of this, then life would be better.
Here’s what I mean by assigning characteristics to ourselves based on our interpretation of circumstances. Notice how you talk to yourself and about yourself.
“I’m not good enough or smart enough to start my own business.” This likely comes from a compare and despair approach to what others around you are doing. Your brain is filtering and replaying those negative thoughts that you have honed into a skill over time. You see what someone else is doing and believe that you have to do it exactly the same way in order to be successful. And since you don’t know HOW to do that or do it in that way, you make it a shortcoming and give up before you start. You make it about you.
“I’m not thin enough or pretty enough to find a partner.” Well, we can definitely blame advertising for this one. Women especially have been programmed from a very young age to perceive beauty as what we see on the cover of magazines and now with social media and all of its filters, that’s in your face all day, every day (if you allow it to be). While it is getting better; while there is a body positive movement in progress, we still have a long way to go as society and honestly, this a global issue. Yes, there is compare and despair here too, but also some solid patriarchal conditioning. The whole “what men want” or “what women want” concept. Ridiculous. Lies.
“I’m not disciplined or organized or structured enough to create a new routine.” Listen, we are all unique. What works for me may not be your cup of tea. But if there is something that you want to do or something that you want to change and you’re not going after it because you’ve labeled yourself incapable of doing so then of course you will make this your reality.
Here’s one I’ve heard more than a few times: “I’m not confident enough to try that. I’m not like those people.” You’ve got one thing right. You’re not like any other person on this planet. You are a unique, radiant human being who has so much to offer yet what you’re really saying is that you’re too afraid to show up. And you’re forgetting that fear is just an emotion that will pass through you when you allow yourself to feel it. Fine. Be afraid. And do it anyway.
Find that awareness of how you are talking to yourself and about yourself.
What’s that all about? This business of “I’m not this or I’m not that…I’m not enough” is absolutely crippling to so many of us and it’s completely unnecessary. The truth is, we do it to ourselves.
We keep replaying those messages over and over until we’ve come to believe it.
What if we started catching those thoughts and turning them around into something better? What would we be capable of? Damn. Anything. Anything you want.
Do you need to dig into the roots of all of the things that have happened along the way to make you think these thoughts? Perhaps. I really think that part is up to you. I personally found that after years of spilling my guts in therapy, I wasn’t able to fully reach a place of healing because I was constantly focused on what everyone else had “done to me” to make me feel like I did about myself. That is my experience. You may find this approach to be very beneficial. I want to be clear that I absolutely adore and support the therapist community. It is needed and now, more than ever. By all means, if you have unresolved issues from your past that need to be unpacked, please explore therapy.
The single realization that helped me the most was knowing that I am worthy.
And you can certainly get there through therapy. You can get there through a coach. You can get there through a combination of the two. I have clients that also see therapists. The way I see it, we have different lanes that intersect when it comes to helping a person see that she or he is whole and worthy. We simply take different paths to get there.
I’ve said this before: I meet you where you are. While your past interactions have certainly played a role in forming your thoughts and beliefs about yourself, all I really need to know is how you feel about yourself now. The depths of the pain that we carry around are largely self-inflicted in the form of that repetitive voice in our heads telling us that we are not enough.
Suffering is optional.
And for some reason, we learn to find comfort in the suffering because it’s what we know best. Also, it keeps us safe. If I’m afraid to move forward because of something that happened in the past that I’ve allowed my brain to turn into an actual characteristic of my SELF…? Well, then I don’t have to risk looking like a fool. I can just say I don’t have enough confidence and leave it at that.
I can in fact go through my entire life that way. And many of us do. The only difference between where I am now and where you may be now is that I decided I don’t want to be miserable anymore. I truly didn’t want to continue down the path of self-loathing. Nothing good came of that. There’s no upside.
The reason I get my ass up at 5:30 in the morning is so I can dedicate some time to loving myself. It’s important to me to start each day with some semblance of self-care. Remember, energy flows where your focus goes. If the first thing I focus on is Instagram and I see what other coaches are doing that I’m not doing, I start spiraling into comparison mode almost automatically. Or if I check Twitter and see within the first two minutes that the world is burning, then I might get down on all of humanity.
Then my brain is going to go into despair and helplessness. Combine that with a gloomy weather day and you have a recipe for hours of Netflix in bed.
Don’t act like you haven’t done it because I sure have.
Yet, suffering is optional.
And you are worthy.
I was watching a video clip recently of Shaman Durek speaking about awakening your powers. That is my jam. He said, “The fact that you are alive should tell you that the universe in all of its power and all of its energy decided to have you exist. That itself is powerful.”
Oh, yes. I absolutely love the way that he put that out there in just a few words.
And I’ve been exposing myself more and more to similar concepts over recent years that serve to undo the damage of those compounded negative experiences. In the podcasts I listen to, the books I read; the documentaries I watch. It’s like food for my soul.
Have you ever tried clean eating for a period of time? Do you notice how great your body feels when you do that? Also, do you notice how easy it is to slip back into your old eating habits?
Your mind works the same way. Fill it with junk all day long and you’re creating a recipe for thought spirals. Making conscious choices to consume healthy, nourishing messages from sources that you can trust will make a world of difference in how you see the world around you and most importantly, how you see yourself.
