I have had this postcard, drawn by John Callahan, for many years in my "Food for Thought" binder which contains words and pictures to laugh, cry and be inspired by. Every time I read it, I laugh out loud. I think it captures a sentiment felt by so many people: life is not measuring up to your expectations.
Are you making the money you thought you would be at this point in your career? Do you love your home, life, spouse, kids and delight in waking up each day? Do you feel you have lived up to your true potential and found work that moves and inspires you? Are you in excellent health? Are you kind to others, ethical and compassionate?
If you are like most people, you may have a hard time answering yes to all these questions. It may feel impossible to get to such a place of happiness. From personal experience, I know it is possible to get there. It didn’t come from years of therapy or painful, difficult and time-consuming personal work. It came as a subtle shift in my own thinking.
Because I made some poor choices earlier in my life, I used to beat myself up for not figuring it all out. My inner dialog was something like:
"What is wrong with me? I know better than this! Why am I choosing to do something that I know is not good for me? Why can’t I figure this out?"
As soon as I would voice those words, I would feel my throat tighten up and a pit develop in my stomach. My head would get light and I would feel off-balance and ill-at-ease. This did nothing to make me want to change my behavior, in fact in most cases it made me want to do something destructive like eat a pint of ice cream or buy an expensive outfit or electronic gadget that I really didn’t need.
One day things shifted. I spent a lot of time in meditative prayer, searching for peace and understanding. Then I received a gentle message:
There is nothing wrong with me.
I don’t need to be fixed, doctored, taped up or altered.
I have not always made good decisions in my life. I stayed in relationships that were not good for my soul or mental health. I spent too much money and didn’t save enough in my 20s. I wasn’t always the best daughter or granddaughter or friend that I could be.
But my essence, my spirit, the me that was born to my Mom and Dad almost 40 years ago, is perfect just the way she is. Just knowing that has brought a tremendous sense of peace to my life. I am happier, freer, more joyful and more appreciative of the lessons I have learned. And as I have internalized this feeling, my life has grown and flourished just the way I hoped it would. I met and married an amazing, loving man. We have beautiful children. My work is fun and inspiring and challenging. I adore my home. Prosperity abounds. Personal and family relationships are healthy and loving. Life is good!
So no matter where you find yourself at this moment, no matter how many mistakes you have made or opportunities you have missed or hearts you have broken, please know that you are perfect just the way you are. There is nothing wrong with you.
I hope you take this thought with you into your weekend and feel the joy and peace that it brings.
Beautiful post. I love your honesty, and believe your message is spot-on!
Here’s to gratitude and compassion for self.
I just stumbled upon this post from a post on the Zen Habits blog. How crazy is it that in my whole life that thought has never ever occured to me???
I am always on a mission for self improvement. Always ambitious. Always trying to fix things.
Thanks for a very powerful thought. I will muse upon it for a time.
Pam, I found you through mutual friend Bob Walsh, and read first your bit on discovering what you are meant to do and There is Nothing Wrong with You. Truly inspired.
Guy Kawasaki talks about entrepreneurs wanting to change the world, and I think that’s part of it. The shadow side is many discover a changed self through the entrepreneurial experience.
I had invested all of my post-grad life into one old Bay Area tech firm, a company known for being deeply committed to its people. My star was tied to a much loved CEO, who left for his own good reasons. Those close to him were quickly packaged out.
A man in complete free-fall is an ugly thing. I was the essence of Kieth Reid/Procol Harum’s Conquistador. Emerging from depression I knew one thing about myself, that I was best when “of service.” Fortune smiled, and I found myself doing turn-around work for mid-sized company. There could have been no better tonic than saving thousands of jobs while reinvigorating an old business. By helping rebuild that company, I could feel the old mojo return.
Since then I have worked with many entrepreneurs who have that same quality. While trading risk for reward, while, as Guy says changing the world, they are at their best when they are of service.
Not only you ask yourself such questions. The important aspect is to find answers and be calm that everything with you is OK. Best regards.
It is so easy to become disillusioned, if we allow ourselves to. Pam, you made a great point about shifting your thinking. At the end of the day, that is what it comes down to. Our thoughts dictate our actions, which ultimately translate into our realities. Learning to control our thinking patterns takes discipline, but is worth the effort. We are all special, with unique gifts and aptitudes. Personal exploration and growth should be an ongoing adventure; and we should all take solace in that fact that although we may struggle at times, we are always learning.
