Your Good-Enough List (A critical Sanity-Saving Tool)
I recently attended a three-day women’s festival that I attended for the first time in 2016. It’s never the same the second, third or umpteenth time around is it? First of all, there’s that ‘first time newness’ that we can only get once. “Wow! Look at that!” “Goodness, that’s amazing!” And so on … because we are seeing things through fresh, first-time eyes.
In our subsequent visits, while we look for that same magic, but logically know it will be different than our beloved ‘first-time’. We then start to notice what’s not there that we liked the previous year(s), and lament “But I really liked that!”
So this year, I decided to focus instead on what was new, different and intriguing. And that’s how I came across The Release Tree.
Meditate or reflect on something in your life you’d like to let go of, write it on a little wooden heart, tie it to the tree and release it with love. (Hang on … if I want to let go of this, how and why do I release it with love? I discovered the answer to that question, but that’s a topic for another blog post … stay tuned!)
I went to The Release Tree several times during those three days – there’s been a lot going on in my life lately that left me with a lot of negative emotions and feelings. For me, the magic truly worked.
Yet every time I visited the tree, I also became incredibly (almost overwhelmingly) sad.
As the three days progressed, that tree was getting very full, I can tell you. Like a lot of other festival-goers, I’d take the time to see what other women had decided to let go of, and it struck me there were most definitely ‘themes’ in the things being hung on that tree.
For instance, one theme was that of ‘letting go of my worries about what I cannot control’. Often a challenge, that’s for sure. (and if you can relate to that, I highly recommend reading what the late, great Stephen Covey said about our Circle of Concern and our Circle of Influence).
The absolute stand-out, most referred to theme was not being enough.
“I’m not old enough” “I’m not smart enough” I’m not outgoing enough” “I’m not brave enough”
And then … the most ‘popular’: “I’m not good enough”
I can’t tell you how many little wooden hearts had that written on them. For me, it really felt heartbreaking.
I could ponder for hours about how we, as women, got this way.
Yet more important to me is how to we undo this? How do we start to feel we are actually good enough?
Confession time: this feeling of not being good enough has plagued me most of my life. And just when I think I’ve got it pretty well handled, up pops another situation where I can hear the voice in my head saying “Who do you think you are? You’re not XYZ enough to do this!” (I’d fill in the XYZ with any adjective related to the situation I found myself in.)
And then the voice gets louder (so I can’t ignore it), speaks in absolutes like “never” (so I feel the situation and my feelings can’t change) and becomes pervasive (before I know it, there isn’t a single area of my life in which I actually feel I am good enough).
If you’d like to read a great book about changing this kind of self-talk, I can’t recommend Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism book highly enough.
But back to not being good enough …
On my meditative walk the other day, an idea suddenly hit me: why not create my very own, personal Good Enough List?
It needs to cover a whole lot of areas of my life and various endeavours I apply myself to, such as …
I’m sure you get the idea here. It’s about having your own measurements about these things.
Yes, we live in a competitive world, and we most likely have become very conditioned to compare ourselves and our ‘results’ to others. Sometimes this is helpful, useful and, well, just how the world works. Like when you nominate yourself for an award of some sort – you know the whole process will cause you and others to compare you to others.
Yet, I think it’s vital we avoid this constant comparing in any contexts of our lives that we can. Only then will we be able to have the space and opportunity to think about what our personal standards really are. What’s right for us? What’s good enough?
All this reminds me of a story I read many years ago. It’s about a fisherman relaxing with his fishing rods beside him on a pier. A businessman came by and asked him what he was doing. “Why aren’t you out fishing?” The fisherman replied “I’ve caught enough fish for the day.” The businessman goes on to say “but if you caught more fish, you could earn more money. Then you could buy a boat, go into deeper waters, catch more fish, make more money … and soon you could own two boats – maybe even a fleet of fishing boats. Then you would be a rich man like me, and then, well, you could really enjoy life!”
“What do you think I’m doing right now?” says the fisherman.
For you, how much is enough?
And what if you are good enough already?
Make your Good Enough List – and notice the lightness in your step and the smile on your face. And be proud.
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