I noticed an affirmation posted in someone’s workspace recently. I’m not one for affirmations, so I usually don’t pay much attention to such things. Psychosomaticism (if there is such a word) works if you’re not aware of where you’re at. Affirmations serve as reminders for what we should not be doing, but seldom, if ever does it serve to confirm why we should not be doing it. Some would tell themselves that they’re at peace with the universe and the universe is full of love, and then they turn on the news and realise that it’s not true. But holding on to the affirmation is the only handhold of sanity that they have, so they repeat the mantra just like Joseph Goebbels said they should. You know, if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes accepted as truth.
The reason this affirmation caught my attention is because it immediately prompted me with a somewhat disturbing question. The affirmation simply read, “I am enough”. The question it prompted was, “At which point did you convince yourself that you were not enough?”
It’s this dissonance (at the risk of sounding aloof) that confuses me about human nature. We constantly look for reasons to pacify ourselves about our current state, but rarely seek to actively change that state. It’s as if we have given up our agency (another aloof term) in favour of being nurtured. Not nurtured in a healthy and wholesome way, but rather in the way that a victim needs to be consoled even though they may have been party to the distress that they experienced.
Each moment that we spend convincing ourselves that we’re out of control, we establish reasons to compensate for that through distractions. Yes, we cannot change what we’re presented with in life. But only to a point. This reminds me of one of my favourite analogies. If you poke a stick into a beehive, don’t complain when you get stung. Similarly, if we choose to be ignorant of these hives of consequences around us, and instead wander naively from one life experience to the next, we should not complain when what we receive is not what we wanted.
Life becomes complicated and exceedingly overbearing when we feel subjected to the circumstances around us, while refusing to accept our accountability to act in spite of it. Stated more simply, there is no joy to be had from waiting for another to rescue us, while we willingly step into that pit of quicksand.
Again, the failing of this accelerated pace of development that we’re experiencing as a result of the so-called fourth industrial revolution is that we are spoiled for choice in how to distract ourselves from what is important, or more importantly, from what makes us feel uncomfortable. Change, or accountability (often both) is what causes us to feel uneasy as we lazily observe the world through social media. Social media is not the problem in this case. What we believe we need from it is the important part.
Problem is, most don’t know what they need, they only know what makes them feel good. It’s like we’re all suddenly Pavlov’s dog waiting for that next ‘like’ or that unread badge count to go up because we’ve replaced human connection with electronic communication. Nothing replaces the energy felt between two humans connecting. It doesn’t have to be a physical connection either. It’s simply a connection of conviction and aspiration. Two people looking in the same direction and believing, with conviction, in the myriad of possibilities waiting to be realised.
However, one of the most daunting realities these days appears to be trust. The one thing that we once gave without thinking now becomes something we withhold until proven worthy. Connecting over a digital device gives us control over the level of trust we allow, or accept. Those that venture into this domain blindly give trust blindly and are subsequently destroyed when what they said in private becomes the next viral sensation on the internet.
It all comes back to one simple, but very elusive point. Know yourself. Be mindful. Embrace accountability. They’re all one and the same, even though academics and motivational speakers will have you believe they’re not. When you know who you are, are willing to question why you’re not where you wish you were, and are willing to take accountability for where you’re at, you will know that you are enough because that is how far you chose to push yourself. Anything beyond that point is directly related to the effort you put in towards achieving it, and almost equally, the effort you put into letting go of that which no longer serves your aspirations as a human being.
Everything else is a distraction. The kind of distractions that leave us needing to convince ourselves that we’re enough, because at some point we didn’t realise that we convinced ourselves that we were lacking for no good reason at all.