Am I Enough? The Insidious Afflictions of Modern Women’s Worthiness

March 7, 2021

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Last week a client & I were speaking about issues of worthiness. It’s a common theme. In my own life, in the lives of my clients and peers.

… is it enough?
… should I be more?
… am I too much?

Questions of worth that linger in the back of our mind & the pit of our gut. Those feelings of uncertainty that lead to us containing our brilliance, our voice & our power.

I know them well. This week I’m at a new erotic edge in my reclamation of worth & new-variants are emerging around a project I’m creating. Part of me thinks “Oh this, again, I thought I was through this…”, but in the past few years, I’ve come a loooong way in my analysis of why so many women (& humans, including myself) suffer this affliction & what we can do around it.

On the podcast this week (part convo, part workshop) we’re looking at:

  • The big picture: Why do so many of us have this story?
  • The role of capitalism & the value of different forms of labor in our understanding of worth
  • The (de)valuation of emotional & spiritual worth
  • The revolutionary work you are doing in rewriting how you experience your worth & the role of the community in supporting us to do it with more ease
  • How to work with your own stories of enougness & the skill of embodiment
  • Why these stories seem to “keep coming back”

During the ep I share a personal example of my own feeling lack-of-worthiness around my expression, voice & contribution. I also make a request – for us as a community to support each other in our vulnerabilities & reclamations so that we might validate & embolden the worth of each other. If/when you hear that request in the podcast leave a comment below & let me know how it landed for you (I am very grateful in advance).


Resources

TRANSCRIPT

Prefer to read? Here is the full transcript of the podcast episode:

A very warm welcome to our podcast today. Recently I was having a chat with some of the women, peer students that I’m working with, and we were speaking about the ways that feeling I am not enough can bubble up. I’m curious. Is there a situation in your life where you’ve been maybe questioning your worth, your contribution, your voice, questioning if you know enough, or if you’re potent enough, if you’re sensual enough, or magnetic enough, or embodied enough, or whatever the case may be?

One of the women that I was speaking with was sharing that there was just this sense in her body whatever it is that she had to offer or contribute, and for her, it was as a coach, it just wasn’t going to be good enough. And I can so deeply relate to that. Before I was a coach, before I was a practitioner of the embodied arts, before I had even done my earlier studies in energy medicine, all the way back in the day when I was a pharmacist, I remember speaking with one of my family members and sharing with them that I had this feeling, and I had this sense that at the heart of nearly every single spiritual or emotional struggle that we have, there is this question, this question of am I enough, which in another way is a question of our power, and it is a distortion of our personal relationship with our personal power.

And so, today on the podcast, I wanted to speak about how we can be in relationship with this challenge of feeling worthy, feeling enough, feeling too much which is another variant of the same theme. I want to speak in brief about some of the influences of where this has come from, how we can be in relationship with it, and some of the tools that I’ve found to navigate a path forward. As always, I would really love this discussion and this exploration today to be something that’s practical and useful for you.

And so, I would invite you as we kickstart this conversation today to take a moment and to think of a recent situation or a desire that you have where this question am I enough? Is it enough? Do I have enough of X in order to be successful with this? Take a moment to reflect on a recent situation or challenge around that to bring to our conversation today, almost as a form of workshopping it. I have a situation in mind that I’ll be sharing with you. So, you may or may not be aware, but I’m putting together a conference for later in the year. And the details around it are a little bit secret at the moment because I’m just really perfecting it before I share it with everyone. But in putting together this conference, there’s been a lot of wonderful experts that I admire and respect that I’m inviting to join us for some really useful conversations.

And speaking with other people, including women of such a high caliber, I’ve had this interesting experience of a question bubbling up within me. Oh, do I know enough? Is what I’m masterful in useful enough? Do I need to do more? Should I know more? Maybe I should be silent because what I have to contribute to this conversation isn’t as well-researched, or as PhDed as what this other person has to say. And as always, there’s a lot of nuance in any experience that we have. So, the nuance within mine is that it is important to tease apart what my areas of speciality are and to really speak to my mastery, and to hand the microphone over when there’s somebody more experienced that has something perhaps more… I don’t want to say valuable or well-researched, but to hand the microphone over when that time is due. That’s absolutely an important part of this conversation because I’m not an expert on all things, which is why I want to have these conversations with such high-caliber women and humans.

