Filters Are Not Harmless

mindset

I’m going to share a secret with you.  Great Life Coaching is not about helping clients reach their goals.  Setting goals and striving towards them is what I call the “chocolate-covered broccoli” of this work.

Of course, we get clarity on our goals and strive towards them.  More often than not, when working with a capable Professional Coach, we achieve our declared goals.  But that’s not what makes transformational coaching so invaluable.  Most Coaches will tell you that the actual problem or challenge our clients present with, is not the one we need to solve.  The main obstacle, the one that has been getting in the way of their success for years and often decades, is that of feeling they are not enough.

Enough for love, enough for the task, enough for success, and ironically, not even enough for failure.  We don’t go for our dreams and desires because we don’t think we have enough capacity to face failure.  It’s difficult to understand where in our individual and collective life journey we adopted this belief.  Certainly, no one ever looked at a newborn and declared him or her not enough.  But somewhere along the way, most of us - although not all - started questioning our enoughness and decided that the antidote to this deeply uncomfortable thought, is some mixture of what I lovingly call the “Terrible Ten Ways We Hustle for Enoughness”:

  1. Work harder
  2. Work longer
  3. Be more - charming, pretty, strong, thin, funny (the list is long and you can insert your own adjectives)
  4. Please others
  5. Do extraordinary things 
  6. Do more extraordinary things - or just things
  7. Prove you’re worthy - of money, love, sex, (again, add your own nouns)
  8. Make it look easy
  9. Don’t show any weakness or vulnerability
  10. Be happy - all the time, but especially on social media

It’s an endless hustle, and I know it well.  This list of the “Terrible Ten Ways We Hustle for Enoughness” was a personal, decades-long experiment for me.  I earned a Ph.D. in all ten.  But for a long time now, my passion and purpose as a professional is to help others get past this untrue and life-sucking belief that we are not enough.

And do you know what one thing makes this aspect of my work so difficult?

Instagram filters!

Not the kind that makes landscape shots more creative, edgy and interesting.  I’m talking about the filters that make us look like someone else.  I assume that folks who use these filters, somehow have convinced themselves they look the same in real life?  Or perhaps, others won’t notice the spectacular difference when meeting them in person?  It’s not my business nor interest to explore that question, but I want them to be conscious that their behavior is the primary food of the monster in each of us, that lives - day to day and hour to hour - to prove we are not enough.

How we look, especially as we move through different stages of our life, is our love letter to the world and to our community.  Our eyes, smile and ageing facial symmetry tell those we care about that we may not be perfect, but we are good enough, and so are they.

I love and admire my young adult clients who are doubling down on their mental and emotional health and doing the difficult work of conscious growth at an age where I was deep in the Terrible Ten Hustle.  They are learning early in their lives that they are enough.  They aim high, work hard, achieve great things, and live wholeheartedly, but not because they have to prove their worth.  Their worthiness and their enoughness are not up for debate.  They were enough the day they took their first breath.

We each have a right to use any tool that makes us feel better.  But if you’re hooked on the kind of filter that erases every sign of age and unique characteristic from your face, just know that the message you are promoting to your friends, family, children, and most importantly to yourself is, “I’m not good enough.” One day, when I see you face to face, if I still recognize you, I will surely hold you in my arms and make sure you know and feel ENOUGH.

P.S. I’m committed to sharing my Life Coaching skills and tools out into the world, in the hope that it can help others. If this blog resonates with you, please consider forwarding it to anyone who may benefit from it. If this was forwarded to you, subscribe here.

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