How much is enough?
How much money is enough? How much love is enough? How much stuff is enough? How much power, or success, or Instagram followers do we need?
At the root of the question is another question: are all these things what we are really wanting? What is our obsession with more all about?
They say “the grass is always greener on the other side”.
But is it?
For every bright light, there is a shadow side, a darkness behind the glamour. Struggle is part of our human condition – we are born into struggle, and its through the survival of struggle that we flourish into resilient, empathic creatures.
Our society has invited us to ignore our struggle, to put a happy face on things, to smile through our pain, or to simply ignore it. We have glorified perfection, happiness, riches and worshipped at the feet of ‘success’.
Social media feeds our frenzy to present only the light side, and to tuck away our shadow side. We have lost our resiliency to struggle. Debate is no longer tolerated in politics, conflict no longer tolerated in marriage and mistakes no longer tolerated in business.
When we ignore the shadow in favour of worshipping ‘happiness above all else’, we invite feelings of inadaquacy or failure when we do, inevitably, struggle. What is lost here is the development of resiliency, to allow ourselves to feel the sadness, anger or grief of dissapointment, of being let down or experiencing loss. We have lost the expectation that we will struggle and have a difficult time sometimes; and the knowledge that it is actually through the struggle that we grow and develop as humans.
When we shun the darkness, expecting that struggle shouldn’t be there, we invite inadaquacy and feelings of shame when struggle inevitable does show up. Our shame or anger is turned outward towards others, or inwards towards our self.
We create conditions for which we then need to sooth ourselves. We buy more stuff, watch more Netflix, eat more food, smoke more cigerettes, drink more alcohol, do more drugs. Perhaps we get radicalized, or sooth our anxieties with stronger more hardline religious beliefs.
What is missing is an experience of ‘good enoughness’, in struggle and in times of success. Ultimately, we miss a sense of connection with each another. Intimacy, vulnerability, emotional connectedness and what Eric Berne called ‘strokes’ or units of recognition – recognition of our existence, our contributions, and that we have a place in the world and that we are important.
We are also missing permission to struggle. It’s okay to have a difficult time, to struggle, to feel angry, to grieve. You don’t need to feel happy all the time, and if you are having difficulty in your relationship, or struggling at work, or as as a parent, that’s okay too.
Know that struggle is not forever, there is another side of struggle. On the other side is accomplishment, resiliency and strength. Its also peace and contentment, joy, and a sense of fulfillment and purpose.
How do we get there?
We need each other. We need friends and family and community. More than that, we need people in our life who are willing to be vulnerable enough in their own experience to hold space for us to struggle – to provide loving kidness and support. We need people in our lives that can see us in our struggle, and have that be okay. Rather than attempt to ‘solve the problem’, or ‘find the upside’, to instead provide kindness and support.
When we find this connection with others and ultimately with ourselves, we find a peaceful place of good enough-ness. Self-love and connection with others replaces addictive processes and the relentless pursuit of more.
From here we can experience gratitude – for our darkness as well as our light.