I finally realized I was “enough” on October 22, 2016. I was standing in a circle around a fire on retreat with my teacher David. Two days before I had felt a rush of shame come through my body. The mean voice in my head that criticizes and judges me was strong. I called myself out. I admitted to everyone in the group that I was feeling small and comparing myself. It felt good to say it out loud.
We were offering prayers to loved ones of people in the group who were really sick or struggling or who had died. Sprinkling sage, tobacco, corn, rose petals, pinon needles and other offerings to the Earth on the fire. As I was listening to fellow friends and seekers talk about two-year-old nephews with terminal illnesses, sisters with brain cancer, and friends who died too young, a piece of my healing clicked in.
“Who the f*ck are you to not be good enough? (this is the voice of my encouraging inner football coach talking!) People have terminal diseases and you in your healthy body with your bright mind and all your skills aren’t good enough? What?!”
I was actually appalled with myself. That I had created this tiny cage and put myself in it. In that moment, it felt like blasphemy to have ever put myself down. To have ever disregarded myself or disrespected my life. And just like that, 'good enough' was locked in. It only took me 41 years to do it. I’ve gone at this one hard in about a bazillion different ways. It all mattered and it all added up to this moment. Now, I can’t even remember why I wasn’t good enough. Something about the color of my teeth or the lack of muscle tone in my thighs or how much I sit around when I should be doing something.
Two days ago, I stuttered and fumbled over a word while I was leading a group meditation. Twenty years ago, that would have gone on the highlight reel of something I called my Personal Torture Movie. It was a montage of scenes where I had done or said something I thought was really embarrassing or stupid. I would play it over and over and it would register in my body as a turned stomach and a hot flush on my face.
Somewhere along the way, this movie stopped playing when I got a little closer to loving who I was. Peeling the layers of pain and societal conditioning takes time, dedication and intention.
The thing is, most of us are running some old, clunky software in our psyches. I was still using Erin 1.0 when my system was begging for an upgrade. Whatever happens to us (or FOR us if we really want to take responsibility for our evolution!) when we first start forming conscious memories, sets the stage for the programing that runs internally. This means that much of what our subconscious learns about what is true about the world, and who we can be in it happens around the ages of 3-5 years old.
You might learn that it’s not safe to trust love, it’s not safe to trust people, you are broken, it’s not safe to be vulnerable, you are too much or not enough to receive love, or you have to take care of yourself because no one else can. If you live in a house where there is a lot of yelling/chaos, violence, addiction, mental health issues, there is an absentee parent, or you are left alone a lot, these imprints can be magnified.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
~ Carl Jung
It’s our job to identify and excavate those old programs that keep us safe, but stuck. If yours aren’t clear, you can look to any place in life where you feel afraid or inhibited in taking action. My favorite tool for getting to the root of old patterns and purging them is Breathwork. It has worked wonders for me and I credit my epiphany of last fall to a committed daily breathing practice. Anytime you set an intention and choose yourself and your healing, magic is guaranteed to show up.