If you can make the conscious choice to notice your thoughts and to find intentional ways to shower yourself with positivity for, let’s say 21 days straight, you’ll start to be drawn to do this more and more. Because you are going to start feeling better about yourself.
That should really be the primary goal for all of us in this life. Never mind the accomplishments, the plans, the dreams of success as you have defined it. The peaks that you want to reach if you could only climb out of this valley. Just set all of that aside for a moment and turn everything inward. Humor me.
What do you see? How do you see yourself? How do you speak to yourself? How do you go about the business of loving yourself? That is where the magic happens. It isn’t in the attainment of the things or the status. Yes, reaching your goals feels amazing when you get there, but that will be temporary. Finding out who you really are and knowing that you are enough holds value beyond measure.
Yes, you can heal the wounds of your inner child and yes, you can create new beliefs by building a thought ladder. All of that said, I recognize that another key component to your successful healing is to know that you are enough. Otherwise, you might not even start, because you’re holding yourself back with your disempowering thoughts.
You may need to start building your belief ladder there first. To reach your enough-ness. Hell, that ladder may be the highest one that you need to build, so get to the business of building it and climb up out of that hole. Out of that valley.
I do believe that it’s the single most important thing that you can do for yourself and for everyone else around you. Panache Desai says, “When you can…just relax into who you are here and now, others are freed to do the same.”
What he means by this is that your relationships with other humans will naturally improve. Not only is it the case that when you bring a relaxed and easy energy to the room, others are more likely mirror that, it also means that others are freed to love you. When you love yourself, it’s evident to others – those that are paying attention, anyway. That light inside of you just radiates. It’s hard to explain, but you may know what I’m talking about.
You know those people that just light up a room. Or that bring an energy of ease and calm with them. I promise you it’s not because they’ve had an easier life than you. It’s because they’ve done the work.
Know that you always have the choice. I’ve mentioned your choices a few times now. Just like decisions. You make many decisions throughout every day, whether you realize it or not. And deciding not to is in itself a decision. You may decide not to do your planned work out today. You may decide not to stick to your meal plan. You may decide not to show up for your coaching or therapy session. Okay, those may be obvious.
You are also deciding every single day whether to do the work on yourself that is necessary to bring you out of that place you’ve been stuck in for so long.
If it seems like too much, if it feels overwhelming, if it even seems not a high priority as you’re juggling all of your daily stressors, this is where I remind you that the safety procedures on an airplane include putting your own oxygen mask on first.
It isn’t selfish to do the work on yourself. In doing this work, you’re going to automatically improve all areas of your life. It changes the way that you view your relationships, your work environment; the world around you.
When you come to that place of knowing that you are worthy and you are absolutely enough of whatever it is that you have been seeking outside of you, it’s like everything falls into place. Oh, this is how I’m supposed to be living this life!
It is indeed freeing.
Now I absolutely know that it’s not enough for ME or any number of amazing thought leaders out there to tell you that YOU are enough. You have to buy in to it too.
How did I do it? Well, it’s been a process over time, for sure. I listened to many hours of podcasts, read a lot of books, and really immersed myself in my coaching studies. I have participated in a lot of group coaching sessions and honestly, the power of witnessing another person being coached is immeasurable. When you see yourself in another person, you realize you’re not alone in your flawed thinking; in your emotional suffering.
There are so many of us out there in the world, functioning just fine on the surface but dealing with a lot of turmoil internally. It’s so unnecessary. It’s why I do this work. And yes, I have my own coach. It’s like a weekly tune up for your brain.
Coaching others is an immersive experience. I’m totally focused on them and it takes me out of myself for that time. It’s absolutely wonderful, and the reason that I added the mention of group coaching is that when you are neither the coach or the client, but you have an opportunity to just witness what’s happening and take notes, that’s so beneficial. If you’re ever in a position to do that, I highly recommend it.
The point is, I’ve been living in this world for a few years and I’ve been doing the work. That’s where I’ve learned how to build my own belief ladders and climb up and out of that place of being stuck. Being part of a thriving coaching community that focuses on service to others really keeps me on track.
But that’s not the only thing. If I lost all of those connections tomorrow, I would be left with the knowledge that I have the ability to recreate or build new whatever I need to move forward in this life. Because now I know that I am smart enough, capable enough, competent enough…I am enough.
“You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?”Rumi
That’s what I’m talking about.
Do what works for you. And notice the DO part of that statement. We often get caught up in “how” of trying new things. How do I go about the business of feeling better about myself? What do I need to DO in order to make that happen?
Because I know how we think (I know how I think), I felt compelled to give you an example. That’s all it is. What works for you? Maybe you are a runner. Or you used to be, and you’d like to get back to it. Maybe cardio is your jam first thing in the morning. It absolutely is not mine!
Whatever it is, find what keeps you present and allows you to just be with yourself for a period of time each day that is uninterrupted. Things like yoga, meditation, and breathwork may seem like things that only tree-hugging, crunchy hippies would do, and I’m here to say, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
You may find that you like the company you keep in the empty moments.
You may just find that you are enough when you take the time to be with yourself.
This post is a partial transcript of my podcast, What Lights You Up – Episode 31. I invite you to enjoy the full episode and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or Audible!