These are strange times. It can be tricky to determine what we are to do with all of this. We look around for clues and see others use this time to get in shape, clean their house, or write a book. Then you look at your own life and can’t help but feel lacking. You wonder: Should I be doing that too? I can barely get myself together enough to do simple things!
As long as we use other people’s metric, we’ll never feel like we measure up.
There’s a way around that. A way to never come up short.
Lower the bar to where you are.
Let me clarify, because I have long misinterpreted this idea.
Lowering the bar felt like failing, because it implied I couldn’t reach the bar I had set for myself, as though I was limited in some way. Like a basketball coach who lowers the basket for you, because you can’t jump high enough. Doing something at half speed made me feel as if I were offering “less than” my full self. My inner critic labeled that as “I’m not good enough.”
That felt so terrible I’d succumb to the conclusion that I’d rather not do it at all. Better to dial down to zero and not show up at all, rather than show up tired, crabby, flawed and feel “less than” while doing it. Better to hide from the world than to fail in public.
Now I realize lowering the bar means something else entirely.
- Lowering the bar doesn’t mean you’re failing. You’re succeeding simply by showing up anyway. You’re demonstrating you can adjust to the needs of the moment and adjust your ideas of what your action is supposed to look like.
- Lowering the bar doesn’t mean you’re not good enough; it means you changed your mind about what “enough” means. It involves deciding that you already are enough.
- Lowering the bar doesn’t mean you’re offering less than your full self. It just means you stop waiting to be at full steam. It means you work with however much steam you can allocate to any particular task in any particular moment.
- Lowering the bar doesn’t mean there’s “less” of anything. It means you just show more of who you are. It shows you don’t need to be at your best, give it your all, or pretend to be someplace you’re not. It frees us to show up with our flawed, tired, scattered, and scared parts.
We have the power to be fully ourselves under all conditions. That’s what it means to be fully yourself. Showing up fully has nothing to do with how good you’re feeling or how well you’re doing.
Lowering the bar means declaring: “This is what I’ve got today, and it’s enough.”
Imagine saying, “I can only give five minutes of my time and attention right now. That’s what I’ve got.” But then for those five minutes, you’re there for it. There as your flawed but full self.
Now we’re working with what we’ve got in the moment. Now we’re kinder to ourselves and become more available to those around us. Not more in quantity but in quality.
This means you don’t have to wait until the timing is right and conditions are perfect. It frees you up to be who you are. You can’t fail to reach it, because you’re already there.
Can you feel the relief in that? I know I can.
Only you can decide what enough is. Nobody else can do that for you.
You’ll feel enough when you yourself declare that you are.
When you feel like you’re already enough, you feel free and at ease. You’ll expand into new experiences, develop new skills, and you might even clean your house (don’t worry you still don’t have to). You’ll do it if and when it feels good to you. No longer pushed to expand, you now pursue it for the fun and joy of it. It becomes the cherry on the cake you already iced.
You’ll come from enoughness instead of trying to prove it through what you do.
With that I hope I’ve convinced you to lower the bar to meet you where you are.
Because what you’ve got, right here, right now is enough.