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Publish With Pride

Why you need to define ‘enough!’ (and 3 ways to awaken from the trance of ‘not-enough’)

It was 3 years ago I began writing my current book. Here I am 3 years later, still plucking away trying to tidy it up and make sure all my sentences are strong, slightly playful, and everything makes perfect sense.


It feels like the narrative of my life up until now upon honest reflection. My incessant trying to make sure I have just a little more of an understanding of where I’m going, just a little better at this before I apply for what I really want. Always just a little more, before I can rest comfortably with myself.


In my talking to others on this topic, I get the sense I’m not alone in this?


With infinite scrolling, a warped perception of ‘happiness,’ advertisements selling us holes in our proverbial walls seducing us to buy gap-filler and islands being built from our consumptive remains; when do we come to realise and rest in the ever-present ‘enough?’ 


Let’s explore how this plays out in our lives and society at large, and 3 ways to begin to awaken from the trance of not-enough.


Firstly, let’s clear this up. We are exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually because the pace of this system we’re in and contributing to is for machines, not a tender, sensitive, divine human being. Our culture, until now has been built on lack. We are already enough, as we are, here. Rest up.


Oh but it’s so hard, I know. The pace of our environment, the familiarity with how it’s always been (since we entered this world), the expectations placed on us and, of course, the expectations we place on ourselves.


There, of course, are many-fold impacts of this thinking that extend well beyond our individual human lives. We just have to look at the rate of forest degradation, landfill overspill and dare I say, population inflation.


Defining and designing around ‘enough,’ seems that it would bring a much needed shift in thinking and the consciousness that is quite obviously causing havoc on many levels. 


Here are 3 ways you can start to shift from not-enough, to enough. 


Define ‘Enough’ For You


It’s not our doing, nor is it our fault – we are products of our environment – that we gauge the growth, success or fulfillment of our lives using external and extrinsic variables. So we can hold ourselves lightly for this, and also of course you’re reading this and know that you can choose a new narrative.


Usually, as Jung would shout, unless we consciously build our own network of beliefs and thinking, we will fall into subscribing to the collective unconscious – in this case, that measuring ’things’ and the external is how we gauge ‘enough.’ Furthermore, I’m not sure we’ve actually stipulated specifically how much financial growth or material possession is enough, so that would be an interesting start. Imagine if new companies had to define what enough growth looked like?


This process of defining enough for you can take many forms. Here are 2 suggestions:


  1. Define your guiding values and virtues. How do you gauge ‘enough’ and fulfillment internally, within yourself? We spend much of our energy and lives chasing and attaching to what is not here. To goals, dreams and ambitions that are inspiring and will be great, when. So bring it in, close to home, to what you can experience now.

    What are your Core Desired Feelings as Danielle LaPorte explains? There are also many online Values-Finder tests, many of them very similar, and all are just a tool to start to understand this for yourself more deeply. So have a Google. Most importantly keep this question alive in you as you navigate the next day or two, then reflect.

    This is a process of de-colonising your narrative around ’success’ and growth, and building your own inner-compass. By defining these core values, can you more precisely navigate the impulses and expectations that come your way?

  2. Literally define all the ’things’ you really need. Bring some Marie-Kondo to your life. Make a list of everything you ‘have’ in your home, office or even, life! Take inventory on one column. On another column, use a ‘+’ if it brings energy, ‘-‘ if it zaps energy, ‘=‘ if it is neutral. Then make some decisions!


Let us practice frugality, even if we may be ashamed of it. Let’s call into question that which we really need, to adjust our style and way of living not to the story we are told, but to our own, found in reflection.


Design Around ‘Enough’


Once you have some clarity on your sense of ‘enough’ internally and externally, then you need to put some structures and systems in place that make it a reality. Otherwise, we get vacuumed back into the default-mode – running around chasing un-examined and un-fulfilling desires.


Some things you might consider:
  • When will you cut-off from work-related tasks and thinking for the day? Give yourself more time and you will always find things to do. So by setting a cut-off time for your, you force yourself to focus on what matters most, and protect time to focus on other life-giving and restoring activities.

