Are you tired of grappling with this demon? I am.
When I was a little girl being raised by what was then considered elderly Italian parents (having a kid in your 40s is so not the same nowadays), I felt isolated and alone most of the time. Don’t get me wrong my parents provided well and I didn’t want for the necessities of life, but emotional intelligence was not on offer. How could it be when they were never provided it either. Despite having three older sisters; their seven, twelve and fifteen years my senior meant that I spent most of my time alone at home with my very old fashioned and dare I say outdated mamma and pappa kettle. I remember being surrounded constantly with complaining and negativity and at a very young age learned that this was ‘life’ and quickly there after that ordinary life sucked!
I wanted extraordinary, I wanted to have better, be better and do better – but when you’re not even old enough to hold down a part-time job the idea of striking out on your own can be daunting, if not downright insane! So I waited for my chance all the while growing in contempt of my surroundings and drinking from the well of not good enough. It started with me not being good enough because the kids at school said I was too fat to be good enough. My parents weren’t good enough because I judged their way of life as small and unworthy and downright embarrassing as a teen. My life wasn’t good enough because it was boring and uneventful. I didn’t do well in math class so there was another area I wasn’t good enough in. You get the picture. I piled a lifetime of not good enough on my plate so high that it became my primary driver in life – GET GOOD ENOUGH AT ALL COSTS!
But how do you know when you’ve arrived?
How do you know when good enough is actually GOOD. ENOUGH.? Is it when you’re skinny enough? Is it when you’ve earned a PhD? Is it when you’re published? Is it when you get a promotion? Hit your first six figures? Find the love of your life? WHEN is it enough?
The dirty little secret is that it never is enough, and while this driver can have an upside, being the catalyst to achieving great things, eventually you get to the point when you wake up exhausted because you never quite arrive at this elusive destination. That proverbial carrot on the stick feels like it is further and further away and the more you chase it, the further it gets. This driver, which is pushing many overachievers can eventually lead to high levels of stress, relationships breakdown, dissatisfaction, self sabotage and at its most destructive, complete and total burnout, physically and spiritually.
We have to find new values and new drivers that support the type of life, lifestyle and relationships we want to have.
So where do you start?
Step one is sit down and create, on paper the life you want to live. Write down every detail of it. What you earn, what you do for work, what your spouse does, where you live etc. Next step?
Look at what you’ve written and sincerely ask yourself the following:
- Are these goals filling my need for significance?
- Are these goals filling my need for certainty?
- Are these goals bringing me closer to love and connection with myself of others?
If you answered 1. Or 2. To most of what you wrote down, then my friend you have a little gremlin in the driver’s seat and he can be reckless. Your values and drivers may need an upgrade. What’s worked for you this far has likely stopped being effective and or fulfilling, and some part of you knows it.
You can’t run away from not enough or insignificance, it will always be on your back the more you try to out pace it. You can however loosen its grip by setting your sights on higher level values and doing the healing work around this little relentless gremlin. We’re built for love and connection – not for chasing carrots on sticks. Which would you prefer? The paradox is this, once you learn to put someone else in that precious drivers seat, a part of you that is filled by connection, contribution and love, you’ll achieve just as much if not more than you ever could have. Your filter for success will change and as a result you can live a life that feels more purposeful and more fully aligned to the real you than you’ve ever felt before!
Give that exercise a try and let me know how you do in the comments below…
SO much love.