But at the same time, should I be perpetually silenced because there might be somebody else in the world with more authority than me? Does my voice or perspective or contribution count for nothing if somebody else has a more researched, for example, voice or perspective? Deep down, I believe the answer to that is no. But the only way that I can get to the heart of the truth at the question, am I enough, is to go into its heart, is to explore it and to pull apart the nuance and the tendrils of it. And that’s what we’ll be doing today. So, bring along your challenge. It might be a challenge that you literally hear as an inner voice of it’s not enough. It should be more. Or it might be a subtle way that you notice yourself silencing, diminishing, or containing your power as a human.

This is another way that the insidious affliction of am I enough can make itself manifest. So, one of the first questions that we might consider in this exploration is why is this here? How do so, so, so, so many humans have this question lingering within their bodies? I’ve coached with hundreds, probably hundreds upon hundreds of women coming up to around the thousand of women. And I can tell you more times than not, something along these lines will come up in our coaching sessions together.

Interestingly, my partner is a coach of a different form. He works with people who are interested in designing apps and complex user interfaces. So very different, some could say less spiritual, but I don’t know if I would actually make that call. Let’s just say a very different creative industry. And it’s very interesting because a lot of the work that he actually does with his students is exploring their feelings of being a fraud, their inadequacies, their crippling crisises around their confidence, and the exact same stories. Is it enough? Is my creative output enough? Have I done enough? Is it beautiful enough?

These exact same stories come up in many other industries and professions as well. I can even think of examples in my pharmacy career, and the very first time that I stepped onto a hospital ward being surrounded by a huge number of incredibly intellectual people, and wondering does this small little contribution that I have to make as this junior runt of a pharmacist, I’m like, “Who am I to be here? I don’t know anything. Is this going to be enough?” And again, as always, there’s nuance. There’s nuance in this. But an aspect of that question, I truly feel, is an innate disconnection from our power and our worth, not as something that we need to do, but as something that we are. Okay. So, here is a really important distinction that I want to repeat again. Not as something that we do, but something that we are.

And so, we have to look about, well, where does this disconnection from our worth as something that’s intrinsic to us, as opposed to something that we need to prove or demonstrate, where does this come from? I believe one of the key aspects in tracing back where this distant connection has come from… There’s a lot and I can’t possibly cover all of it in the podcast together. But definitely, one of the key aspects that has disconnected our sense of worth from our intrinsic self and relocated our worth into our productivity in the world has been the economic systems that actually exist around us at this time. We celebrate and our culture, our economic systems, revolve around the skills and the capabilities that make money. And money is, we describe it as value. It’s one of the key forms of transactable value that exists in the world.

And when we think about the way that our current capitalistic economic systems celebrate and make money, it is by pursuits of technology and the intellect. It is by pursuits of labor and hard work. If I think about the way that, for example, my family have made money. In addition to the intergenerational wealth that I’ve been privileged to receive, and that my family has received and earned, I come from an agricultural background and my family are farmers and have been farmers for many generations. And so, it is through laboring on the land that my family has historically generated money. And so, my family has really come to adopt the worldview that working hard, laboring on the land, spending long hours literally tilling the soil, this is how you define your worthiness, and this is how you define what’s important in life, by laboring.

Take another example here. So, for me as a pharmacist, one of the skills and the tools that I was trained in was to go and speak to people about drugs. And so, the majority of my week, besides the time I spent sleeping, the vast majority of my week, 40-plus hours, was spent speaking to people about how they could take their drugs. Was I passionate about that? Absolutely no, but that’s how I made an income, and so that is how I determined my worth. And I chose a career in hospital pharmacy because there was a certain amount of prestige associated with those pursuits of intellect and the monetary reward that they could create. And so a real sense of, at that time, a real sense of value in myself was created through the identity of my work and my labor.

