In a recent text exchange with a friend about big life topics, he said, completely unprovoked, “I have so much room for improvement.”
It struck me because when I look at him, I only see a trove of admirable and enviable attributes. I replied, “Sure, we all think that. But you already have a ton of incredible strengths and maybe you should capitalize on those.” He thanked me for the reminder.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we need reminders? All day we forget about or downplay our strengths because we’re bombarded by both overt and sneaky messages that we aren’t enough. (insert your own brand of “enough” here – wealthy, thin, happy, strong, social-media famous, productive, organized…)
We put so much energy into what we’re not, and without realizing it, our limited energy pours into these perceived deficits, and we neglect our abundance.
In the book “Big Magic,” Elizabeth Gilbert writes about creativity and abundance. She says, “…continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you is a fine art in and of itself.”
I love this because it acknowledges the boundless beauty, capability and strength inside of us. We don’t need to go mining for it in some other cave. Our job is to be disciplined, curious and present. We need to be tenacious in our pursuit of unearthing our existing amazingness.
The quickest way to suck the abundance out of your gorgeous kingdom is to peek over at someone else’s kingdom and assume it needs to look like theirs. Stop it!
None of us are immune to comparison.
Comparison is part of being human and making sense of our world. We compare ourselves to other people. We compare ourselves to previous versions of ourselves. We compare ourselves to a non-existent self we think people expect us to be. So we alter ourselves. We show up in ways we assume will please others. We fake it to fit in. All of this exacerbates the heavy “not-enoughness” we carry around.
Just the other morning, I ruminated on how I weighed five pounds less a few months ago, and how much cooler I’d probably be if I lost five tiny pounds. What?!? Later, I went for a walk and admired the vibrant, healthy lawns in my neighborhood, then reflected on how everyone surely believes I’m a terrible person because my lawn has more patches of dirt than grass. Come on.
News flash: no one is thinking about you as much as you are. They’re too busy thinking about themselves, their own lawns and their own cute IPA pounds.
My current experiment is to spend less time worrying about what I’m NOT and instead, flex the muscles of what I already AM. Let’s try it…
- I’m not a master grass-grower, but I arranged flowers in pretty pots to add life to my outdoor space
- My belly rolls keep my mega-strong abs insulated
- I’m not a world-famous author, but I have the practice of writing every day
Stuff like that. Jewels. Feels a little daunting and self-indulgent…but I’m committed to trying.
What would it look like for you to focus on who you ARE rather than fixing/improving/seeking the things you’re NOT?
Having trouble figuring out what your jewels are?
- Pay attention during the day. What projects, people and tasks give you bursts of energy? Which ones take it away? Your bod is trying to tell you something.
- When you find yourself comparing, recite a fact that makes you feel good about who and where you are. (see my examples above)
- When you feel like your truest, in-the-zonest self, what are you doing? Where are you? Are you alone or with other people? Are you outside or in? What time of day is it? What’s the weather? Get curious about the environments that fire you up. What words describe that feeling?
- Who is the person who knows you best? How would they describe your jewels? Shoot them a quick text and ask.
Put these on a list and lean on them when the not-enoughness seeps in.
There will always be endless things to learn and be and do. I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive, but get curious about WHY you’re doing it. Are you doing it to fill a void or to make yourself look cool to the outside world? Are you doing it because you think it’s what other people want? Instead of coming at it from a place of deficit, find your existing abundance and make a choice from there.
Your jewels are sparkly. Get stubborn about showing them off! Stop taking the shine off them by being something you’re not.