I AM ENOUGH!

Morrie Schwartz

I think a lot of people beat up on themselves, punish themselves emotionally because they’re “not good enough” or they haven’t done enough. They berate themselves for not living up to their own or somebody else’s expectations or for not having taken a different route in life or for not getting better grades in school or a better job . . . . Once you get into that state of mind, you continue to be mean to yourself and hurt yourself in ways you may not even be aware of. It’s very important to be kind and loving to yourself. You’re the only self you’ve got, so to speak. Befriend yourself in the same way you feel compassionate and gentle with other people. If you practice the principles of grieving, accepting, and forgiving yourself, you will be making a start in that direction. Morrie Schwartz

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It is so easy to find fault with ourselves. Many of us have a PhD in Self Incrimination and Degradation. We could’ve, should’ve and would’ve ourselves into self hatred and loathing. And in so doing, we mark ourselves as losers in the game of life. This sense of not being good enough can affect us mentally, spiritually and even physically. In the same way that emotional stress and worry can cause ulcers, medicine can now demonstrate that there is a direct connection between how we think about ourselves and our overall physical health. Auto-immune diseases, heart disease, and even cancers have been shown to have a psychological component. And once we let ourselves slide into the abyss of self-deprecation, the challenge to rise out of it is formidable.

I’ve heard from a young age that ‘to err is human.’ and it’s true. I cannot be right 100% of the time. It’s impossible. There’s no way that I can know all of the variables that create perfection. It’s important to give yourself a break. You can’t do it all and you can’t win every time; you really are only human. One my favourite definitions of success reminds me I only need pick myself up off the ground one more time than I’ve fallen in order to finish the hike. So forgive yourself. Give yourself a pass on this one, stand up and move forward.

Expectations are not results.

Every scientist tests a new theory with experiments. Sometimes the results confirm the expectations of the scientist, and sometimes they disprove the theory. I’ve learned to plan for the best outcome and at the same time keep myself aware that my expectations may not materialize. If something didn’t work out as expected, that is a reflection of the process, not on me personally. And then I can change what I’m doing because I know that the last way didn’t cut it. Would we still be in the dark if Thomas Edison stopped his light bulb experiments at 9,999 attempts?

I am enough!”

I have this written on my washroom mirror. It is a reminder that I am fine, just the way I am. I am not the work I do or the people I know. I don’t need anything else today. The mirror artistry is a powerful suggestion from Marisa Peer, a hypnotherapist from Britain. Much of her teaching is based on the truth that many people mistakenly believe that they fall short in some way or other. “I am enough” is a reminder to me that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone else or even to myself. Yes, “I am enough“, just as I am!

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Saying it once, isn’t sufficient. We have to say it over and over to reinforce this new belief and to destroy the old tracks that say otherwise. These recorded tracks that have been in place for decades don’t rewrite themselves overnight; scratch the record enough and it can never be played again. That’s why we need the constant reminder to reinforce this new attitude because we all, despite the challenges of the day, deserve a break. And a greater sense of self-worth can do a great deal to maintain and help heal us physically, mentally and spiritually. Enough with the regrets. We can give ourselves the benefit of any doubt.

Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. You really are Enough!

Emergence

Slowly, very slowly, the world is rediscovering itself. We have gone through over a year of quarantine, lock-down and isolation. This is one of the few, perhaps the only news items that has touched literally every continent, country and county on Earth. More people on the planet know about Covid 19 than know about the Pope, US president or, dare I say, Cher. As a result, I believe that nothing will have a greater impact on those of us who have lived through this than any known global event. It has changed us in so many way. For me, one thing is certain: this has changed our social relations forever.

There has always existed distrust of others, especially strangers. It’s a protection mechanism that’s wired into our DNA. We hold back initially, until we feel more secure. However, now there is a fear of being physically close to people, even people we know because they ‘might’ be carriers of this virus. People’s anxiety levels have risen. In an effort to keep ourselves informed, many of us have become over informed and have heard so many opinions that we don’t know where to turn. This has been a year that has upended so many social conventions and regular norms that our social emergence and rediscovery will be long. It will take a long while before we can feel comfortable again in our own skin, let alone being close to the skin of others. We have spent a year looking only into the eyes of people that we see on the street, in the shops and at work. We’ve often had to guess the reactions of others from only the upper part of their face. Many times I realized that the polite smile I was offering to people on the street or in the grocery store was shielded by my facemask.