  • Decide on the activities that you might do that rejuvenate or restore you the most. Maybe it’s cycling, dancing, being in nature, reading. What are those 2-3 things for you? Where in your week can you schedule them in, and protect them with your boundaries.

  • Schedule in pockets of stillness throughout your day. This not only is great for your sanity, but will also enable you to catch yourself if you might be playing into the trance of not-enoughness. It will help you notice, reflect and re-connect to your inner-compass and values. 

  • Set a note in your email signature that you practice ‘enough’ and only check emails twice a day, or however often. Communicate your boundaries and systems so that the pressures on you are little lighter.


This brings me to the last point. A point that might just help us shift our cultural narrative and operating model.


Talk About ‘Enough’


With colleagues, family, friends. Let them know you have been reflecting on what ‘enough’ means to you. Share with them what you discovered as your inner-compass, and how you’re going to begin structuring your days. Maybe even share this article with them 😉 


Another important note is to pay attention to the content you post (and consume) online – especially Instagram (aka. the comparison engine). If you start the day with a dose of Instagram, it is likely you will fall into the trance of comparing and not-enoughness and this will bleed throughout your day. The trick is to catch yourself in this trance right at the beginning of this day – then remember it’s not true!


So check the content you are consuming. Is it selling you the story of not-enough, or is it reminder you that you are already enough, as you are? Whilst we build this internal muscle and until we can simply see the world around us through this lens, it is best to curate and moderate your intake 👍 


The more we bring this conversation to those around us, the more likely it is that the cultures we move in will start to take on at least a mild-form of enoughness. 


Let us learn to increase our self-restraint, to curb luxury, to moderate ambition, to soften anger, to quieten comparison, to soften into what is.


I’d love to hear, what spoke to you loudest, felt most useful or resonant in this piece? Is there anything you take away that feels most beneficial? Let me know as a comment, or send me an email to al@aljeffery.com.

Here’s to remembering our ‘enoughness’ and freeing ourselves from the trance.


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Why We Must Learn to Hold Pain (for the good of our lives, our communities and our planet)


“I don’t have a lot of words, but I have a lot of faith. I know the road feels low and winding, and we seem to need the pain to cut to the core, to emerge from the sleepwalk of despair and feel through the numbness of disconnect and indifference. But if we let ourselves feel this, we will be better for it.”

~Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams

Like every other morning here in Bali, I spent the first 30 minutes of the day in my room meditating, moving and reading. Starting my day slowly, giving myself the opportunity to ‘catch myself’ to become familiar with how I was showing up today before I step into writing mode. 


I finished reading, but this time as I stepped outside and closed the glass door behind me, the glass kept shaking. “Surely I didn’t close the door with that much force,” I thought to myself. It kept shaking, the roof started shaking, bits of straw falling to the ground. Cats and dogs started making their calls, phones ringing in the distance.


At this point I realised, this was an earthquake. Shit! A deep-bellied rumble, vibrating through my body. I could feel an all-mighty force coming through me, all the way from the belly of the Earth. It was unavoidable, unmistakable and deeply reminding. We are not the ones in control here.


So I quickly stepped outside into some open air, away from any structures that could have fallen. Slowly it came to rest, sirens sounding and lots of loud chatter in the surrounding houses.


I immediately, thought to myself, “we cannot hide from the rumble any longer. The pain, the challenge of our time.”


Ignorance seems easier. 


To meet the challenges in our lives and our communities, first requires us to acknowledge them. We must feel them, let them move us toward change.


So how can we hold the challenge and suffering in this time? 


Has being slammed by news items everyday, telling us of the prejudices, the violence, the inequality and the ecological degradation that exists in our world made us more sensitive to the matters of our time, or desensitize from these realities?


It is becoming very clear that to mobilize our communities in the ways we need, we’re going to need more than a newspaper headline, a viral tweet and a passionate conversation with a friend who cares.


We need to care.


We need to be moved, emotionally-driven, from the inside-out. Even if the carrot isn’t quite clear yet, we need to feel the proverbial stick. The carrot will become clearer as we begin moving beyond avoidance altogether.


