First published on Huffington Post, 2010-12-01
More than a year ago a good friend sent me an email that I’ve saved in my inbox. Every now and then I open it. It always makes me smile. She wrote: “Just a reminder, in case you forget: You are perfect in every way. Say it. Know it. Feel it.” I can’t remember what prompted her email, but most likely she noticed I was caught up in self-doubt, as occasionally happens. When expectations are high, deadlines are looming, and my responsibilities are piling up, I tend to get anxious, overwhelmed and unsure of myself, which is exactly the opposite of what’s needed. Feeling inadequate is generally a success-killer.
We all suffer from insecurity at times, but when our internal dialogue turns nasty and mean, it undermines our happiness and our ability to grow and succeed. For me, the chain often starts with a vague sense that I’m not getting enough done, even though I am “doing” all the time. I’m the mother of two boys. I’m a wife. I work full-time, and then some. I’m the cook, the grocery shopper, the house cleaner, the homework assistant, the arbiter of my son’s Xbox screen time. I’m a busy woman! But, to my internal critic, it is never enough. We beat ourselves up for the foolish things we do, the unhealthy habits, the judgmental thoughts, the imperfections. Soon we find ourselves carrying around a big ball of self-loathing, which can be a real pain.
In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz writes, “Humans punish themselves endlessly for not being what they believe they should be.” So why are we constantly trying to be more than we are? Why isn’t this good enough? How do we change our self-loathing into self-love?
Recognizing the illusion of our egoic thoughts is a start. Eckhart Tolle describes it this way, “Behind every negative self-concept is the hidden desire of being the greatest or better than others …. Whenever you feel superior or inferior to anyone, that’s the ego in you.” Being conscious of the voice of our ego is how we release ourselves from the prison of self-judgment and blame. Our true essence is so much deeper than what our ego would have us believe.
We are more than our to-do lists, more than our personalities, more than our bodies or the roles we play in life. We are spiritual beings. We are the physical expression of spiritual power. The late author, metaphysician and theologian Eric Butterworth told us to sing our song of wholeness. He wrote: “Take time to be still and listen to the beat of your heart and feel the throb of your pulse. The universe is celebrating itself in you as an instrument of life. It is singing itself into your soul, saying, ‘You are alive, you are whole, and you are being healed and renewed in a constant rhapsody of life.'”
Imagine how we would live if we believed we were enough, if we were no longer comparing ourselves to others or judging ourselves on some arbitrary scale of bad and good, better and best. We loosen the grip of our inner critic by simply becoming aware of its influence. We don’t need to argue or resist the negative thoughts — just notice them, and affirm the truth as a counterbalance. Every time a thought of shame, guilt, disgust or mild irritation enters our minds, we recognize it and weaken its ability to take hold of our perception. We deny the lie that our egos would have us believe and affirm the truth that we are whole and perfect, just the way we are.
A recent daily message in Daily Word, the magazine for which I serve as editor, suggests the following way out of self-doubt: “I can consciously stop the negative talk in my mind and begin a new kind of conversation. I remember that I am a whole, shining, beloved child of God with unlimited potential. Nothing stops me but my own worries and fears. I have everything I need to succeed through the wisdom and power of God within me.”
When my friend wrote me that note about being perfect, she wasn’t saying I could never make a mistake. She was saying she saw the real me — the divine spark within, the song of my wholeness, my indwelling Christ nature — and she wanted me to see it too.
When we have found peace within ourselves and made peace with our bodies, our skills, our strengths and our weaknesses, we have the key to living happy and fulfilling lives. We just have to stop believing every thought that runs through our minds and start believing the truth of our innate wholeness. We are good enough just as we are.