I promised you at the beginning of my public writing journey that I would share with you some of my own personal challenges, some even as they happen, and how I work through them. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed the emerging of another layer of a frequent challenge in my life. So I thought that this would be a perfect time to make good on my promise and show you that I really do try to practice what I preach! :)
You may have noticed that at the end of each of my reflections, I lovingly remind you that you are deserving, you are worthy, and you are good enough. Here’s a little secret: I say that reminder to you as much for your benefit as for my own! Yes, it’s true—sometimes teachers really do teach what they most need to learn or to be reminded of in their own lives! ;)
The truth is that I have had a very, very long relationship with “not enough.” It has been around for decades of my life. In fact, it’s safe to say that this relationship may very well be both one of my oldest and my still-current relationships!
I don’t know when this relationship started, exactly, but I do know that it was intimately connected to my relationship with my mother. My mom and I had quite a complex and, at times, very difficult relationship. When I was a child, and even well into my adulthood, I constantly felt that so much of what I did or who I was just wasn’t enough to make my mother happy with me.
It felt like this cavernous hole that I could never really fill. Even if I got straight As, I felt more like it was expected than that it was an accomplishment that she was really proud of. If I tried to tell her about a great experience I had, it would often turn into some kind of topic-related lecture about some certain way I should act or certain thing I should do, diminishing the happy feelings I’d had about that experience, and leaving me feeling sad, alone, and not validated.
Now, I know that others who may have known my mother may have heard her say how proud she was of me and how much she loved me. But truthfully, I think it may have been easier for her to tell others those things than to tell me. I just had a much different overall feeling and experience of her, and I didn’t hear her say those words very often to me at all. In general, I often heard and felt almost the opposite.
Again, as I have said before, I share these details of my journey with you from a very peaceful space. I have worked through so many of my feelings regarding many of my relationships, especially the one with my mother. I realize that she had so many struggles in her own human life, and I can look on her now with great compassion. She had many wonderful and amazing traits as well, and I continue to be grateful for having witnessed all of those traits.
I share these details because I have become a firm believer that all of us are indeed very multifaceted. I feel that it can really help us to acknowledge and eventually make peace with all the facets we see in our relationships with others and with ourselves, no matter if we think they are “good,” “bad,” or otherwise. Regardless of how we may judge them, all of these facets are real to us, and making peace with all of them can so help to calm and lighten the spaces in our hearts and minds.
A few years ago, as I began to reflect even more deeply on my life, one thing I realized was that I could never really define what the idea of “enough” would really mean in my mother’s eyes. I realized that I’d been striving for a goal that was both not clearly defined and pretty much unattainable, as whatever I did, or whoever I was or was growing to be, seemed to me liked it was “not enough.”
I also began to realize how my relationship with “not enough” had quietly snuck its way into my adult life. Once I took a closer look, I realized it was just about everywhere in my life! It showed up in some of the ways I viewed my own relationships with others. And it definitely showed up in so, so many of the ways I viewed my relationship with myself. I realized that deep down, I felt like whoever I was and whatever I did was just not good enough for me!
I have worked so hard on this particular relationship, because I realize how untrue and unhealthy it is, and how, if left unchecked, it really could have the potential to make me a very miserable person! I try, especially with this relationship, to treat myself with the kind of love that I may have wished to receive more overtly from my mother as I was a child.
I have done so much forgiveness and compassion work, of both my mother and myself, and generally, these days, I am in a very good place with my relationship with “not enough.” Now, I simply see any remnants of that relationship as a reminder to myself that I could use even more of my own gentle love, kindness, and non-judgment. :)
Also, from time to time, that relationship still comes back to remind me that it needs my attention in a different area of my life. ;) Recently, it came back again, definitely in a very different and new area of my life!
In doing my writing work, I promised myself from the start that even if my work had a positive impact on one person, that would be “enough” for me. But, like many of us who hope to know that our work matters, I noticed myself starting to fall into that cavernous hole again. That unhelpful part of my mind started talking to me again....!
“Okay, one person finding value in your work—yeah, that’s really great! But...what about more than one person? ...And yeah, it’s really an honor if x number of people “like” or share your work—seriously, it is! But...what about y number more?” ;)
Do you see where this can lead?! Finally, I asked myself, “Francine, if 200,000 people really loved your work, would you really think that THAT was enough, or would you still then say, “yeah, but what if there were 500,000?!” Uh-oh.... ;)
That’s when I realized I needed to get even more serious about practicing what I’ve found is the greatest antidote to my relationship with “not enough.” What do I do when I start to fall into this hole? I get even more serious about practicing gratitude.
