Recently, I saw Hamilton on Broadway. Like many others, I’m obsessed with the soundtrack. I’ve gotten so into it that I now know the tracks word for word. One song on repeat is “That Would Be Enough.” Two lines in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s brilliant lyrics drive a stake into my heart each time I hear them: “Where you decide to stay. And I could be enough.”
I suspect I’m not alone in still occasionally getting lost in the narrative that the approval of others is a necessary ingredient in life. We believe trying to impress each other — society, especially the people we think we need most — is our best strategy to all things good: safety, security, love, happiness and success.
Yet when we are lost in the pursuit of happiness, love, admiration and approval, what do we think? We believe what we seek is “out there” – and in being “out there,” we move out of our authentic selves and into “I-need-to-get” mode. Or “I need to preserve” mode. We begin pursuing, instead of allowing all that we already are breathe freely.
In pursuit mode, we too often walk around asking (often subconsciously) a stream of questions to monitor our position in relation others: What did he/she think of me? Did he/think I was smart, successful, attractive enough? Why did I say THAT? If I’d only said THIS instead. Why didn’t he/she return my text? Did I do something wrong? On and on it goes.
It is a constant scanning to try to determine where we stand. Are we gaining or losing ground? If we believe we are gaining, we feel great. If we believe we are losing, we feel lost and very easily move into manipulation mode to try to regain some sense of illusory control: little strategies we’ve perfected over the years to attempt to gain admiration and approval. The real irony, though, is that this constant struggle to win love and approval or to ensure we don’t lose it, blocks the actual experience of it.
Enoughness isn’t determined by others. It’s entirely our own to define and own.
There’s a Buddhist saying: “If you meet the Buddha on the road kill him.” For a long time, I struggled with what this meant, but now I realize it is an invitation to know that my power, my authority, my enoughness is from the inside out – not the other way around. It’s an open and ongoing invitation to constantly question: just how many Buddhas are in my life? In other words, how many people or outside influences do I feel like I need in order to be enough? The truth is, there in only one Buddha – and I am that. You are that too.
Knowing this. Living this. It is here that real and authentic connection, real safety, real happiness, real love exists.
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