I have often felt the yearning of wanting to matter, and I’m not saying, since working as a Life Coach, that’s all been ‘solved’, rather, I now see what’s really going on.
Many of my clients have similar experiences. They’re struggling to believe they are enough. They have a drive to be extraordinary, and a deep fear that they are the opposite.
If it was sufficient for people to tell us that we do matter, that we are enough, and we truly are extraordinary, then all this shame-faced fear of lacking wouldn’t really be around all that much. At least once, some person has told us we are loved, we do have an important impact on their lives, we are significant. Maybe there is a feeling of satisfaction for a moment, a day, and then slowly the craving begins again.
I’m not immune to this craving. I still notice fear about the work I do, the plans I have for my career. Yet, my life is very different to how it was.
So, what changed?
Sometimes, I do wake up, wondering if I’m enough. The difference is what I do next.
I’m not saying that when I hear the words, ‘no one cares about what you do,’ I start to sing, the sun comes out, and a bird lands on my shoulders, kisses my cheek and we both laugh. No, the difference is simply noticing those words and the effect they are having – usually a lump in my belly. Depending on how resilient I’m feeling – whether I’ve slept well, had a good meal, etc. – this can either go on for seconds, minutes or hours.
It’s the equivalent of having someone yelling in the room with me. Firstly, I don’t notice – all I know is that suddenly I don’t feel so great, and it feels a lot harder to do things. So, I decide to take a look around. That’s when I discover the lump in my belly, and realise that there is a person yelling about how little people care.
It might be that I can’t help myself, so I start yelling back. This is the moment in this drama when we give ourselves a hard time, for having a hard time. Recognise this; the times you beat yourself up for not yet having got around to sending that email, or exercising, or eating healthier, or loving better?
Here’s where I stop. Check myself. Have a look at who I am, where I am. Draw breath.
I realise that this person, yelling, is just yelling. The words are not directed at me. This is the key: it is the difference between hearing a voice saying, ‘no one cares’ and thinking it’s talking to you, and hearing someone say those words about themselves.
The former can bring shame, depression, fear, but the latter is different. Imagine how you would react to someone else’s struggle to matter? In this case, our compassion is triggered, our capacity to love. We wouldn’t yell at this person, we would hold them. So, really what we discover in the moment is that we have stopped caring about ourselves.
Stepping back and viewing things in this way means that now I have an opportunity to practice running love through my veins. When I am holding this softness for myself, questions about mattering, being enough are finally met in the way they always wanted. I take hold of myself in my own arms and things become possible once more.