The Paradox of our times
A few days ago, I was watching a movie set in medieval times and I found myself reflecting on something that is constantly in front of my eyes, but perhaps that's why I fail to see it.
The twenty-first century is a time of amazing opportunity. If we don’t go into the specifics of a few isolated nations, as a whole we are no longer repressed by society, no longer the property of someone who has absolute power over our destiny, we have resources and technology, learning, information, culture and education available to almost any social level, but, and this is the paradox, we are perpetually crushed by fear, the stress and the belief that we are not enough, that we do not have enough, that we are always a step behind where we would like to be.
You live as the slave of what you imagine to be the expectations of this modern society: that you should be smarter, fitter, richer, brighter… you should be more, more, more.
We are the unconscious prisoners of this lack mentality, when in fact we are the most prosperous, most privileged, most spoiled generation in history. But we are used to seeing only what we do not have.
You do this because you are conditioned to believe that “you are not enough" and, as such, you do not deserve the love and attention of those around you. The simplest solution you find to fill that void is to want more things or more achievements. You think that accumulating objects or results will cure that unconscious sense of loss that you have inside.
I know this well. For me, the cure has always been to achieve increasingly better results, to accumulate admiration and praise as a surrogate for love, but, unavoidably, reaching them generated unconscious anxiety about finding something else to achieve in order to give continuity to my emotion. It is easy to understand how such an attitude can soon become a drug or an obsession. All our addictions (food, work, shopping, smoking, alcohol, drugs, obsessive sports, perfection) actually have the same root: our personal sense of inadequacy that drives us to invent ways to feel like we are enough.
It is a shame that this "feeling enough" is such a fluid and unstable feeling, and the more you achieve the more you feel the need for more, forcing you into a chase that will never end.
The only real cure that solves the problem is to accept that you are enough. Because you are, only no one has taught you so. It is socially more convenient to keep people in a state of dependence and weakness, but nowadays we really have the means to go beyond any conditioning we have received. Currently, no revolution is needed to gain freedom. The freedom of the twenty-first century is called “choice”. Freedom to choose what to believe, knowing that what you believe shapes and models the reality you experience every day.
There is always a reason why you first began to believe you were not enough. For me it was my father’s disapproval. I desperately wanted his recognition and approval, and the fact that I never got it was not due to my results. It was his problem, his inability to express his feelings that I transformed into my castration. I did not have the capacity to understand this when I was a child. But now I do. And as I see it and as I understand it, I also choose not to play that game anymore. This is what it means to grow up: stop believing what looked real in your child eyes. Growing older is not simply about adding years to your age, it is about getting rid of dependency, whatever name it has.
I believe this is the true passage that will also cure the paradox of our time: in growing beyond your childhood conditioning, in believing that you are enough, you will finally realise that all you really need is available and ready inside of you and you will feel excited to get the most out of it.
(Pic courtesy Flickr - Amanda Tipton)