“You are enough.” This is a popular sentiment in the self-improvement world. But what does it mean exactly? I think of it this way — you can deal with whatever happens. Maybe not perfectly. Maybe not up to anyone’s standards. Maybe just barely. It is the simple acknowledgment that you can work with stuff — even hard stuff.
Two nights ago my flight home from San Francisco was delayed. When we boarded the plane, the pilot notified us that we might not make it to our destination before the airport closed. If this was the case, we were told, we would have to turn around and return to San Francisco. So, for an hour, everyone on the plane was crossing their fingers that we would get in under the deadline.
We did make it with 4 minutes to spare (literally!). Everyone on board broke into spontaneous applause. It was a positive ending to a long day. The reality is that, as much as no one wanted to spend the night in the San Francisco airport, we all would have been okay. Really.
Life presents all kinds of situations — some are pleasant and comfortable while others are challenging and unwanted. No matter how talented, intelligent, wealthy, attractive, powerful, or popular you are, life is complex and filled with things that are outside our control.
This is why is incredibly powerful to cultivate and access the felt understanding that you are up to whatever happens. This is an very helpful daily practice. I am not talking about mental affirmations that everything will work out the way you want. I am not talking about praying for the result you believe you deserve. I am not talking about some magical law of attraction that is inappropriately based on quantum mechanics. I am talking about the embodied knowledge that no matter what happens, you will deal with it.
Further, you have the capacity to work peacefully and powerfully with whatever shows up in life. You can be kind and loving in the face of crappy events. I am not saying that it will be easy or comfortable. It may even contain periods of snotty sobbing and wailing. What I am suggesting is that you are up to it — as you always have been.
Knowing this conceptually — trying to convince yourself of this idea in your head — is not the same as feeling it. Spending time each day connecting with the sensations of fundamental competence is a powerful practice.
Because, without this understanding — without this embodied knowledge — we can easily spend unnecessary energy worrying, spinning in our heads about unknown futures, distracting ourselves, and seeking comfort rather than taking purposeful action.
So, how do we cultivate the felt understanding that we are up to whatever happens? We sit or stand quietly. We feel our feet on the ground and the breath in our body. We smile gently and rest our hand on the part of our body where we feel love and confidence. We let discomfort and awkwardness arise and pass. We wait until we can feel grounded and capable. We wait until we feel that, no matter what, we have what we need, we will rise to the occasion, and we will have our own back.
This practice can feel odd and nebulous at first. We can find our attention pulled back to doubt, worry, skepticism, or self-consciousness. This is all normal. You have a lot of pathways in your nervous system dedicated to generating those familiar internal experiences. If you keep practicing every day — several times a day — you will see something else begin to emerge. You will begin to feel something stable in the midst of life’s oscillations.
You will begin to know what has always been true. You are up to it. Good, bad, or ugly — you are up to it. The more that you know this about yourself, the more you can help others see this in themselves. This is a gift that you can give to yourself and to the world.