Updated: Dec 24, 2019
Lately I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure to do more. Like no matter what I do or how much I do or how hard I work it’s never good enough.
Do you ever feel that way?
Like it’s constantly there.
This nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you are forgetting something or that there is something unresolved? Something that you need to do but haven’t done? Or maybe like there is something that you need to think about or figure out? Like some problem you need to solve?
And only when you do that thing or solve that problem will that feeling go away?
Do you run yourself ragged trying to do everything you feel like you have to do?
Are you constantly burned out or over stressed?
Do you find yourself exhausted but you can’t ever seem to really rest? Like even when you sleep it seems like you never really rest?
That’s how I’ve been feeling a lot lately.
And I wanted to talk about that a little bit.
Why Do We Do What We Do?
Tony Robbins said: “all human behavior is the result of the state that we’re in.”
And Mastin Kipp says something like we do everything we do because we’re looking for an emotional payoff.
I think that all human behavior is either generated by our current emotional or physiological state, or it is in search of a new state different from our current state.
In other words, either we feel good and we naturally want to share, or we don’t feel good and we’re trying to.
So in the context of what I was talking about earlier, I have been feeling this stress and so all of my behavior has been aimed at not feeling stress anymore. I’ve been trying to chase the stress away with my behavior.
Essentially my subconscious mind feels like something is missing and it’s trying to fix it. It doesn’t feel good, so it searches for some reason why that might be. It finds something to attach the stress or pain to.
It’s saying: “I don’t feel good. It must be because I haven’t filmed and edited that video yet. I better do that. And then I’ll feel good.” Or: “I don’t feel good. It must be because I’m not very good at talking to people. I need to practice every conversation I could ever have in my mind so that I’ll be prepared when I go out into the world and interact with people. Once I’ve figured out the perfect thing to say in every situation then I’ll feel better and then I can rest.”
I have that feeling of stress, and then my mind attaches it to something and I then feel like I have to do that thing to make the stress go away.
The only problem is that it doesn’t work. Right?
I mean, how many of you have had that experience where you’re really motivated to do something and then you do it but it either doesn’t make you feel better or the emotional payoff doesn’t last and you find yourself just looking for the next thing to make you feel better? To make you feel okay? Like the feeling of accomplishment doesn’t last or it doesn’t feel satisfying like you thought it would?
I work so hard and try to do all the things that that feeling of stress is telling me I need to do, and yet it never goes away. My mind just gives me some new thing on the list. I lie to myself and say, “well I know I didn’t feel peace after doing that last thing, but this one will be different. Once I do this next thing I’ll be able to relax and rest.”
And I believe it. And I keep chasing. And I keep burning myself out.
It reminds me of Michael Jordan. That might sound weird, but I grew up a Utah Jazz fan in the 90’s so I got to watch Michael deny my team a championship twice.
Michael Jordan is still to this day considered by most people to be the greatest basketball player to ever play. He won six championships, five mvps, and was named to the all star team 14 times.
In short, he won. Everything. A lot. Like, there was nowhere higher for him to go. He reached the mountain top.
And yet, in his hall of fame inductance speech he weirdly talked almost exclusively about all the people who had ever wronged him or rejected him. He even brought up his high school coach who had cut him from the team, saying: “I wanted to make sure you knew you made a mistake dude.”
30 years later, with absolutely nothing left to prove, here was Michael Jordan, still unable to let it go. Still unable to move on. Still unable to rest.
I talk about this in another post. But it’s super applicable here.
In the movie Cool Runnings, about the Jamaican bobsled team, Irv Blitzer was asked why he had cheated in a previous Olympics and he said:
“A gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.”
I think that’s why Michael Jordan could never be at peace, no matter how much he achieved.
I think it’s the same reason for me. And all of us. Why doesn’t that feeling of stress ever go away no matter how hard we work or how much we achieve?
Because we’re not really addressing the root issue. I know I don’t always.
I feel like I’m not enough. That feeling of stress is the feeling of lack. Scarcity. Inadequacy. Fear. Shame.
And I’m subconsciously searching for a new emotional state. One of peace. Abundance.
I want to rest and be at peace but my mind believes I’m not good enough to rest yet. I haven’t done enough or achieved enough yet. That I don’t deserve to rest yet.
So I’m trying to make myself enough by doing enough. Trying to make myself acceptable by doing more. And then when I do what I feel I’m lacking, and I still don’t feel like enough, I feel like the problem is I’m just not working hard enough. Like I have to push even harder and work even harder.
And so I do. I push and push and work and grind.
Until eventually I fall apart.