And in this economy, in this worldview, this capitalistic worldview, a lot of the types of labor that more associated with the feminine… Now, I’m not talking about the female gender here. I’m talking about the feminine essence, the essence that is represented in Mother Nature, the essence that is the feeling, flowing, chaotic, fluid, emotional aspects of our human natures. These types of labors, the labors of let’s say growing and gestating, and birthing a child, that’s a feminine labor that is distinctly of the feminine gender, true. But also the emotional types of labor, the labor of tending to the care, and the spiritual, and the emotional nourishment of the family, and raising children, and emotional intimacy with your partner, these types of emotional labor, they have absolutely zero economic dollar value associated with them, unless they are professionalized. So, what I’m trying to speak about here is the idea that when a modern woman grows up, we are saturated with these economic norms that our value and our purpose in the world is through our job, our career, our profession, and our capacity to make money.

And so, when we relax the idea of reorientating that worth and exploring, well, if I don’t have a job that defines my worth and I don’t feel satisfied in my job, or if I don’t want the labor of my job to be the only way that I can access a feeling of worthiness, perhaps because I’m a woman who’s been resigned to a low-paying job or a job that is not seen as very “valuable” in these modern economic terms, then I as a woman, I as a human, I don’t have any measure to orientate my worth against.

A lot of these ideas are spoken about far more eloquently by other people than I. And what I’m speaking about now has recently been inspired by two different sources. One of them is one of my feminist scholars’ teacher, Dr. Kimberly George, and another is feminist writer, Silvia Federici. Both of these women speak at length, and a lot of what I’m speaking about now relates to feminist theory, and capitalist, and economic theory. But I think it’s very, very relevant to what I see every day in my coaching practice with clients, which is women who don’t want to assign their sense of worth purely through the means of their labor and their work, but women who are really questioning their worth as their innate self as a human.

And even that reorientation, that questioning of could I simply be worthy as myself without the need to demonstrate something, without the need to be hyper-intellectual, without the need to be the richest person on the block, could I still be of worth? And could the experiences of my humble life be something that is important, and desirable, and worthy? I think that this reorientating that women are doing is actually such, such, such important, important labor.

And so, when we individually struggle with this question of am I enough, I would really invite you to see that this question and this reorientation that might be incredibly challenging for you to grapple with on your individual level is also something that we, particularly, I see us women are grappling with collectively. And I think that in doing so, we are beginning to reorientate what our culture holds as important and what our culture sees as valuable. I see the emotional and spiritual work that you do in your body, in your family unit, in your community, in your culture, I see that as really revolutionary. And I would invite you to see it as a pursuit that is so bold and so brave, and so, so necessary, for example, if we want our children to grow up with a sense of their worthiness being intrinsic to them and not needing to be proved, or demonstrated, or performed, or monetized into a bank account.

Let’s just take a second there because that took a trajectory that I wasn’t necessarily expecting for this podcast. And so, in zooming all the way out to think about how this grappling with our worth is a form of embodied activism and a form of politics, in a way, let’s take a moment to zoom back in and examine some of the factors that influence our personal skills in actually meeting and exploring this grapple, this question, this am I enough.

I hope that by having a bigger analysis of this, which is a very incomplete analysis, but which is perhaps some food for thought that it fuels you to explore with more stamina and with more invigoration at the personal level. Because it’s true that this question of am I enough, if it’s coming up in the thoughts, or the feelings, or the little mind chatter in your body, then you, beloved, are the one who without choice and without even conscious consent have internalized the stories of our time and the stories of generations past, which is that in a lot of ways, you’re not enough. And it is only through your labor and your work for somebody else that you can demonstrate that you have any value to our economy.

We have all individually internalize this, and I want to give the little asterisk and disclaim that capitalism is not the only toxic system that contributes to this sense of unworthiness that so many of us feel, but it’s the one that I wanted to focus on today. So, if we have internalized this story, which I don’t know any woman that hasn’t. If you have somehow managed to not internalize this story, and it’s never come up for you at any point in your life, please shoot me an email and tell me where you were raised because I’m going to move there. And I acknowledge that there are cultures around the world that don’t perpetuate this story, but that’s not the culture that I was raised in. And this podcast, I know it’s listened to in hundreds of different countries and cultures around the world. So, maybe you genuinely and truly had a different upbringing. Hit me up. Let me know. I’d love to know.

