It's a line I heard on a video my therapist suggested I listen to after I went to see her recently. I'd been feeling so down following the publication of my essay that ran in Ms. Magazine last month, and I couldn't shake it off. After we talked, she gave me some homework to do, and also the above link to listen to Brene Brown's talk on vulnerability. She wouldn't say anything more about the video than that I should listen to it, that it lightens her mood when she does. So I went home and listened to it.
That first time, the only thing I heard from it was this one line:
"I am enough."
And that was enough for me then.
It was exactly the phrase I needed to hear at that time. "I am enough." I needed to relearn this line. I wasn't taught this as a young girl. I've had to teach it to myself, and sometimes I misplace my ability to believe in myself. It's not a good loss to experience. In fact, it's downright awful. And, unfortunately, some of that sadness that I took with me to my therapist's office is still holding on.
That led me to go over some of the other lies I've been telling myself that would suggest I'm anything but enough. (If you read the Ms. Magazine essay you'll know what I'm talking about when I refer to the lies we tell ourselves--they come from the past. I'm reading a book right now that promises to teach me how to recast those lies, or those memories.), and I realized it's time for affirmation.
I need to remind myself that, although I may be making mistakes in my life, I am not one big bag of mistakes myself. I can learn from where I've messed up. I can stop messing up. And I can move forward. But not without believing in myself first.
So I listened again to Brene Brown's TED talk. This time, I heard more of what I needed to hear, and I realized I'm actually doing okay. I am actually enough. I am worthy of love and connection. I already have it in my relationships with my children and my boyfriend. I do, indeed, have love and connection with others. Amen! If you've ever felt otherwise, even for a little bit, you'll know why that gets bold praise.
And in Brown's presentation about vulnerability, she gets to the heart of the matter. Literally. She says that the thought that you are not enough comes from shame. You fear that others will not like you if they really knew who you were. You fear to let others in. You fear to let others see your flaws. So you put on a show for them. You pretend you are something you are not because you hope they'll like you better that way.
Nuh-uh. Brown says that's not the way it works and goes on to say something I found quite interesting:
"The only people who cannot experience shame are those people who have no capacity for human empathy or connection."Brown's own research taught her that the people who exhibit a strong sense of love and belonging are the people who believe they are worthy of love and belonging. She calls these people, who she says exhibit a sense of courage, "wholehearted." They are the people who are willing to tell the story of who they are with their whole heart. They are okay with being imperfect. They are compassionate, first to themselves, so they can be kind to others. And they embrace their vulnerability, seeing it as a necessary part of life, making them able to be the first to say, "I love you," even when there is no return guarantee. They take the chance, because they believe they are worthy of it.
If you want to live from a place that says, "I am enough," if you want to become a kinder and gentler person to yourself and others, here is how Brown says you can do it:
- Let yourself be seen.
- Be vulnerable.
- Love with your whole heart, even without guarantee.
- Practice gratitude and joy, even in moments of terror.
- Believe that you are enough.