The more time I spend with the mantra for this week My Best Is Good Enough the more I think...Why does good enough feel like a swear word? I'm not sure if it's the relationship American culture has with good enough, or my families relationship with it, or the worlds. But when I say it I hear- BULLSHIT! Then I have an argument with myself thank goes something like this- My Best Is Good "enough", trying and failing is really succeeding, getting back up (eventually) from a big failure is a win and I do believe this, but at the same time I'm hearing my cultural message of - really?
Where does this idea come from? And is where it comes from really important?
Where does it come from?
Probably everywhere: your family of origin; religion (which at least in Christianity seems a strange notion, because Jesus wasn't hanging out with the "successful" people he was happily hanging out with what his culture considered the riff-raff); education (which again is some real bullshit! I'm going to teach you and you need to learn what I teach you on the 1st go or at the very least the 2nd which works for maybe 1% of kids. I am not one of those learners); culture (when I say culture I am referring to what I know as a cis white woman); employment (which is similar to education).
And does it matter? I think it matters in the sense that it is affecting us, but for myself, I am more interested in how to unravel a mindset that is so resistant to learning, which is found in FAILING!
And what is my BEST? My best may look like someone else's worst. So who and what am I measuring myself by? If it is the above family, religion, education, culture, and employment then what can I do about it?
We begin by taking stoke:
What did your grandparents and extended family communicate to you about your best, good enough, or failure?
What did school teachers, music teachers, coaches, priests, rabbi's, Imam's, etc. communicate?
How did you as a child hear/receive constructive criticism? (learning your Enneagram type and studying your type can help you sort through some of this easier)
How do you hear/receive constructive criticism now? (It might be a combination of your personality, how you grew up, your relationship with conflict, and your ability or inability to own what you do)
Next sit with that list:
How do you feel?
Are your reactions to this list kind? And by kind I mean a combination of kind and fair to yourself and where you can be kind/fair to others. This does not mean you can't or shouldn't feel angry where people shamed and exploited you for what they saw as weakness.
Sit with these feelings of rage, anger, fear, disapproval, sorrow, etc. for as long as you can. Try and get comfortable with what you can't control in yourself IE. your Best being good enough.
Forgive yourself for holding yourself up to someone else's ridiculously high standards for you.
Forgive yourself for self-hatred.
Forgive yourself for unrealistic standards.
Forgive yourself for believing the lies that others told you about success and failure.
Forgive yourself for not taking risks.
Forgive yourself for brutal inner dialog.
Try and practice a posture of Loving-kindness with yourself.
My practice is to lean into love of myself. Whatever my thoughts are saying...You are a failure! You are a piece of shit! You suck! You are unlovable!
That may be how I'm feeling in that moment, but at the same time as I'm feeling those BIG painful feelings, I am practicing a posture of gentle questioning...
Is this true? Is it helpful? Will it produce love continuing in this frame of mind?
Even if I feel it's true in the moment, what good is it doing me to believe it? It's not helping me love myself, my partner, my children, my friends, strangers, better. What it's doing is corroding my head-to-heart connection and getting me stuck in a cycle of self. And frankly, I spend enough time there already.
When I practice a posture of loving-kindness I'm saying- Yes, I feel XYZ, but what is the truth? And then I speak that truth out, even if I don't feel it yet.
I feel like a failure!
Feeling: When I was teaching that workshop I talked too much and spent so much time agonizing about whether they'd hit their target that I missed all those teachable moments.
Response to my feeling: I see you feelings of failure. I don't like how I feel right now and I wish I could make you go away. I also realize that just because I feel like a failure doesn't make me a failure or unlovable. I want to trust myself that I can build a more loving response to these feelings. It may not be today but I'm practicing and trusting that eventually, self-hatred won't be my first response.
As we do this practice regularly we will begin to see how these feelings of negativity that we have towards ourselves only serve as a distraction. This distraction tends to prevent us from owning our behaviors these behaviors need to be owned. And when we stay locked in this cycle of self-abuse it cuts us off from living in the fullness of who we really are and all its mess.
The bottom line is life is messy and your best is absolutely GOOD enough.