But for me, perhaps for you too, in the way that I have been socialized and the way that I have been raised, and the way that the world has imprinted inside my body, I have internalized this story. And I have heard it so many times and seen it perpetuated in so, so, so many different ways that I’ve taken it so deep that it lives in every single cell of me. And this is why the story am I enough, I began to question it as if it’s something that is true in me when, really, I’m just mirroring what our culture is trying to tell us. And yet, because it’s in my body, it is my responsibility to unravel this story, to work with it, to move through it, and to rediscover the power that lives underneath it.

Because don’t get me wrong, this am I enough, this question mark, this question mark of worth, it is a way for us to keep ourselves small, and complicit, and docile. And that makes lovely working classes of people. So, it’s very practical on an economic level. But it is at a time now where you and I, we’re questioning this story because there is an ongoing and has been, again, for many generations, a restoration of power, not as something that we need to prove, but as something that we are. There are many different ways for us to personally work with this internalized story of am I enough and a different mechanism, a different tool, a different technology will work for different bodies. For me, the tool of personal, emotional, and sensual embodiment has been and continues to be the absolute number one most consistent way for me to transform and to transfigure this story.

And so, what does that actually look like? How do we actually do that? How does the skill of personal embodiment actually happen? Let’s take the example that I’ve been working with, this story of oh, should I not speak up because there are more eloquent and well-researched people to speak about this. If I had let that story win out, we wouldn’t have this podcast today. I hope this podcast is something that you’re finding enjoyable. If you’re still here listening with me and joining me for this conversation, well, I assume it is, but we’ll wait and to see what the feedback to this is. And do send me your feedback after you’ve listened to this podcast. I’d love to hear if something landed because that’s actually a really important part of these communal explorations. I would love your feedback because that sense of validation is actually something that reinforms what my body has navigated.

So, my body has used the personal tools of emotional embodiment to navigate my way towards letting my voice out. And if you complete a feedback cycle by actually saying, “Thank you for that expression,” it reaffirms to me that I am right for believing that my contribution has worth, that I am of worth, that this one, small, human, humble experience is worthy because I am worthy, and my voice is important as your voice is important. And when we use our voices together to feed back to each other, we amplify the importance that we hold and we unleash our power. So, please do send me some feedback if you’ve tuned into this podcast now, or at any time in the future.

How I got to this place of allowing that am I enough to be… I don’t want to say silenced and I don’t want to say fixed because I didn’t silence it. I didn’t ignore that question, and I also didn’t see it as a personal problem that I have to fix. I saw it just as a challenge. I saw it as the next phase or the next evolution of my growth. As I let my voice be expressed in a new and expansive frontier, this old story, it was like, if you imagine… How I like to imagine this is I’m standing at X marks the spot. And with each phase of growth that I take, and each way that I let myself expand and be bigger, and allow myself to take up more space or express more, or be more fully true within myself, I see these concentric circles around me growing so that, perhaps like me, you’re always on the path of growth. I feel like I’m always meeting a new frontier of growth. And so, this next concentric circle, it’s a previously unmarked territory.

It’s somewhere that I haven’t walked before, that I haven’t expressed or lived before. And so, this old story, am I enough, it just comes up for me on that erotic edge, that new and innovative edge. And while, where I’m standing at the beating heart of me, X marks the spot, I’ve already done transformational work around that story, am I enough. And in my roots, I know that I am. And that means that as I encounter this new erotic edge, this new circle of growth, I am really well-resourced to meet it. I’ve done this probably a hundred or more times before. And so, it’s actually a really simple process. But the process that I use, the skills of embodiment are still the same, whether it’s Ground Zero, and it’s my first time meeting this, or I’m at Circle Number 100, and it’s my 100th time meeting this.

