Look in the mirror and what do you see? A person who is striving for perfection or one who can accept themselves as is? Someone who isn’t tall enough, thin enough, attractive enough, smart enough, wealthy enough, or one who is, as Baby Bear might have put it, ‘just right’?
A therapist tells the story of being asked a simple question by another therapist who happened to be a dear friend. She was fretting over some impactful life decisions she was facing and having a difficult time finding the ideal answer. Her friend leaned in toward her and asked if she could love and accept herself AS IS. She responded that she guessed she had to. Her persistent friend continued until she agreed. When she got home, she printed out the words “AS IS” and placed it on a wall in her office and whenever clients would ask her about it, she would challenge them to love and accept themselves. When she left that job, she placed the paper in a box with books and other assorted office stuff. When she unpacked, she saw that the paper was crumpled. She was temped to print out another one and then had the revelation that the paper represented the way we are all a bit crumpled and worn down by life. Her new clients had an even more powerful teaching tool at their disposal.
Inner examination and a heavy dose of self-acceptance creates a sense of ‘enoughness’. When we compare ourselves to others, the chances are pretty good that we will find ourselves wanting. Wanting approval. Wanting acceptance. Wanting affirmation. We imagine that other person as someone who presents as having it all together. Chances are, they have moments when they feel as uncertain as we do. If you could see thought bubbles above people’s heads as they walk down the street, it is a certainty that you would see countless self-doubting narratives and words of regret about the past or worry about the future. Most of us are not living in the here and now, most of the time.
Recently, a book came to my attention called A life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough, written by Wayne Muller who is an author, minister, therapist, and speaker. It is a wonderful guidebook through the maze of human experience and an ideal antidote to the feeling of lack and limitation.
Muller speaks of the concept of the next right thing:
“We make only one choice. Throughout our lives we do only one thing—again and again, moment by moment, year by year. It is how we live our days, and it is how we shape our lives. The choice is this: what is the next right thing for us to do?”
Take aent to contemplate a situation that is looming large in your life. It may be something you have been chewing on for years or it could be a question that is fresh and recent. Ask yourself, without going into a tailspin or down a rabbit hole, what is that next step? Listen for the response. Chances are, it will come from your intuition rather than your second-guessing mind. Take that step as boldly as you are able and follow it through. When you do the next right thing, it will be enough for the moment at least, and so will you.
“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.” ―Germany Kent