Are you living out of abundance or emptiness?
Many of us try to do well. We want to be good at our jobs or good at school. We strive to be excellent mothers and fathers. We want to be a friend or sibling that people we care about can rely on and trust. There can be a big difference in what motivates us to be a good person or good at what we do.
For many acting out of generous love is easier in some situations than others. Someone might overflow with love for their baby, but do just enough not to get fired at work. That is the difference between doing well out of abundance or doing well out of emptiness.
When we are the best versions of ourselves, we will love out of our inner resources of compassion and gentleness and kindness. Our built in care and generosity just flows towards the people we value. In doing so, we build strong relationships as our the special people in our lives know that they matter to us.
When we act out of emptiness we seek to perform so that we do not lose what we have. It is not that we do not care for others, we just feel we need to make an anxious effort to maintain or earn approval. At the heart of this is often a part of ourselves that came to believe it is not good enough. There are often other parts of us that disagree and arrive at the rational conclusion that our relationships are secure. It is only when mistakes are made or people are disappointed that the old familiar hurt of not being good enough comes out. The anxiety comes flooding back, the inner critic trumpets another “I told you were not any good” and depression settles back in.
Unfortunately many of us have come to believe such negative things about ourselves through no fault of our own. Growing up our little child brains have to make sense of mistreatment, neglect or abuse. Often we conclude we are being treated poorly because there must be something wrong with us. The deeper we believe this, the more it hurts and unfortunately the easier it is to make the mistakes that reinforce that belief.
During counseling people inevitably get to a very crucial place where they have to decide whether they are going to forgive themselves and let go of the shame and negative beliefs about themselves. I say set go, because in our deepest selves we know we are not our mistakes, we know we are not defined by the mistreatment we received. There is goodness in us, generosity, creativity and compassion. In some lives it can be harder to find than in others, but it is there.
The parts of us that hold shame and negative beliefs are often reluctant to let them go. How come? There are man reasons but a few stand out. Sometimes we believe that we need to feel terrible about ourselves to motivate us to try harder so we will win or maintain the approval of others. Sometimes shame has become part of our identity. What little we have we are worried we will lose.
This is striving from a sense of inner emptiness. We keep the shame because it helps us perform to a point but there is a cost. Living this way is exhausting and leaves us vulnerable to being overwhelmed when life circumstances poke the wounds we try to protect. When we hurt, it is hard not to hurt others.
When we shed our personal sense of unworthiness and identify with the courage, compassion and generosity that exists in all of us, we ease the anxiety and relieve the inner ache. We do not need fear or anxiety to motivated to perform well, our innate goodness flows out of us towards others. We pursue excellence in our work and relationships out of abundance.