I have a secret mom confession. Or maybe it’s the confession of just being a woman, or perhaps a recovering perfectionist, but whatever category this fall into, I think it’s something that I’m not alone in feeling. I just want to know that I’m doing good enough. Am I right? I mean, theoretically, I know I am good enough. God tells me that I am. Jesus covers my not-enoughness and makes me whole.
Let’s be real though, it’s a lot easier to know something than to really believe it. I have been coaching people for years on embracing this truth as I myself as learning to do the same, and there’s something beautiful in that sisterhood solidarity when we start telling our truths more and when we spend less time worrying about what other people might think of us and instead use that energy to build those “others” up. Sometime I think we hold our breath, waiting for happiness, waiting to give ourselves permission to be happy, for that feeling of “enoughness” to feel real.
The real real is that happiness is what everyone wants, but it is something, that, though available to everyone, very few actually get. Billion dollar industries are built on promising us happiness with the next purchase we make, or the next diet we try and we are bombarded with uncountable messages about how to be happier and about what we should and should not be doing to reach this said state of happiness. Why is it then that most people are still chasing what seems unreachable? Why it is that they can’t reach the finish line of happiness?
It’s not because happiness is that difficult to experience or feel. Happiness is simple. And it is available. It has no price tag and no prerequisites. It does not see race, color, age, gender, background, bank accounts, job titles or preferences. It just exists. For everyone.But I really believe that there is a phrase that keeps people from it. It is a simple phrase, but noxious…
The deadly phrase?
“I should ________”.
There are a million ways this phrase gets delivered in the minds and through the mouths of people across the world. Here are some:
I should be further than where I am. I should be skinnier. I should be happier. I should be more thankful. I should be more disciplined. I should be with him. I should be with her. I should be more successful. I should be the best. I should be in a better car. I should be in a bigger house. I should be more mindful of my sugar. I should exercise more. I should be able to figure this out on my own. I should make more money. I should have that job title. I should get more sleep. I should be taller. I should be more confident. I should be less stressed. I should be better at this than I am. I should be more helpful. I should be more motivated. I should eat gluten-free. I should be vegan. I should be paleo. I should write a book. I should walk more. I should speak up for myself. I should be better in bed. I should get into therapy. I should like being around people more. I should learn to be alone. I should be bigger. I should be smaller. I should be funnier. I should stop talking so much. I should cut back on social media. I should pay attention to my feelings. I should journal. I should floss my teeth. I should stop eating after 8PM. I should be more attractive. I should be a better parent. I should be more patient. I should be more observant. I should have a higher sex drive. I should have a lower sex drive. I should be a better dancer. I should like to workout more. I should like small talk. I should be less awkward. I should be more organized. I should watch less TV. I should read more. I should be like him / her.
Now, any number of these can be valid, and as long as the phrase is said with an authentic desire to take action, execute change or do that thing. More often than not though, they are said in the context of shame. We say these things to ourselves to guilt ourselves into action, but what happens is the opposite. We don’t take action. Instead, we crumble into ourselves, collapsing from the inside out into a lump of resignation that feels a lot like averageness. And happiness feels like a polarized magnet, pushing far, far away from where we sit slumped over with our “not-enoughness.”
The truth is that sometimes we are primed for this not-enoughness. We don’t get the affirmation we crave from someone we love. We get told offhandedly that we aren’t that special. We start believing the lie that marketing companies are feeding us that we would just be happier, prettier, healthier if just …”.
Additionally, we are prey to the messages of society that we should be able to be it all and do it all, and well, that’s just exhausting and leaves us mentally depleted and constantly questioning whether or not we deserve to relax or just be present. I certainly haven’t mastered this conundrum, but admittedly have made some modest progress in this area over a few years of intentionality, and what I have learned is that I don’t have to listen to the suggestions of self-imposed, performance-based perfectionism that my mind seems wired for. I’ve learned that when I feel like I am behind because I “should” be doing something that I need to resist.
Resist. “Should” I really be doing X,Y and Z? Are X, Y and Z really increasing my happiness, my value, or my ability to be present and grateful for the moment I have today? Oh, and before you think I’m on a soapbox, you need to know that every time, every single time, that I put my foot down in this way, I feel silly, and like an imposter, and unsure of whether or not it will shake the mental cloudiness and pressure I feel. And, likewise, every time I mentally resist in this way, I feel better. I feel empowered, grounded, confident, free, present … alive.
PPS:Need a pep talk today?(Don’t we all?!) Pop your earphones in and listen to this week’s #TheConfidencePodcast,which is hot-off-the-presses and FREE, anywhere you listen to podcasts! You can also listen directly at www.trishblackwell.com/283.