There is lots about the self-improvement industry that can make you feel like you aren’t enough. In order to actualize, you need this particular diet; that workout plan; this social media behavior; that mediation practice. While it may be true that those kinds of things can help you actualize, they probably won’t work if you feel like you need to, if you feel like something is wrong with you if you don’t. Because here’s the thing: You are enough right now.
Just take a moment to close your eyes and feel what it would be like if there was nothing wrong with you. Freedom? Space? Openness? Calm? Relaxation? That feeling is always accessible, and unless you’re actively in a dire circumstance, in any given moment that feeling is probably true.
Now, close your eyes and reflect upon what it’s like to feel like you aren’t enough and you need to adopt and follow some new program to close the gap. What does that feel like? Tightness? Shame? Fear? Sadness? Longing? Craving? Guilt?
Which of the two above feelings is more likely to lead to sustaining a new practice? What about enjoying it? Or performing well at it? Which of the two above feelings is likely to result in giving up? Under-performing? Wanting something to be over before it even starts?
And herein lies the catch: The best way to improve at something—especially yourself— is to start by realizing that you are already enough.
Ignore all the people, products, and services that tell you—both implicitly and explicitly—that you aren’t enough. That’s some serious bullshit. But also realize that just because you are already enough doesn’t mean that you can’t also get better, or that there aren’t parts of you that you might want to change.
All truth is paradox.
You are already enough. And there’s plenty of room for you to get better. Believing both at once is the key to sustainable progress, and it’s also the key to feeling good where you are. Perhaps sustainable progress and feeling good where you are aren’t opposites. Perhaps they are actually complementary.
Another way to think about it is this. There’s the “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” camp and the “show endless love and compassion camp.” A better approach is to embody both at once.