Why You Think You Suck at Life
This morning, I had a conversation with the sort of woman who other women look at and wish they could be. She’s successful, wildly beautiful, and everyone not only likes her, they admire her. During our talk, she confessed that she hardly slept the night before, because in addition to feeling stressed from the events in the day, she’d gotten into it with her sons and, finally, outright declared that she was a horrible mother (which her sons adamantly refuted). She showed me her color-coded schedule and said that, while she makes plans for the day, she can never get them done because a million other things come up.
What it all came down to was this: She felt like she could never do enough.
This is a huge problem, and it’s one that stems from our culture: We can never do enough, and what that means, then, is we can never be enough. We are sold images of the successful professional in a fancy suit, always on the go, and winning at life. Images of “the grind” or “the hustle” are celebrated on social media, as we’re taught to believe that we’ll sleep when we’re dead, and if we’re not getting things done, we’re wasting our time. We’re so busy, so caught up in the never-ending rush of life, that we miss the point entirely: We’re doing a great job, even when we feel like we’re not.
Why is it that it’s always the smartest, most hard-working and loving people who feel like they need to give more? Lazy, mean people are forever content with their amount of effort, even when it’s non-existent. Yet, for some reason, the more we achieve, the more we beat ourselves up for not achieving. The more we do, the more we complain we’re not getting done. It’s a vicious cycle. Our minds tell us we suck, because we’re caught in the endless loop of the mind. Even when we give 150%, we can’t see it, much less celebrate our victorious effort, because there’s always so much to be done.
Here’s the key: The mind is always looking for more, and it always shines a light on lack - what’s not getting done and what it doesn’t have. This is how the ego functions. Our minds love to beat us up, tell us we’re not enough, and focus on everything we’re doing wrong instead of everything we’re doing right.
So, the secret to happiness, then, is to understand that when thoughts such as, I had such an unproductive day arise, we can choose to observe them, without judgement, and detach from them. We can understand that many of our thought patterns are habitual, and in order to think new thoughts, we have to first become aware of the ridiculous nature of our present ones. We need to shine a light on our not-enoughness.
As we learn to catch ourselves when we tell the same story, as we’re ranting to ourselves about how we did such a crummy job that day, and how if only we worked more, had better organized closets, and did more cardio, then we’d be happy, we’ll finally be free of the mean-spirited side of ourselves that only wants to point out all the things we haven’t done. As we become present to that voice, it begins to soften, because shining a light on it means that it’s just a matter of time before it shifts to being a voice of celebration, of gratitude, and of profound, unconditional self-love. The voice that tells us we suck at life, with enough presence, can tell us that we’re doing great, and that our good intentions and continued effort are more than enough.