I heard it first as a voice, and a knock at my door. It kept saying, “Let me in! You know you’re not good enough. You’ll never be good enough! You might as well just quit trying to pretend that you can do more, be more, give more, and you’ll finally be enough. It won’t ever happen.”
I didn’t really believe that voice at first, even though it was pretty loud. I ignored it for awhile, but it didn’t go away. It kept knocking at my door, screaming cruel words of inferiority and inadequacy. I will admit though, it did shake me up a little. What if the voice was right? And what if everyone else found out it was true? Those simple moments of fear and doubt were just the opening that was needed. Peeking out through the crack in the door, I saw a horrible monster yelling at me, and it quickly pushed its way inside and devoured me. In one bite. I was consumed by a monster. There I was, sitting down in the depths of his belly, curled in a ball with my head in my hands, devastated. Heartbroken. Hopeless. Despairing. I was completely identified with that voice that said I was no good, and never would be.
And then I heard another voice. It said, “Quit. Just quit. You know you want to quit.” I assumed this was more negativity coming from the monster, encouraging me to give up everything my heart held dear. Because, after all, I was not good enough to have any of it. But somewhere deep within, I wondered: what if this message isn’t coming from the monster? What if, hidden amongst all this negativity, is an angel of truth? What if it has been patiently, quietly, lovingly listening to my fear, my heartbreak, my shame? What would it have to say about all this? And so I calmed down and summoned the courage to ask, “Quit what?” “What is it that I need to quit?”
From deep inside, the angel whispered, “Quit trying to live up to some idealized image of who you think you need to be. It’s not possible. And it’s not necessary. You are already enough. You have always been enough, and you never needed to do anything to become enough. And besides, it’s really getting in the way. It takes all your energy and all your attention and you have become so focused on it that you forgot I was here. You have created this monster that you thought would protect you, and instead it has eaten you. Please quit trying to be someone you are not. Who you really are is much more beautiful.”
Amazed and astounded, I sat up and looked around. To my surprise I wasn’t inside a monster. The monster was gone. It was a gorgeous, crisp autumn day at the park, and sitting there, not doing anything in particular, I could clearly see that I was enough. Life was enough. Not perfect, but completely enough. The idealized image of myself I had been chasing had given birth to this monster who survived by preying on my self-confidence and self-respect. And the angel…..that was my Real Self, the voice of wisdom, love, and courage inside me, gently suggesting that it was time to quit chasing an illusion of what I thought I needed to be.
Now, this might sound like an imaginative story, but sometimes fiction holds more truth than apparent reality, and in that sense, this is a true story. I have literally lived this story the past several days, and it wasn’t fun. Fortunately, it had a happy ending!
Do you ever find yourself desperately trying to maintain the image of an idealized version of who you think you should be, only to be eaten alive by criticism and perfectionism?
In the process do you lose touch with the truth of who you are?
Have you ever felt consumed by “not good enough?”
Pathwork Lecture 83 reminds us:
“You do not realize the impossibility of being as perfect as your idealized self demands, and never give up whipping yourself, castigating yourself, and feeling a complete failure whenever it is proven that you cannot live up to its demands….The idealized self is a falsity. It is a rigid, artificially constructed imitation of a live human being…The more you invest your energies, your personality, your thought processes, concepts, ideas, and ideals into it, the more strength you take from the center of your being, which alone is amenable to growth. This center of your being is the only part of you, the real you, that can live, grow, and be. It is the only part that can properly guide you.”
When you show up for life authentically, just as you are, it can feel a little vulnerable, but it’s the only way others can see and love the beauty of who you are. It’s the only way you can ever know that you are enough, even with all your imperfections. So all that pretense, defense, shame? It’s really safe to let it go. Just quit it. You know you want to.
If you would like to loosen the grip of the Idealized Self and discover your Real Self, I would be honored to be a compassionate companion for your journey. Sign up below to receive my newsletter or contact me to arrange a free 30-minute phone consultation.
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TREASURE IN THE DEPTHS: Identifying Hidden Obstacles to Fulfillment.