Another great post, Pamela. You have so many posts that are quite inspirational. This is the first time I’ve come across your site, but it’s been a real pleasure reading your stuff. Keep up the good work.
There Is Nothing Wrong With You
There is nothing wrong with me either. There is nothing wrong with anyone just because they don’t agree with me or feel the way I feel. Have you ever had a hard time having a good, respectful relationship with someone
It’s true, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I have never need to hear that “there is nothing wrong with you” more than right now. Thanks.
I am so happy that you stumbled upon Seamus and my blogs! In my book that was no coincidence. You will find that the more you love and accept yourself, the more in tune you will get with your own intuition. Then, as if by magic, the right people, information and opportunities will fall in your lap. That is just how it works!
Good luck and thanks for stopping by!
No worries Celia – I’m glad that you’ve been finding your path to self-acceptance 🙂
Its kinda funny, but I was attempting meditation today as I have finally figured out that that is the one thing which can lead to my inner happiness. And the thought that popped up during my meditation was that I was a precious human being (a thought which I never seriously entertained before). Seeking free music downloads to help me with my meditation I stumbled across the previous poster’s site/blog which then also led me to this blog, both of which echoed the thoughts of my earlier meditation! So thank you both Pamela and Seamus for reconfirming what I just discovered!!
Rock n’ roll! Great post Pamela! You totally get it. The key to happiness is accepting yourself as you are now and realising that you are inherently perfect TODAY. I got all inspired reading this post and spun off my own post to my personal development blog here:
What a wonderful post! I recently attended a workshop that talked about the power of questioning one’s thoughts, and I thought this was just a great example. In a way, suffering comes from allowing destructive thoughts to go unexamined. Given that these kinds of thoughts will probably never ever stop coming, the very best we can do is to meet them with “inquiry” (according to the workshop lead by Byron Katie.)
I thought the process I learned was just a tremendous short-cut to an enlightened end-result.
I also think that being a successful solo business owner is all about finding ways to master these thoughts.
I love cartoonist John Callahan’s take on disability, which I don’t think many ABs (able-bodies) get. Having a physical disability myself, society typically instantly sees something wrong with me, that I am less than perfect or broken. Whereas, in fact, it is actually that attitude of perceived less-ness that becomes my disability. That perceived brokenness or worthiness becomes a barrier in accomplishing so much. Among other things, it hinders me in finding employment, which is the main reason I became a solopreneur.
I know there is nothing wrong with me. I simply need to get the message out to the rest of the world.
Thanks for this. It’s important to remember I am human, and subject to errors. That’s OK, too. Good stuff.
Yes, I know that there’s nothing worng with me, but I still keep hearing my father’s voice shouting that’s my fault. I can still hear my mother’s voice telling ‘do not do anything outstanding, fly low’.
That’s how bad parents habits can spoil even a middle aged home/working life.
Very Inspiring Post. I think we all feel like that sometimes!
This is an excellent post. I answered “no” to some of your questions as I was reading. You are right. There is nothing wrong with me. I am going to say that to myself all day, all week, all month until I know completely that it is true.
Pam, you have done it again. A great and very insightful post that everyone can relate to. Last night I posted on my blog about the idea of “Creative Living,” and talked about what it means if we don’t achieve our goals. This fits in quite nicely. Life is about the journey more so than the destination. What we learn along the way is the most important thing.
Thank you. This is just what people should remember to remind themselves sometimes.
I have a short story (in Hebrew…) in my site, that describes a person with exactly the same problems you described here.
I’ve put the link to your post in the end of the story, for anyone that seeks comfort.
Your posts have been a source of inspiration, optimism and motivation ever since I have started following them a few weeks back. Your writing reflects tremendous insight into the individual psyche and most importantly, a positive attitude towards life that is so heartening to read. Just wanted to leave a note of appreciation and I hope, someday, I will be able to credit you with having inspired me to escape the cubicle nation I currently inhabit. 🙂
I really enjoyed your honesty and even vulnerability in this post.
The challenge I see with many people including myself is the frustrating question of “How can I be great in so many areas of my life, but completely fail in _____ are of my life?”
This really helps when trying to deal with others as well. I think that sometimes we focus a lot on what’s wrong with others and let it get to us. There’s nothing wrong with them either, they’re just themselves and the way they are is their perfection.