I avoided my loneliness and my depression for the better-part of my teenage life. It ate away at me like maggots to a house. I’d make myself busier and louder to distract myself from my inner-reality. I’d chase more awards, try and fill the gaping holes I felt on the inside with badges and remarks of “going well thanks, just super busy.” It was simply too overwhelming to face. 


The rumble was most-definitely there, but I’d put my noise-cancelling headphones on and go about my life.

“The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world.”

– Joanna Macy


Until it bursted and I had no choice but to get to know it head-on. Either I could avoid it some more, allowing it to find more cunning, confronting and oft-timed ways of signaling my attention, or I could feel it. 


From avoidance, to acknowledgment, to acceptance, toward action.


I chose to do that which I’d dreaded for almost 5 years, to come to know myself in this rumble. As I moved from avoidance, to denial, to anger, through patience and practice, arriving at acceptance; I became lighter, connecting myself in a new way. Connecting to what is here, instead of the endless dance to try and avoid it at all costs.


Acceptance doesn’t mean that I’m ok with it being how it is and I’m not going to actively try to mitigate or heal it in some way. Acceptance, means I’m no longer wishing it was some other way, no longer ‘othering’ it. From this place of ‘befriending’ I can then begin the process of healing.


When we deny or repress our pain for the world, or view it as a private pathology, our power to take part in the healing of our world is diminished.


To be honest, I’d say that I’ve only emerged from the other side of this journey in the last 6 months. With it has come a profound sense of empathy and compassion for the collective manifestation of this pain within me. 


As I allow myself to feel the loneliness in my, I feel the loneliness and isolation in the world. As I feel the ways I’ve been shaped or influenced by a culture with certain views on queer-ness, I feel the weight of our cultural inequalities. 


Holding even when it seems all too much.


I don’t have too many answers for this inquiry just yet, but am compelled by the question. What I do know is that by coming to open to the pain and difficulty in our own inner-lives, and learning to hold ourselves with compassion, we will naturally build a compassion and resilience that extends far beyond the confounds of our individual lives.


So a question to you:


How can we let ourselves open to feeling the realities, be present to them and allow them to move us and galvanize us into action? What might this do to healing our own lives and the planet we share? 


I’d love to hear your thoughts, feelings or experiences. How important is it that we come to touch and sense the challenges we face? Leave a comment, or email me at al@aljeffery.com.


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The Vulnerable Leader

Dis-entangling Our Creative Confidence (a Powerful Reframe and a Potent Practice)

At some point we have to start dis-entangling our creative confidence again. Otherwise, we’ll all end up with all of our genius, our stories and our wisdom locked up and hidden from a world in desperate need of just that.


In these last few days, and through my writing practice, I’ve been reflecting on the ways in which my creativity and confidence in my voice has become a little more guarded (to put it lightly) than when it was, say, in my teenage years.


I’ve always been slightly more introverted and shy in social situations. One-on-one conversation with someone and I love it, room of over 20 or so, and I love it. If I can’t see the people I’m sharing with though, or if it is between 3-16 people, I feel the trembles and end up fumbling from one word to the next carefully choosing my way through my thoughts.


However, I was flung into my public speaking career at the age of 14. You know the high-school ‘motivational speakers’ that give usually overly zealous pep-talks to high-school students about the future, dreaming and following them? That was me. By the time I was 19 I’d done two TEDx talks, and not on ‘motivation’ or  even ‘inspiration,’ but on topics that were close to my heart, they were slightly vulnerable.


My first TEDx, in Boulder, was on designing eco-systems for collaboration and modeling our systems of nature’s brilliance and intelligence. Jason, the curator and I had connected 5 weeks prior to the event and he’d asked if I wanted to be a speaker, if I was ok with only have 5 weeks to prepare. Of course, I said yes!


Every Monday, we’d get on our coaching call to refine and rehearse my talk. Every Monday, I’d let Jason know that I would prefer to only “plan a little structure, and allow the rest to unfold on stage,” much to Jason’s dismay. I had such confidence, such self-belief, ungirded!


On the day, I stood up there, I delivered. Afterwards, I recall going back to the green room and feeling completely surprised, by breath felt steady the whole time, my words clear, my pace even.


