If a cause of mental illness is wanting too much, the answer is love.
I had some great conversations this weekend attempting to define love, seeking compersion, getting past feelings of worthlessness caused by a life goal being frustratingly unmet, and general inability to enjoy the things we’ve worked so hard to get.
Just an hour ago, I asked, rhetorically: If we won’t be satisfied, despite improvements and achievements, then what’s the solution?
Of course part of it is finding ways to get some of the things we want, even as half-measures. It’s being a unicorn instead of having a happy polyamorous relationship yourself. It’s writing songs with someone else instead of committing to a band. It’s making friends and valuing their presence, even if it’s not a white picket fence and children. It’s opening a hole in the wall bar to pass the time on weekends. (These are examples from four different people, FYI.)
And those half-measures help, they do. They teach us about our feelings of not-enoughness. They inform our moves forward and put resilience in the bank.
But levelling up means putting that resilience to work at the root cause of the Not Enough-ness. And the root cause is not enough love.
Of course accomplishing things won’t feel satisfying when you hate yourself. Of course you’re going to feel lonely, even in a relationship, when you’re holding out for something perfect.
But if you do meet goals, you can choose to celebrate them. You can cherish your temporary enoughness. If you try hard enough, you can love your accomplishments.
Love is not a willingness to overlook the Not Enoughness of a situation or a person. It’s accepting it, wholeheartedly, arms open, eyes open. When we look at ourselves or another person with love, we acknowledge intrinsic Enoughness. Forever Enoughness.
Instead of failures, mistakes or deficits or mismatches snap magically into their rightful place, something to be pursued tenderly.
When you look with love, you look at the long game. Because no matter what — even if it doesn’t work out and it never will — what you see is Enough.