personal reflections

I Am Enough

I’m reflecting back on a book I read a little while ago: Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection.

There were many great excerpts from her book and I particularly liked this one (emphasis mine):

My friend Lynne Twist has written an incredible book called The Soul of Money. In this book, Lynne addresses the myth of scarcity. She writes, For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of … We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money—ever. We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough—ever. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack … What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.

I reflected on the impact when my thought pattern is on the ‘not enough’ train or when I encounter it in conversation with others.

I notice the impact first in my eyes – it’s as though I can feel them droop down a little, followed by a pull of my shoulders as they round forward. My brow furrows and my breath feels shallow. My heart feels like a small pebble in the caverns of my chest. I feel defeated, sometimes apathetic, judgemental, and low. Incredible that I am likely experiencing this kind of physiological reaction many times in a day either from my own “not enough” diatribe or from listening to others complain about people they think aren’t enough.

So what’s the antidote?

Lynne says that addressing scarcity doesn’t mean searching for abundance but rather choosing a mind-set of sufficiency: We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough. Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.

This connects to Peggy Holman’s book Engaging Emergence, where she writes about choosing possibility, to Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze’s Walk Out Walk On, where one of the concepts is “we have what we need”, and to the Appreciative Inquiry approach.

When I change my mindset from “not enough” to “I am enough” there is such a different feeling. Buoyancy, breath, hope, space, patience. The experience is similar when I think that others are enough. My thoughts are kinder, there is possibility where before futility.

It doesn’t mean that I gloss over or naively ignore what issues might be in front of me. It means that I’m able to approach them from a different mindset, where I have creative capacity that I can tap into.

I’d rather go about my day and my work that way, with that small, internal declaration that I am enough.

I have enough.

They are enough.

We have what we need.

Now let’s see what we can create together from that space.