Now though – and you may relate to this – even posting this, sharing a Facebook story or speaking into a circle of 30 people and I feel a much greater sense of judgement or expectation right before the words leave my mouth. It feels as though with age, comes the expectation for complexity and for the profound.


“Why are you allowed to be here?”


I love complexity, I appreciate it and appreciate the appreciation of it. Yes, as we age, we do have almost an obligation to refine our worldview, build more robust and wholesome foundations for our opinions, but wow is it paralyzing sometimes.


It’s not surprising to me how confident I was back then. It’s surprising and confronting to me, how quickly this confidence get zapped right from underneath us. I feel it in my naval, my gut, my pelvis.


This is a practice of courage, right? To meet the fear of being seen as we are – human, messy and always changing – and in this still practice telling the story on our hearts. Telling that which needs to be told, in order for us to feel truly in our integrity, and to honour that which is inside us. 


It’s a muscle, it can be trained in the same way we isolate the bicep and do those curls. Although, I do prefer whole-body, body-weight training 😉 


In a world in a complex, ambiguous, volatile and uncertain state, we need complex solutions. The solutions to today’s challenges need to be networked, systemic and integrated across social, political, psychological, ecological and economical. Complexity is required, so too is collaboration and diversity – this is what makes ideas complex. 


We need to return to the playground!


For collaboration and diversity to occur and be practiced, we need to start to bring play and experimentalism to our work and lives. We need to start to learn to face the rumble, notice it and choose to create or share despite it. We need to build a resilience to the rumble. This way we start to unfurl our own ideas and creative genius, and in doing so create spaces for others to do the same.


So, let’s bring it home for you! What is a context or environment that you feel yourself contract and creative confidence a little stifled in? Is it at work, specific friendship circles, a specific person. Choose one context.


Let’s make it a little play-work to bring these practices and reframes to that context for you 😉 


A reframe to help shift the narrative:


When it comes to sharing something vulnerable or creative yourself, you might hear this little birdy, “if I share this, will they still like me?”

When you hear someone else sharing something vulnerable or creative, you might think to yourself, “wow, that was courageous, good on them!”


What does that tell you? We are of course, our worst critic! That swarm of mosquitoes that comes around with us nit-picking and correcting, trying to protect its identity.


So here’s the real reframe:


For most of us, we carry an identity that we’ve crafted to belong, to fit into the culture in which we live. For me, this identity is, “I’m someone who has everything together, has my answers all clear and no real challenges of unknowns.”


So how do you think this makes me feel when I stand at the edge deciding whether to share something or not? My whole identity is at risk. 


What if instead of setting myself up with this large, slightly-unrealistic, and very de-humanising vision of myself, I held myself in this way: “I am a human. I have my flaws, I have my imperfections. I have valuable perspectives, real experiences, and value to add.”


Wouldn’t it be a little lighter to hold ourselves like this? Wouldn’t it make leaning into the unknown a little more human and acceptable?


A whole-body, body-weight practice to help grow that courage muscle:


Ask yourself, where in your body do you feel the nervousness, the contraction, the fear?


Now ask yourself, where in your body do you feel the reframe above, the openness, compassion and playfulness? 


For me, I feel the rumbling in my gut and my mind. I feel confidence and playfulness in my naval and my hips. 


Playtime! So let’s try it out. Next time you are in the context you reflected on and identified above, checkin with yourself. Where am I feeling this contraction? Am I telling a story that doesn’t serve? 


Can I breathe and feel into the part of my body I feel confidence, strong and playful in? Can I reframe this narrative and arrive in a sense of ease and compassion for my very human-nature?


Not only does feeling confident and lively in your creativity feel freeing, liberating and strengthening it will actually make you more lethal, valuable and irreplaceable in the workforce (secret!). It will also bring a greater sense of meaning and fulfillment to your work by being more able to contribute to meaningful challenges and feel a part of solving them. 


Here’s to reframing our creative blocks and rumbles, to strengthening our courage-muscle and bring that playground to back to our work and lives. 


What spoke to you loudest in this piece? Did something resonate strongly or feel most relevant for you? I’d love to hear – leave a comment below, or email me at al@aljeffery.com.

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