The most common problem I’ve found in the people I’ve coached and worked with in my programs is a very fundamental problem:
Most people have the feeling that something is wrong with them. And it is heartbreaking.
Actually, most people would say that their problem is that they want to be more disciplined, more focused, better at sticking to their health habits, better at finances, more mindful … so more of something, or better at something else.
But underlying all of that is the feeling that something is wrong with us.
We are not disciplined enough. We’re not focused enough. We’re not fit enough. We’re not mindful enough. We’re not organized enough. We’re not good enough. We’re not enough. We’re never enough.
It breaks our heart, because we try our best, but we come up short. All of our efforts can’t solve the fundamental flaws in us, the parts that will never be good enough. There are parts of us we don’t want to face, that we don’t like, that we don’t want anyone to see. And so we hide it, cover it up with activity that shows how great we are. Maybe if we show how awesome we are, no one will notice the shameful parts.
The most heartbreaking thing is that nothing could be farther from the truth. Nothing is wrong with us. We are whole, we are good-hearted, we are beautiful and full of love.
In this article, I’ll offer a few ways to work with this heartbreaking delusion.
We form this feeling sometime in childhood or our teenage years — before this, we thought we were awesome and we felt whole with the world.
But somewhere, we got the message that we should be more. We should work harder, be more disciplined, be more beautiful, be better.
It came from parents, other relatives, school, peers, media, church. Everyone gave us this message, because everyone has bought into the fundamental agreement that we all should be better, more productive, more of everything.
It’s rooted in religion, in consumerism, in the fundamental fabric of our society.
It’s a flawed message, but it’s everywhere. We can feel it when we open social media and see all the ways other people are doing or looking better than us. That makes us feel worse, and reinforces our belief in our flawedness.
There’s nothing wrong with us. We’re not “perfect,” but any idea of perfect is based on some ideal, some set of expectations that have been created and that only serve to make us feel less than.
We’re not perfect, but we’re not flawed. We are good at our core. We are the embodiment of love. We are whole with the universe, if only we could see it.
Take yourself back to when you were six or seven years old, and you felt amazing. Maybe not all the time, but there were moments when you felt awesome. You were playing, imagining, creating, connecting with others or the world around you, full of joy and wonder and life.
This is the feeling of wholeness with the world, with yourself. It’s still there, inside you, but it’s covered in all the agreements you’ve taken in from the world around you that you’re flawed. Those agreements have been reinforced and taken as covenants, but we can break them and form new agreements.
The most important new agreement is that you are whole, you are love, you are good-hearted.
So how do we start to shift? One small action at a time, we break the old agreements and start to form new ones.
Here are some powerful ways to start that shift — note that these aren’t steps in order, but different ways you can work with the feeling of something being wrong with you:
As you can see, the place of feeling that something is wrong with you is just a starting place. You can use it to transform, to find gentleness and friendliness, to find compassion, to open to the moment, to see your basic goodness. You can use it to open yourself to curiosity, possibility, not-knowing, creativity, exploration, wonder and love.
“I wish I could show you…the astonishing light of your own being.”
Originally published on Zenhabits.net.
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