How Knowing Your “Why” Helps You Know You’re Enough
Newsflash: I’m an ultrasensitive, feedback-seeking individual. Try that on for size: I want to know exactly what you’re thinking about my work, parenting, friending, advice, actions or conversation, yet I recoil in terror (and shame and disgust at myself) if your impression (or my impression of your impression) is anything less than perfect. There’s that word—perfect—again and what does it mean anyway? So regardless of how tired, hungry, angry, or otherwise frustrated you’re feeling because of any number of 1,000,001 unrelated events and situations, I’m going to take exactly what you say or how you treat me as living proof of my self-worth. No pressure. Really.
Can anyone relate? Or are you all just waiting to see what in the world I have to say next? If you can relate, I’m your person. Call me. We’ll have coffee (or tea or water) and make plans to change the world. It’ll be perfect.
As you can see, I know myself pret-ty well. And knowledge is power, right? When you know yourself, you know your “why,” and research shows that helping others is paramount to happiness. So where do we go from here?
Questions hound me every day: How do I stand firm when my kids keep asking to do things I know aren’t good for them? How do I know that the ways I’m giving to others of my time and energy are enough? How do I deliver a leadership speech to rally everyone in the room? How do I help a parent or child who feels truly hopeless? Am I there for my own kiddos enough? My husband? My friends?
Through my faith, I believe that God gave each of us unique gifts that are exactly in line with the purpose intended for our lives to fulfill on earth. When we are vertically and horizontally aligned — using our gifts in accordance with our purpose, we know who we are and can do what we do. It’s beautifully simple.
Even if you and I may not share the same perspective on the Giver of our gifts, we can agree that each individual is unique in her or his set of strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and perspectives based on those experiences. The more humbly we approach the world—and others—with curiosity and questions instead of concretes, assumptions and labels, the more open we are to discovering these gifts, experiences and, ultimately, our commonalities. Our curiosity and kindness bridge the gaps between us while giving the space to allow each of us to live in our own unique and special place in the world.
So when all those worries and doubts plague me, I work back to my beginning. I do this work in a variety of ways, and so can you. I journal, spend time in the Word, meditate, exercise my body and mind at Alpha class, and turn to people who see me as I want to be seen, need to be seen, and who know my heart. Inevitably I remember my gifts: compassionate attunement to the people around me, a love of learning, and a drive towards excellence. What feeds my soul? Helping others discover themselves and their purpose. So I do it because I’m equipped to, not because I have to. So I feel fulfilled—not burdened.
It’s so easy to lose track of who we are and what we want. We live in a media-based society that barrages us with feedback at every turn. If you share my feedback-seeking tendency, you’ll agree that it can be overwhelming. Instead of one or two ideas about how to parent, we have access to 30,000. We compare our lives to the pictures others post of their best days—when we’re feeling at our worst. BUT, I promise, if we can learn to study the rhythm of our own lives, we can figure out what works for us. And by “works for us” I mean satisfies our souls. When you figure that out, those extraneous fears and distractions—the constant questions of, “Am I enough?” loosen their grip and, in time, fall away.
The wonderful thing about Yellow Parachute’s coaches is that working with our students is our “why”—it’s what makes us feel whole and purposeful. This week a student said to me, “The time goes really fast working with you. It’s fun—like I’m talking to a real person instead of someone who just says, ‘Do this’.” We marveled at the spark that personal understanding and investment brings to learning. And it’s that spark of purpose, that “why” behind the hours we log, that lets us set up our students for a lifetime of learning and self-discovery.
Want to read more about finding your purpose? Check out these titles:
Daring Greatly - Brene Brown
The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown
Rising Strong - Brene Brown
Present Over Perfect - Shauna Niequist
Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier - Robert A. Emmons