Lately I’ve been pondering, albeit way too much, on my limiting beliefs. It would seem simple to get to the core of those beliefs we hold so tight that our whole world will unravel without them. But, it’s not so simple or easy. Here’s why. Most of our minds run on auto-pilot and tell the exact same story over and over again. The story is always on fast forward inside our minds and it only leaves us with an overall feeling that causes us to react to people and situations. It feels nearly impossible to slow down the reel and deconstruct exactly what has us caught in this loop, this groundhog day of an existence. Truth be told, we don’t just have one limiting belief, but a whole shabby tower of them that are so tightly interconnected, pulling one thread feels a bit like sitting warm in our favorite sweater, with the urge just to tug one little yarn, to get rid of that tiny nuisance. Problem is, when you start pulling, the whole thing–our life starts to come undone if we don’t stop. Most of us don’t want to end up sitting there naked, so we just stop pulling or we find a pair of scissors and cut the string off. But this doesn’t get rid of the loose ends. In fact, we’ll continue to have loose ends until one day, we end up getting rid of the sweater anyway because it looks old, ratty, and quite frankly, like crap. Sometimes we start pulling loose ends because we’re bored and feel a bit self-destructive, maybe sitting in church feeling nervously condemned. We’re not really intent on truly fixing anything, in that moment. Then, we wake up, and realize we almost accidentally made a mess. So, what about when we really are just ready to start living authentically and get real with ourselves and others? We stop caring about what kind of mess is left. We just start pulling and don’t stop until it’s too late. The damage has been done and it’s time to look at our core with no covering, no pretense.
So was this year. A year of pulling the string. I can assure you that this process is a lot like living on the edge harnessed only by thoughts like, “Oh my dear God, what have I done?” And I’m still pulling and pulling and pulling and pulling. Until I stopped. Half-dressed. Hand in the cookie jar. Crumbs on my mouth stopped. And this is what I felt. “I will never be good enough.” I could not stop all the thoughts in my head. Could not slow them down enough to hear any more or less than, “You are not good enough.” And by good, I don’t mean skill or intellect or acrobatics. I mean “goodness.” “I’m not goodness enough.”
I mean I get it. It’s pretty obvious why I would feel this way. But is it really a can of worms I can afford to open at this point in my life? I mean, I kinda already did open it. There’s no putting this sweater back together. It’s cold in here. I did look good in sweaters and no one would have noticed the string, had I just left it alone. But, I knew it was there. This nagging, limiting belief that I’m not goodness enough. Everyone sees me. Nothing really looks wrong on the outside. Yet, I behave strange. Like there’s something more wrong with me than there is with you. Like you’ve never had any loose ends yourself. And I hand this power over, sometimes to complete strangers, because I’m looking for a way to convince myself that I am goodness enough. Many people deal with this limiting belief by never sharing anything about themselves and always putting up a front to say, “I’m goodness enough and I’ll never show you otherwise, because I’m a master concealer, until I’m not” or “I’m not goodness enough and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it.” Then others, such as myself, start the conversation with “Here’s why I’m not goodness enough, convince me that I am, please.” “Analyze me. Take my life history and knit some sense of it.” “Please see that I’m a good person.” Then I spend the remainder of my time with those strangers or loved ones, proving I’m goodness enough—trying my damnedest to never screw up, so that I never risk losing their friendship or love, until I do. Neither way is the right way. Those who deal with this limiting belief, similarly to me, tend to miss out on opportunities because they look at every situation as a temptation. They fear what others will think if they make certain decisions or take a new direction. They are tempted to conceal their true desires because their desires may not align to others’ or even their own idea of goodness. Conversely, those who are unapologetic for their sense of goodness or lack thereof, take more opportunities to explore their desires and dare anyone to challenge them otherwise. If they believe others will think ill of them for the pursuit, they’ll skillfully keep quiet about it, with no shame. And they certainly have no reason to hide when they’re convinced they’re “goodness” enough, despite the opinion of others. Each of these styles of dealing with the limiting belief that “I’m not goodness enough” is tied closely to other limiting beliefs that are a result of our particular religion, creed or upbringing. But every style is rooted in shame, in hiding who we really are because who we really are is scary as poop that hits the fan just before company arrives. A friend once told me to repeat to myself 100 times a day, “I am who I am and I won’t apologize for it” with the warning that this is a principle of balance, not indulgence. I’d not even repeated this affirmation 100 times before it beat the hell out of this notion that I’ll never be “goodness” enough–In a way that was totally unexpected and quite frankly, disruptive to my conscience. I admitted. Whether I’m goodness enough or not – I have to stop apologizing for who I am, good or bad, who says they’re better?
This does put us back at square one though. Faith and religion. Are we justified by works or faith? Dare we say God is able to keep score on all our iniquities? Who’s winning and who’s losing? Do you use your righteousness as a bullwhip? Are you humble enough to forgive the reflection of you? What is the difference between proving goodness and making actual good choices that impact your future and those within your reach, positively? I don’t know the answers. If I did, I wouldn’t be writing. But I do know I’m still working to earn some salvation. Some redemption of those parts of me that just aren’t right. At the same time, I want to be loved for me, not the goodness me I project, but the messy me—the one who still just wants to find some peace and happiness this side of eternity. Truth be told, this whole love and total acceptance is between me, myself and God. It’s nobody’s business and nobody’s fulltime job to make me feel goodness enough—it’s miracle work—it’s ‘ole time religion that’s made a 2,000 year living, capitalizing on our deepest longing for goodness, to finally sit right with God.