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I know I am not alone in the feeling that my personal space has been ‘violated’ more often this year but that’s because my sense of what is a ‘proper distance’ has changed. People we would have given a hug to in the past now receive a polite nod, an elbow bump, perhaps a bowing reverence. We screen who we allow into our homes. We screen places where we must enter asking ourselves if they really have ‘disinfected’ the place and wondering exactly how they did it. Do I have my facemask on correctly, have I sanitized my hands with washing or alcohol? I can’t imagine the challenge for parents of young children who are want to touch and lick almost everything they see. I’m sure some children think their real name is ‘Don’ttouch’ and ‘Keepoff’.

As time has passed most of us have come to terms with the health precautions and we have adapted ourselves to what we consider our own personal level of risk. While I haven’t returned to being the hugger that I used to be, I do hug some people who are close and with whom I feel a level of comfort. And I am perfectly fine with others choosing their own level of comfort. It’s a very personal and family choice. While I don’t feel it’s yet time to get rid of the masks, it’s not my job to go about policing others in their choices. Most of the members at the gym I attend do not wear a facemask while working out. It’s not mandatory here. The staff has opted to wear masks and so have I. And that is okay. If it really bothers me, I have the option of not going to that gym. I don’t have to impose my will or what I think is the ‘correct’ thing to do. Same thing at our twelve step meetings. We sit ‘socially distanced’ and it’s up to the individual whether or not they choose to wear masks. It’s not up to me to judge the actions of others. My opinion is not necessary and not necessarily wanted.

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I suspect that even after we receive the ‘all clear’, if we ever do, there will be people who will continue to wear a facemask when out in public. That is their choice. It wasn’t that uncommon to see a person in the streets wearing one before the pandemic. How we greet others in the future will probably not go back to the effusive hugs and kisses for most people either, which for some will be a great relief anyway. Our sense of personal space will also be much greater for many years to come, especially when meeting someone new.

Give people time to adjust to their new sense of what’s right, appropriate and comfortable, even with families and close friends. Our sense of trust has been altered, perhaps for the next generation. We will need to be sensitive to the needs of others and learn to pick up on new social cues as to what others are comfortable with. It’s probably a good idea to ask before lunging in for a hug. If you’d like a hug, ask for one.

Humans need physical touch to thrive. These past 14 months have put a great strain on everyone, all around the world. It’s going to be a long while too before we adjust to these changes in how we relate to each other in this new emergence into post-Covid living.

Without Fear

The Fourth Step of recovery asks us to take a ‘fearless and thorough moral inventory’ of ourselves. I didn’t really want to do a Fourth Step for two main reasons. First, I had never done anything like that  before and second, I was kind of afraid of what I might find if I looked to deep into myself. After all, I had spent so many years and a lot of my resources doing my best to avoid finding out who I really was and where I was in life. Knowing who I was and how I functioned, that place deep down inside me was not a place I wanted to go. 

And I knew I had to.

I had seen the results of the program in other people. I had been to a good number of speaker meetings so I heard the stories of what it was like, what happened and how things were now. There were a couple of men in particular, one of whom was my first sponsor, and it seemed impossible to relate who he was before to who he is in recovery. And it was by working the program that he achieved this impressive change in who he was.

And I wanted that change in me too.

One of the things that happens in early recovery, when your main pursuit is no longer to escape, is that you have to face life as it comes. And you relate to it pretty much in the same way you used to but now without the cushion of a drink or a pill that helped to soften the sharp edges of challenges in life. And just like the acronym, S.O.B.E.R., Son Of a Bitch, Everything’s Real, I was discovering that my skills here were sorely lacking. Along with this I was discovering that my interpersonal skill in relating to others were also falling short: I could really be a jerk.

I needed to follow the program and that included the “Fearless moral inventory”.

I often say that it took me six months and two days to complete my Fourth Step. Six months for hemming and stewing and worrying, and two days of actually sitting down and writing it out. I thought of ‘fearless’ as being like a soldier of the Light Brigade. I had to put out my chest and valiantly face my past, come what may. However, when I read it in Spanish, it translates to simply, ‘without fear’.  There was no great nobility infused into what I was about to do. I was just to do it honestly and calmly without letting my fears stop me.

It wasn’t so much ‘fearless’ as it was ‘without fear’.

There was no great feat of prowess in my Fourth Step. The change in translation removed it and took it back to what it was. Just like the shop keeper doing an inventory of goods, I was finally taking a deep look at myself and seeing what was there. Who was I? What was I really like? What are my assets and my liabilities? In my attempts to understand the program I had forgotten the simple truth: trust this simple program for complicated minds. I just had to put my fear aside when doing the Fourth Step, and I would be fine.