the science behind the myth of enoughness

April 20, 2017

Well, we survived spent Easter in the Brecon Beacons!

For four days we lived in a small wooden cabin with no electricity and one hot water tap. We cooked on a little gas camping stove and paper-scissored-rocked to be first in the bathwater.

During the day we explored the mountains before returning to read books and do crosswords in front of the crackling fire. At night we star-gazed and listened to an entire parliament of owls hooting through the trees.

We had just enough.

As we sat out on the stoop one night, I was trying to connect the dots from when we all lived so simply, to how we got here, with our complicated, often overwhelming lives now.

I came up with this imperfect analogy: imagine if you were lost and alone, in the cold and rainy Welsh valleys. You see the candlelight and smokestack of a wooden cabin. Imagine the relief! And then you are welcomed in to warm yourself by the fire, you are fed and cared for.

You went from being miserable, lost and alone, to warm, happy and cared for, with very little stuff.

I wonder if somehow we made the leap – if a warm room and a bowl of soup feels that good, imagine how much happier we would be with WAY more stuff?

And we all got seduced by the idea that happiness comes from accumulation; that our internal longings can be fulfilled by external means.

When I have enough, I will feel I am enough.

It’s a totally understandable conclusion to draw, but it’s a complete myth.

We can spend our whole lives chasing the trappings of external validation – seeking more followers, likes, clients, money, square footage, gadgets – but these things, this stuff, can never cultivate a sense of enoughness.

Mostly because of the psychological phenomenon of ‘Hedonic Adaption’.

We humans, are hard-wired to adapt to changes in circumstances relatively quickly. And a metric tonne of empirical research and anecdotal evidence suggests that within a few months of any big positive life event – falling in love, getting a promotion, buying a new house – our levels of happiness will adjust, settle and return to ‘pre-positive event’ levels.

Hedonic Adaption means nothing outside of us, can bring a sense of lasting happiness.

The rumours are true: enoughness is an inside job.

Of course, most of us know this intellectually. And if you have ever visited a self-help website or opened a pop-psychology book, at some point, someone (probably wearing a flower crown and/or a macrame bikini) is going to tell you that you are enough, exactly as you are, right now, at this very moment.

Which is a perfectly lovely sentiment.

But what if you don’t believe it?

What if this doesn’t reflect your lived reality? What if you want to be, feel, do, have more, but you don’t believe you can?

This is exactly where I was a few years ago when self-doubt was running everything in my life.

I didn’t believe there was ever a way I could feel ‘enough’.

I doubted my whole self – I did not believe I had the ability to feel comfortable in my own skin, in my work, my relationships, my life.

And it wasn’t until I was willing to go into my self-doubt that I was able to find my way home to myself. I stopped looking outside of me for fulfilment and found the help and the resources to cultivate trust, acceptance and belief in myself.

The most surprising part of this whole process, is that there was no big epiphany, nor was there one sudden shift and then everything changed.

What made the difference to the real ‘bone-deep’ changes, were the seemingly small revelations and realisations I had. These helped me make connections between the formative experiences of my life, and how these stories had woven their tentacles into my adult life. I developed creative tools to share what I was learning.

And then I researched the pants off of self-doubt! I learnt about the neuropsychology behind it all and had my Masters research into self-doubt, published in an academic journal.

I coached with hundreds of women over several years – parents, creatives, leaders, coaches – and helped refine these ideas.

Self-doubt has been one of my greatest sources of growth.

This is my heart and soul work. And it works. I’d love to help you navigate through your self-doubt with Your Self-Belief Map. We start on the 1st of May.

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4 Responses to “the science behind the myth of enoughness”

  1. Hazel says:

    What about the self-doubt that reemerges when you age? The attitude of society towards the 60, 70, 80 somethings is heartbreaking. Suddenly you are invisible and irrelevant. No matter what you accomplished in your life, you are now ignored and discarded. The isolation is so lonely and enervating.

    This battle will face all of us who are lucky enough to grow old.

    • Sas says:

      Hi Hazel – thanks so much for commenting and this is such a great point. Even at 43 I noticing the changing attitudes of the world, so I expect this will only keep happening. But I am not relying on anyone else to help me feel good – happiness really is an inside job.

      My dear Gran was terribly lonely and isolated and I think she lost a lot of her confidence after Grandad died. And yet one of my good friends is in her 60s and she has just enrolled in art college! My Dad is 69 and he has just spent the last few weeks touring around India.

      So age isn’t a determinant of misery and I don’t believe it has to be a battle. It’s never too late to cultivate self-belief!

      • Hazel says:

        Thank you for your reply, Sas! I didn’t mean to sound so miserable. LOL I do have an interesting life now, full time RVing, birding, and photography.

        I still feel the changing attitudes but I WILL take away your view:

        “Happiness is an inside job.”
        “It’s never too late to cultivate self-belief.”

        Thanks for that!

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