There’s a line in Brené Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection that I may tattoo on my face: “Today, I’m going to believe that showing up is enough.”
Because maybe there are days that we don’t do well: On a presentation; in a meeting; in a conversation. Maybe there are days when we even fail. A test. A promotion. Maybe the words don’t come as we sit down to compose our next blog post. Maybe we don’t meet some other goal we’ve set for ourselves.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Muhammad Talha
So often we try to scrub our homes spotless before anyone comes over (and end up with an aching back). We try to do the same with everything else. We try to avoid messes of any kind because we fear revealing our “flaws.” We worry that we aren’t productive so we pack our schedules and to-do lists. We want others to think we’re put together so we apply layers of makeup and uncomfortable clothes. We often think, I could’ve done more. I should’ve done more. I was too distracted. Too lazy. How could I let that slip my mind? Why did that take so long to complete? I’ve only done one thing on my to-do list!
Inevitably, our thoughts and frustrations turn into, What’s wrong with me? If I can’t do such and such, I’m useless. I’m worthless. We assume that not finishing a task, not accomplishing something else, or messing up somehow speaks to something bigger. We think it defines us. We think it becomes who we are: Failures. Absolute Failures.
But what if we declare that on some days it’s OK – and frankly just fine – if we simply show up? After all, isn’t showing up the first step to anything anyway?
Jennifer Louden has written about a powerful concept she calls “conditions of enoughness.” She defines enoughness as “a daily declaration of what you want and the action you will take to create it.” This isn’t about doing it all. Because at some point there has to be a finish line. And maybe on some days, we could’ve been more focused. We could’ve accomplished another task. But beating ourselves up isn’t helpful. It only paralyzes us. And it glosses over the fact that every day is different. Some days our energy is high. We are excited, eager and ready. Other days we are exhausted. We are dragging. Every task, no matter how small, feels like a major project. Why? Who knows?
Louden outlines an excellent 4-step process for identifying our conditions of enoughness here. I highly suggest using it regularly.
Even if you still don’t accomplish your goal, whatever that realistic intention, remember that you showed up for the day. You sat down at your desk. You went to work. You woke up and got up. Sometimes that’s enough. Absolutely enough. Because we are not machines. We are not flawless. And that’s a beautiful thing.