There's this belief running freely that says "you can't have it all". And while I like the intention of reminding ourselves to be grateful for what we have, and not worry about what we lack, I think it also sets us up to feel bad for wanting more, working hard for it, and having more. (And by more I mean more of whatever you want - more success, more money, more joy, more love, more fun, etc). Perhaps because we live in a, generally speaking, overindulgent society, we are afraid that if we think we can have it all, we will simply be greedy. And perhaps a handful of actually greedy people have set that precident for what it means to "have it all". But what about the rest of us? This belief has us get caught in, this OR that. I can either be happy, OR I can be financially successful. I can either be a leader, OR I can be vulnerable and honest. I can either take care of myself OR I can take care of others. I can either have a monogamous relationship OR I can have lots of great sex. Ha! The list goes on!
A few years ago, I was in the car with a dear friend, who was driving. We had been driving for a few hours and it was hot and stuffy. I asked her if we could turn on the air, (not the AC, just the vents in the car), and she said no. I asked her why, and in a sort of judgmental tone she said something along the lines of, "I don't believe in being so comfortable when there are people suffering around the world. We can be a little hot." Now, in this example, she was definitely shaming me a little bit for requesting air in the car, and I was a much younger, less emotionally-intelligent Jessie, and I took this very personally. I took it to mean I was a bad person for having needs. I felt guilty and ashamed for wanting things that others couldn't have. But now, here I am, years later, long after that friendship has dissolved, reflecting on this incident. What is this belief? Why do we think we can't actually listen to our own needs and wants, because others don't have the ability to do so? And is it true? And does that make us a better person?
I say No. This belief comes from a mentality of scarcity. This belief is based on fear of not enough. But isn't it true that I am so much more equipped to help others when I take care of myself? And why do we think that if I take care of myself, I can't help others?
Well, I think there is an element of truth here that says, in order to truly understand another being, it takes some practical experiences. Perhaps, for example, a military veteran knows and understands more about not being able to sleep due to a war going on outside your home for days on end, than a professor living in sunny San Diego does. And perhaps therefore, that veteran could then be more empathic and compassionate to someone suffering in a similar situation. But, does the fact that the professor sleeps every night for 8 hours, add to that person's suffering? Does it make the professor a worse person for not suffering for and with the others? I don't think they are related at all actually. A person can choose to sacrifice for others, or adventure with some sort of challenge in order to understand the difficulties of others, but I do not think that us living our lives as fulfilled and lovely as possible, takes away from anyone else (unless of course in order to get there, we had to steal from someone else. That is a different story entirely).
So where does this come from? This scarcity mentality. This "not enough"...It comes from within us. It comes from feeling not enough. It comes from feeling not capable of having it all, so it becomes easier to say, "you can't have it all", than to own up to the fact that you can, you just don't. But here's the thing, if you CAN have it all, what does that mean? It doesn't mean that you're a bad person if you don't, or that you're not good enough - it simply means, show up for your life. Take responsibility for what you do and what you don't do, what you have, and what you don't have. Live with purpose. Take care of yourself, fully, so that you can really show up for others. Do not blame circumstances for the fact that your life is not the way you want it. Simply own up to what you can do to create your life the way you want it. And then CREATE IT.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be?...Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so others won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine...it is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
-- Marianne Williamson
Believe that you are capable of living your most extraordinary life. Take care of yourself AND take care of others. Be happy AND be successful. Have it all AND empower others to do the same. Don't let other people's fears shame you for showing up for your life. Have it all! AND be a good person too. :)