Yes gratitude—in this case, for the fact that I can even do this work at all. Gratitude that I can express my opinions and experiences and not be constantly worried that I will be killed for doing so, as is the case in so much of this world. And gratitude for that one person who may really be benefited by something I happen to say. Because that one person is just as amazing, just as important, and just as deserving to benefit from this life as I am, and as we all are. :)
I can also find gratitude for the fact that I have more than adequate access to all of my basic needs. Gratitude that I have and also choose to take the quiet time and space I need to do the work I do. Gratitude that I have at least one person who sees me and all of my many sides and is still so extremely supportive in every aspect of my life.
Gratitude for the beauty of nature, for all I’ve been through and have learned, for the simplicity and the complexity of life, and for so, so much more.
Now, gratitude can on occasion get tricky, if we let it. The gratitude I’m talking about is truly for things I feel are good and healthy in my life. It is not meant to be a way to dull or deny other emotions that really may need an additional look or question.
For instance, if I expressed sadness about something and was told or might think, “Yeah, well, at least you’re not _____ (insert even sadder or worse situation here,) so you should be grateful!” That is not what I’m referring to, as I so believe that the sadness in this example (along with any other feelings) should be allowed to be questioned or processed without being pushed aside for “gratitude” that only serves to cover up that real sadness.
However, in the case of my relationship with “not enough,” this particular relationship has shown me time and time again that its standards are unreasonable, undefinable, and not good for my overall health. Therefore, I’ve found that practicing real gratitude is a great antidote for this particular relationship in my life. :)
I have so, so much to be truly grateful for, not in the least, for you, for connecting with me and for taking the time to read my thoughts and reflections and to ponder them for your own life. I want you to know that I am truly, truly appreciative of you—not only for connecting with me, but for being who you are and contributing to this world in all the undoubtedly great ways that you do. :) And for me, that gratitude is way, way more than “enough.”
My challenge for you this week is as follows: See if you can notice or think about one kind of dynamic or behavior that you may have learned in your own childhood, which may have possibly snuck into your adult life and may not be serving you very well now. Maybe it’s a relationship with “not enough,” like mine. Maybe it’s something that could possibly stem from a challenging relationship you may have had with one or both of your own parents or other family members, much like where I believe the origin of my “not enough” relationship came from.
If you’re unsure of where to look for this kind of possible dynamic or behavior, check in with any areas of your life that you feel challenged in right now. Those areas could possibly include areas of physical health, relationships, work, etc. See if you can open to the idea that this challenging area of your life may not always need to be so challenging. ;) See if you can imagine that with your loving assistance, this area could become less challenging over time and even lead you to greater levels of peace and happiness in your own life.
If you can begin to notice patterns like these in your life and consider where they may stem from, you can begin and/or continue to make peace with even more areas of yourself and the ways you relate to other people and/or to your past and present life. In doing so, you can create an even brighter future than you may have previously imagined possible.
I’ve found that noticing these patterns can be a lifelong process with many potential layers. But I’ve also found that there are even deeper and deeper layers of peace, happiness, and love which we can experience in our lives, if we peel away the layers of old patterns which may no longer be serving us.
As you consider these patterns, dynamics, or behaviors, let yourself be as kind with yourself as if you were speaking with someone you dearly loved. See if you can refrain from the totally normal temptations to judge or bully yourself if you should spot these patterns. ;) Be kind to yourself. You are so, so worth it.
Most of all, see if you can allow yourself to practice gratitude during this process, or even just more overall in your whole life. See if you can be grateful for even being willing to search for anything that may no longer serve you as well in your life. That itself is a huge, huge accomplishment which takes an extraordinary amount of courage!
If you feel so inspired, after giving this some thought, come back to the comments here and let me know more about an area which you have noticed may no longer be serving you. Also, I’d love to hear what you are grateful for in your own life! Let’s share gratitude statements with each other. :)
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Want to explore more ways to look at yourself from a kind, compassionate place? Check out my first book right here. It's a great place for you to do just that!
No matter what, always remember this: You are deserving, you are worthy, and you are truly, truly good enough. ;) Keep being you, keep shining, and keep growing!
With great love,