This week I read a blog post from a fabulous writer, Karen, who I met at a retreat last year. She made a statement that has resonated with me all week about feeling less than. I can’t seem to get these thoughts out of my head so I feel compelled to write about it.
The real trouble comes from what we are using as a measurement stick and I think for most of us it is perfection so it’s no small wonder that we consistently fall short. It’s sad that we spend so much time feeling less than ~ we did not accomplish what we had hoped for at the office ~ we didn’t look our best or as good as others ~ our house is messy or disorganized and far below the standard ~ we didn’t say the right things ~ we didn’t do the right things and the list goes on and on and on. We’re constantly comparing and criticizing ourselves for being less than.
I’ve done a lot of reading about perfection, clearly not because I feel that I’m perfect but because I feel so utterly imperfect and dissatisfied with myself. Many of us live by the misguided belief that when we are hard on ourselves, we are motivated to improve and keep growing and if we show ourselves compassion and understanding that we will simply make excuses for our behavior and stagnate. Kristen Neff’s book on Self Compassion argues that the fear of being negatively judged (by ourselves or others) can be debilitating and we can become healthier and more productive by being mindful of and acknowledging our suffering and treating ourselves in a kinder, more positive, compassionate manner. It’s not about making excuses, it’s about seeing the human experience more clearly and making ourselves feel calmer, more secure, more confident. This approach takes a lot of practice to change self-critical talk that we’ve spent our entire lives refining.
Especially this week I’ve been noticing how often I feel less than and how I react when I feel less than. It’s actually quite a terrible feeling; I’ve been wondering what triggers it. Can someone make you feel less than? Certainly there are people in life who make themselves feel better by putting others down with the hopes of making themselves look or feel better in comparison. More often, though, I think that we put this less than feeling on ourselves ~ it’s our own insecurities that cause us to inferior. So why do we feel better, more comfortable maybe, with some people and not others? And even more importantly, how to I become a person who others feel calmer, secure and confident when they are around me? I want to feel like I am enough, just as I am and I want others to feel the same way.
It seems like there has been a movement to help beautiful strong women break through the lies we consistently tell ourselves and and feel like we are truly enough through the Brave Girls Club, the fabulous Tracey Clark, and I love love love the Tiny Buddha. All of these recognize that there are so many people feeling the same same way and struggling with those same issues.
As I’m learning to be kinder, gentler with myself and others, I’ve uncovered a lot of past hurts. There’s a lot of healing that needs to take place. I also find myself pondering how to best live this life and who I do or do not want in my life. I’m learning to stop when I’m in an icky place and try to figure out exactly what I’m feeling and why I’m feeling it. I’m also learning to trust myself. Most importantly I’m learning that I am doing my best and my best is always enough.