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Enough!

Friday, March 15, 2013 by Marianne Elliott

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Last week I wrote about all the women I know who are working harder and harder and harder, and still feel they can never do, or be enough. I’ve been thinking about them all week, particularly with the polarised debate raging online and in the mainstream media about ‘Lean In’ – the new book from Sheryl Sandberg.

Some commentators are furious at Sandberg because they say she’s telling women they just haven’t done enough to get ahead, when really it’s the whole system that keeps women (and most men, for that matter) from finding true success & happiness in all areas of their lives. Others say Sandberg’s work is being misrepresented – and that she’s really just encouraging women to trust that their ideas, their voice, their contribution is good enough and to step up and lean in rather than backing away.

I can’t comment on the book, because I haven’t read it. But I can say this much: the problem is that the ‘system’ (by which I mean the consumer capitalist economic system that drives not only the American, but much of the world economy) doesn’t have a concept of ‘enough’. It’s built on the fundamental ideal of constant and endless growth.

So no matter how much we do, there will always be a sense that we could be doing more.

We have to decide for ourselves how much is enough.

Earlier this week I wrote about feeling that I didn’t have enough time to go to a yoga class. This may not seem like a big deal to you, so let me just remind you I am a yoga teacher, who makes her living sharing yoga with others – going to yoga classes could be considered a core part of my business, if you like.

When I start saying I don’t have enough time to go to yoga, or – like today – I don’t have enough time to help my friend get ready for her wedding, then I know something is wrong. Something is off-kilter. And that something usually has something to do with my ability to be clear about how much is enough.

This morning I got an email from a reader saying she feels overwhelmed in almost every area of her life. That she has chosen ‘enough’ as her word for the year, but realises she doesn’t yet know what it means to her.

Enough!

Despite being a card-holding member of the Yoga Alliance, I’m not interested in abundance.

I’m interested in sufficiency.

I don’t want more than I need, of anything. I want enough. Enough to be healthy, and safe. Enough to share with everyone. Enough for everyone everywhere to eat, sleep in warmth and safety, to learn freely, to express their ideas, to choose their partners, to believe what they choose.

I think most of us have forgotten what enough even feels like.

We have been trained to feel perpetually unsatisfied – the consumer economy relies on our constant dissatisfaction to function.

If we learned to be clear about how much ‘enough’ is we’d defy advertisers efforts to convince us to buy more all the time.

How much is enough food? How much is enough money? How many friends are enough?

How much sleep is enough? We don’t even know that anymore, everywhere we look people are telling us that we don’t get enough sleep, so we all tell ourselves all the time that we need more sleep. But do we even know what it feels like to be well-slept anymore?

Or to be comfortably sated after a meal?

Or to be satisfied with the amount of work we have done in a day?

We’ve forgotten what enough feels like.

How can we come back to enough, to the sense that we have done enough, that we have enough, that we are enough?

Here are some ways to come back to enough:

1. Decide for yourself how much is enough. Yes, really, you get to decide how much is enough for you.

2. Get into the habit of declaring yourself satisfied. This is a RADICAL act in our consumer culture, and I’ve learned so much about how to do this from Jen Louden, and her ‘satisfaction finder‘ tool.

3. Do whatever it takes to get back in touch with your body. Your body does have a clear concept of enough, even when our brains have lost touch with it. Get into the habit of paying attention to what your body has to say, every day.

4. Be kind to yourself. There’s a relentless ‘taskmaster’ aspect to the feeling of ‘never enough’ and I’m learning that I can rebalance that by cultivating what Natalie Goldberg calls my ‘inner sweetheart’ – the voice that tells me over and over again that I’m doing fine.

And know, that you really are enough.

Love,

signature_marianneS

PS: If you need help with #3 on that list, my online yoga courses are designed specifically to help you get into the habit of connecting to (and listening to) your body every day. Registrations are currently open for the Standard, Beginners and Busy People versions of the course. The 90 Days of Yoga version for people who have already done one of the first courses will open registration on Monday, and in two weeks we’ll open registration for 30 Days of Curvy Yoga with Anna Guest-Jelley.

 

 

 

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One Response to "Enough!"

  1. […] choose. I think most of us have forgotten what enough even feels like.”          -Enough! By Marianne Elliot (emphasis mine.) “In the past, I have sought to understand […]

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