Am I Good Enough?

This weekend I came face to face with that age old question of “Am I good enough?” It’s always the first question we ask ourselves when doubt and fear enter our energy profiles, isn’t it? I came face to face with that question both in my own life and in the lives of more than few others I had the chance to interact with over the weekend. It’s a nice reminder that we are all the same. We all have the opportunity to face challenges large and small and determine what awakenings are intended to unfold. I’m pretty excited to see those awakenings even if I don’t always prefer the path we all need to travel on to get to them!

There have been periods of my life when I have lived with the question of “Am I good enough?” at the forefront of my mind 24/7 and there have been periods of my life where I truly know that my best effort in the moment is good enough. In the first scenario I am often paralyzed by my own fear and have trouble getting anything done. In the second scenario I typically move with confidence and grace. One of the interesting things about this dynamic is that it really doesn’t matter what part of the cycle you happen to be in or which scenario is your normal at the present moment, the answer to the question of “Am I good enough?” can change from “Yes” to “No” in a heartbeat!

Here’s a piece of good news though. The answer to the question of “Am I good enough?” can change back to “Yes” from “No” just as quickly as it flipped in the other direction if you let it. You get to decide!

Over the past couple of years, one of the many things that I’ve been working on to become a better version of myself is to get better at receiving feedback. My desire to get better at receiving feedback stemmed from years of being resistant to feedback because I had a hard time carrying the weight of judgment that I passed on myself whenever I found out that I wasn’t perfect at something. It didn’t matter if it was a kata I did in karate class, a project at work or just something as mundane as a dish I cooked for dinner, I would cringe at the idea that I needed to change anything. If you live in a place where you hold yourself to a standard of perfection, anything less than perfect in everybody’s eyes is going to be measured as a failure in your own heart. Anyone else out there ever live in that place?

About five years ago I attended an instructor training program in a form of yoga I had never taught before. I had already been teaching yoga for more than ten years at the time, but I challenged myself to enter the program with a total beginner’s mindset and in a place of humility. I told nobody in the group that I had any teaching experience. I tried to learn from the ground up. To my great good fortune the program was led by a fabulous woman named Megan Ducate. She taught me many wonderful things about yoga and about life. One of the most important things was this:

“When it comes to feedback, it’s important to remember two things: 1) always ask for permission to give before you offer it, and 2) receive it knowing that it is someone’s opinion of a moment in time and you can either accept it or reject it as you wish…”

That lesson alone was worth the investment of time and money in the instructor training. Ever since that day I have tried to be more kind to others in the way I offer feedback when given the opportunity to give it and to be more kind to myself when I receive it. What can I say?  I’m still a work in progress.

On Friday last week I got some feedback on something I had been working on. It wasn’t the feedback that I had expected or had hoped to hear. It started me on a path to that eternal question of “Am I good enough?” Now I will say that I received the feedback better than I would have a few years ago, but the weight of feeling judged put me in a place where I had a hard time navigating my life at all during the next 24 hours. Unfortunately for me, I had a full calendar and had little to no time to sit and reflect. I had to go about my schedule being as fully invested as I possibly could even though I was feeling broken inside. I did my best.

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I started to wake up in my normal positive mindset, but as quickly as I drifted out of the state of groggy I remembered the events of the day before. As a result of those memories, I started to feel like I was being pulled down into the whirlpool of “woe is me…” Now I’ve done a lot of work in my lifetime to come to the understanding that our thoughts and emotions create our own life path and that the stories that we tell ourselves create our own illusions and our illusions become our own realities. All that being said, it’s pretty hard to get out of the path of your own mental and energetic train wreck while it is already in progress.

Fortunately for me I had a previously scheduled early morning phone call with a friend to put in a little time on a joint project we are working on. During the course of that phone call my friend made a comment that they were frustrated that they weren’t making faster progress on their end of the project. I asked them why they felt that way because clearly I thought they were making great progress. What they told me next made me take a deeper look at my own mood and energy. What they told me was that one of their own family members asked them why they were even working on a project that they weren’t getting paid for and were making little if any progress at all on. The whole thing made my heart hurt for my friend. In the moment I immediately went to my support voice. I reminded  my friend that they were only person who held the power to pass judgement on themself. I referenced the book The Four Agreements where author Don Miguel Ruiz writes, “Don’t take anything personally. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality…”

And just like that I remembered that I needed to be reminded of the same message that I was offering as feedback to my friend in that moment in time. Don’t take anything personally….Always do you best and remember that your best is a sliding scale that does not necessarily ever approach perfect. I was grateful for the awakening.

As my day continued I felt lighter and lighter. I had a number of other interactions with other people during the day and in many cases I found myself referencing teachings I had found at the hands of the many mentors I have been fortunate enough to find in my lifetime. In every case those teachings were inclusive of awakenings that applied not only to the person I was speaking to but also to myself and they were awakenings I needed to be reminded of in the moment. Isn’t it funny how the Universe works in that fashion? We might not always get what we want, but we always get what we need…

unnamed-24Much later that night Christiana and I sat down to eat our homemade crab boil (which I clearly was good enough to make) and to watch When Harry Met Sally. Before we sat down, I checked my email one final time for the day. In my inbox was a random and unexpected email from someone who had taken one of the first ever workshops we led almost two years ago. The email went on to thank us for the work that we continue to do, for the way that we see the world on a daily basis and for reminding others to just keep doing their best no matter what the external circumstances. As I sat on the couch and read the email I began to weep. For most of the previous 24 hours I danced in the minefield between self doubt and self acceptance with irrational fear about stepping on a land mine. 

In that moment on my couch before our crab boil dinner and When Harry Met Sally, I was gifted the reminder that only I hold the power to pass judgment on myself. I remembered that if I do my best and allow for my best to be measured on a variable scale, that I am not only good enough, but that I am in fact perfect! Both my strengths and my flaws make me a piece of all that IS.

Someone asked me the other day if finding higher self love is our ultimate goal as humans? In a world where it is often said that the absence of fear is love and that the opposite of love is fear, I would say this…

Each day that I move closer to the understanding that I have the right to love myself exactly as I am, I move closer to living without fear. On this night I go to bed remembering that I am indeed “Good enough”….I go to bed with the deep sense of knowing that the better I love myself, the better I can to the most important thing it is that I do in this lifetime in this Universe. To Love all that IS exactly the way that it IS without judgment….

I am grateful for the awakening. 

 

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About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at www.emergingintojoy.com for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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One Response to Am I Good Enough?

  1. This post is an apt reminder of how powerful our thoughts can be. They fuel our emotions and can make or break our confidence. “I was feeling broken inside. I did my best.” Many of us were born and bred to believe that our best is never quite good enough. It’s almost as if someone took those parallel bars and moved them further apart, just beyond our reach. If we were criticized as a child, it is likely that we will grow up being resistant to it. We tend to forget it is one person’s opinion. My favorite from this post is: “I remembered that if I do my best and allow for my best to be measured on a variable scale, that I am not only good enough, but that I am in fact perfect! Both my strengths and my flaws make me a piece of all that IS.”

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