I – Am – Enough!
by Stephen Doherty
June 6th, 2021
“Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story
is the bravest thing we will ever do.” -Brené Brown
I have become convinced that the inability to embrace and love who and what we are – is at the root of most of our misery and unhappiness. The absence of self-love robs us of the ability to define our own purpose and pursue our own passions by relinquishing the pens to our own stories to external forces. We need only observe the world around us to see the forces arrayed against self-authorship of our own destinies. Our society and culture blasts a 24-7 message, to all of us, that we can only “be enough” if we (fill-in-the-blank).
For far too many people, the world is a giant mirror that casts false, distorted, or unrealistic images of what self-worth and success looks like. The paradoxical beauty of true self-love is the power we attain starting from our own self-defined baseline. We get to choose the things that we allow into our lives based on an entirely different standard measured more by integrated value than necessity. We cease needing things to complete us and pursue and embrace things that compliment us. The difference is stark.
Brené Brown authored the best-selling book, “Daring Greatly” in which she champions the concept of self-love and explores the consequences of its absence relative to the benefits and power of its presence. She also makes the overwhelmingly convincing case that the most successful path to self-love is through true vulnerability. This translates into a willingness to share greatly of ourselves with faith that, “because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world.” I can attest to the power of humility born of vulnerability as the path to self-love and confidence.
For too many years, my own self-image was merely a by-product of a life spent seeking pleasure over happiness. Pursuing materialism over strong values and convictions. Concerned more by the perceptions of others versus my own reality. In short, attempting to build my life’s foundation on a bed of shifting sand. Absent self-love, you can easily fall victim to virtually any promise of happiness and satisfaction. There simply is no external path to happiness.
There is an old African Proverb that says, “When there is no enemy within…the enemy outside can do us no harm.” The concept of “I am enough” does not preclude attempting to get better. In fact, I would argue that self-improvement, for those who love and respect themselves, brings into play an entirely different matrix of possibilities. The difference?
Your pursuits become an exercise in strengthening an already strong foundation – not trying to craft one. Our lives become dedicated to the pursuit of relationships that have at their core, trust and empathy as their driving force, which transforms vulnerability into a super-power. Face it. If you cannot be your own true and authentic self in the world you occupy? It’s time to seek out another planet.
Compared to past generations, we live in a time of unprecedented ease and comfort with an almost limitless supply of distractions and pursuits. Yet, by virtually every measure, we’ve never been more miserable. How can that be? How is that even possible? It’s not only possible, it seems almost predictable – even inevitable.
I would argue that the single worst mistake anyone can make – ever, is comparing themselves to the infinite number of other people in their lives. The famous poem, Desiderata – nails it with this simple but powerful and poignant passage. “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter because there will always be great and lesser persons than yourself.”
The happiest and most content people I have ever known are the ones who have learned to gauge their own value and self worth from the reflections of their own heart and soul – not the rest of the world. As Brené Brown concludes, “Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
We’re happy when we’re loved. We’re happiest when the source of that love is…us.
“Who looks outside, dreams – but who looks inside – awakens.” —Carl Jung