I’ve been searching for this quote and I can’t find it. I think it’s by Dr. Gabor Mate and it says something like: “if you don’t choose to rest, your body will choose it for you.”
He wrote a book called ‘When the body says no’ talking about the impacts of stress on the health of the body. There are all kinds of negative health impacts connected to chronic stress.
So why does that feeling of stress or not enough never go away even when we work hard or do the things we need to do? Why did that feeling of rejection or inadequacy never go away for Michael Jordan no matter how much he accomplished?
I think it’s about attunement. What are we tuning in to?
The Power of Attunement
If you ever use an older radio, you can listen to any local radio station but you have to tune into it. You have to actually turn a dial and that changes the attunement of the antenna. Depending on what frequency it’s tuned into, that’s what you will hear from the speakers.
I think the human body is like a radio antenna and it is constantly tuning in to something. I think we know what we are tuning in to by how we feel.
The problem is that what we are tuned into we stay tuned into unless we retune. But we have to do specific things to change the tuning.
So for instance, if we are tuned into ‘not enough’ or lack or scarcity or stress, we will stay tuned into that stress no matter how much we try to become enough because we’re not changing the tuning. In fact, our actions are actually supporting the current tuning.
Like, we are sending a message to our subconscious mind that the feeling of not enough is accurate.
Does that make sense?
See, I think that the way we tune into something is by our belief. And our actions are a manifestation of our belief.
So, if we believed that we were enough already, why would we need to do anything to try to make ourselves enough? We wouldn’t. We would just dismiss any message that said we needed to.
We act as if our beliefs are true. Whether they are or not.
Like, if you had just eaten a huge meal and you were super full and satisfied, you wouldn’t then go searching through the fridge to find something to eat. That’s what hungry people do. Even if someone told you that you look hungry and you needed to eat.
You would dismiss it.
Our actions are a manifestation of our beliefs. They are a signal to our subconscious mind that we believe something is true, whether it is or not. Whether it’s healthy or not.
So we can’t change our emotional state by doing the action our current emotions are telling us to do. By doing the actions that are aligned with our current state of feeling. I think we have to do something different to change the emotion.
Does that make sense?
You Are Enough Right Now
I guess my point here is just to say that maybe we don’t have to do everything we feel like we do. Maybe we don’t have to act on every stress we feel. Maybe we don’t have to act on most of it.
Maybe the real issue isn’t that you aren’t doing enough or working hard enough. Maybe the issue isn’t that you aren’t smart or funny or attractive or rich enough. Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with you not having the newest iPhone or Xbox or the nicest car or the most trendy clothes or the highest grades.
Maybe your social media presence isn’t the issue. Maybe your likes or follows don’t have anything to do with the real reason you always feel stressed or down or lonely or depressed or anxious.
Maybe the real issue is that you believe you aren’t enough without all those things.
Maybe you’re just tuned in to not enough. And if you keep acting like it’s true by doing all the things the stress is telling you to do, you’re going to stay tuned in to it.
So maybe we can learn to say no a little more. To the demands of others. The demands of society or culture. The demands of ourselves. Certainly to the demands of that voice inside our heads telling us that we aren’t enough and if we just do this one more thing then we’ll be enough.
Maybe we can learn to retune ourselves by choosing to do something different. By focusing on a different voice. One that says we are enough just as we are and we don’t need to earn anything or prove anything.
It’s not about entitlement or doing nothing or being lazy. It’s about mental and emotional health. Do good! Absolutely do good things in this world! Just don’t do them to earn your worth or your approval! And be intentional with your time and energy. Ask the question: do I really have to do this thing? What feeling is motivating me?
Learn your worth and I promise that you’ll naturally and effortlessly do so much good! Learn that you are already and always enough and good will flow from your abundant feeling.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t give what you don’t have. Ask yourself why you’re doing the things you’re doing. What emotion is motivating you? If it’s fear or not enough, stop listening to it! Choose a different one! Retune yourself!
How would you act if you felt like you were enough? Start acting as if that were true. Start living like someone who feels like they are enough. Act less from that feeling of stress. That feeling that you have to earn your worth.
You are a magnificent creature! One with infinite worth. As a Christian I believe so much worth that God Himself gave His own life to save you.
Stop degrading yourself. You are enough in this very moment. Enough for love, for connection, for grace. But you’ll never feel it if you don’t listen to a different voice. If you don’t tune into a different station.
There is hope for you and I. Happiness and peace. But we have to choose it. We have to cultivate it. We have to receive it.
So let’s open our hearts to receive it.
You can get a copy of my book You Are Enough here. It's a quick read. But it speaks from my heart. A love letter to you from me. A little encouragement when you are down.