And I think this is important to normalize, that there is no one moment where we meet and transform this story for good or forever because then our expansion and our growth has to end. We have to then stay stagnant and never do anything new or expansive or more. That’s not what I want in my life. I want new, rich experiences. I want to grow and expand in different dimensions. I want to open wider and experience more. And I acknowledge that in that opening wider, there might be new edges, new erotic edges of growth where I have to meet the same old stories that I might’ve thought, “Oh gee, I thought I was done with that.” And, you know, the truth is that I am done with that in my roots and at these first few circles of growth. But on my edge where it’s just new, I might meet it again. And that’s okay. That doesn’t make me broken, and it doesn’t mean I have to retrace all the way back to step one. It means that I’m building on the foundation that I’ve already solidified.

For me, when these questions arise, am I enough? Is it enough? Should I let my voice out? Am I worthy? Do I have something to contribute? Who will want to hear from little old me? Instead of getting busy and avoiding those stories or seeing their stories as something that I have to fix about me, instead, I view them and I see them as a part of me, a whispering within me that has simply forgotten the beauty and the power that I am. I see it as a tender, vulnerable part of me that wants to be brought close, held lovingly, reminded that it’s okay to feel this way and to let that part of me, that whisper of me all the way into my heart.

That’s what embodiment is, becoming sensitive to and loving all facets of ourselves, even those facets that are uncomfortable or that are vulnerable to name and to bring close. And so, in my exploration, but who would want to hear from me, I noticed all kinds of feelings and sensations accompanying that story. There was a sickness in the pit of my belly. There was a desire to be smaller. There was a desire to be silent. And there was a feeling of… You could label it like a little jitteriness, like an anxiousness, a buzzing feeling in my hands. And so, in letting this whisper, “Does anyone want to hear from me?” in letting myself bring it closer, I use that skill of embodiment which is sensitivity to really notice all of the ways that it shows up in my body, to notice the dimension of my thoughts, sensations, feelings, emotions, and energies so that I might really open wide to fully experience this story, and in loving it, allow it to return home to the beating heart of power that I am.

In this experience, this time, this erotic edge of growth, that took me a few minutes. And yet the very first time that I began to use this process and this practice, and this skill, it took a lot more tears, and snot, and howling, and wailing, and pain. Because with each micro healing that we add to our expansion of our power, we are building on the foundation of worthiness that has gone before.

And for me, when I first built that first initial foundation of worthiness, it was one of the most transformative experiences in my life that has created a foundation for so much richness. I’m not talking about monetary richness. I’m talking about spiritual and emotional richness. The richness that our economy does not value, but that is inexplicably and so important and valuable to me as a woman with a feminine essence who values the feminine in the world. That is a richness that our society doesn’t put a dollar value on, but that which I place as so incredibly important. And with each journey that we take, meeting, feeling, sensing, sensitizing to, and allowing all the way into our body, this story of am I enough, we allow it to merge with the deep power that does reside inside each and every one of us.

And so, now’s the moment for you to reflect on the situation or the challenge, am I enough, that you bought to mind at the start of today’s podcast episode. And I’m curious as we’ve spoken about the bird’s-eye view, the aspects of the political and the embodied activism, the big revolutionary change that this exploration is contributing to our culture, and as now we’ve spoken about it on the micro level, how does that actually happen in your body? And we’ve spoken about a few of the points and the tips here. There is a lot more to this science and to this technology, but I hope that from this macro and this micro view that there has perhaps been some shift in the orientation that your body is now holding around your worthiness, your enoughness. Because if there is one thing that I have learned to be true, it is that nobody else will give this to you. Nobody else can do this in your body. It’s your body. It is your sovereign temple that only your essence resides within.

This is something, this worth, it is something that you must take, that you must remember and reclaim. And that as more of us do it in our body, our bodies come together to remember this path, remember this way, remember this divinity that lives inside of us which has always been there and which will always be there. And so, it’s been a real joy taking this exploration with you today. And I hope that this conversation and this exploration has been fuel for you to remember all that you are because, woman, you are saturated in worth.

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