by Laurie McCammon, MS
As a Conari author of a book about the topic of “enough,” I’ve been struck by how many social media posts have landed in my feed lately that either briefly touch upon or dance closely around one core issue – the feeling of not being or doing enough. While I am celebrating that more of us are talking about not feeling we are enough, I am noticing that we tend to move on almost as soon as we have uttered the uncomfortable words, “I don’t feel I am enough.” Our tendency to do this prevents us from investigating how our personal relationship with the word “enough” could be an unexpectedly powerful game changer for ourselves and the world.
If we were to sit with the discomfort of our never-enoughness a bit longer, we may notice how eerily universal “never enoughness” is. We might notice that our tendency to try to fix ourselves rather than to accept ourselves could be proof of how deep the “never enough” programming goes and how blind we are to its grasp on our behaviors, emotions and choices. Dive deeper, and you might discover, as I have, that “never enough” goes way beyond fixing ourselves to what could very well be the biggest causative force affecting humanity as a whole – the Never Enough myth which is a blanket acceptance of scarcity as a given.
It can be deeply disturbing at first to notice how we’ve ingested this myth, but equally liberating once we come to terms with it. How has our choice to believe “never enough” shaped how we’ve felt about ourselves? How has it affected our choices, our relationships, our goals in life? How does it determine what we tolerate, what we are willing to stand up for, how powerful we feel? How would we be different and how would society be different if we believed we were enough and that there is enough? Very simple questions, but we tend not to ask them. Why not?
Biologist Bruce Lipton offers a possible explanation, stating that by the age of seven, 70% of the cultural programming we’ve taken in tells us that we are not enough. Is it any wonder we have a hard time actually telling the difference between who we actually are and the disempowering Never Enough story we have been taught to believe about ourselves? Generation after generation we pass along predictable coping scripts in the form of shame, guilt, martyrdom, addiction, materialism, perfectionism and violence. No one is immune. But these behaviors actually contribute to perpetuating the conditions of depravity and suffering we so desperately want to overcome.
If we somehow were able to move outside the Never Enough box, we’d find out two encouraging facts. First, the “Never Enough” cultural script has been running for only a very short portion of humanity’s total history – about 5,000 years. Second, we are the only species of 8.7 million species on earth to use this script. What are the chances humans are right and every other species is wrong?
A 5,000 year history of anthropocentrism and human hierarchy is plenty of time to develop amnesia that any other cultural script is possible. Luckily, we have reminders from the indigenous wisdom keepers of the much older Enough Story as well as a breakthrough convergence of people innovating in the Enough field. For example, look underneath cutting edge technologies such as lasers and wifi, social movements such as the sharing economy and permaculture, spiritual trends such as mindfulness, and scientific discoveries such as quantum science, and you will find one simple belief in common: there is much more than meets the eye. Much more. In fact, there is vast enoughness.
For 13.8 billion years the entire natural universe has been organized around the core principle of providing enough for everyone. Organisms, ecosystems, planets and galaxies are all organizational structures built to create enough for their members forever. To be cut off from this universal benevolent intention is to dwell in a manufactured state separation and fear, constantly worried that you aren’t enough and will not have enough, and never feeling the full force of the love that flows throughout this universe as a life-sustaining currency connecting and nurturing all of us.
All of this is to say that a deep dive into our relationship with “enough” is so much more than a self-help tool. It’s a spiritual revolution that has the power to reshape, re-vitalize and connect our psyches, our communities and our world. As we wake up to the truth of the universal Enough Story that has always lived in and through us, we claim our roles as powerful planetary change agents creating an entirely new and better story.
Laurie McCammon, founder of the Women’s Institute of Maine, holds an MS in Adult Education, with a thesis on transformational learning. She has served as an NGO delegate at the UN International Commission on the Status of Women where she presented Enough! in 2013 and 2014. She has been published in numerous magazines including Soulful Living, Inner Awakenings, Spiritual Renaissance, and Allies for the Greater Good.