Those wonderful triggers! Of course that isn’t what I say when I find out that a job I applied for isn’t going to happen. Or when the huge corporation I had resumes posted to for several jobs that were under consideration suddenly closes its digital door. Suddenly, the end of the unemployment benefits looms larger than it used to, or so it seems. There I am, staring at the computer screen, looking at another rejection note. Or the huge bureaucratic screen that says, “You have no resumes posted under either of these e-mails.” Never mind that some of them were in their system for months now, and that I had sent the screen shots which showed that my e-mail address was not in the system, and the one that stated I couldn’t register under that e-mail because it was already used. Really?
I sit there, looking at the screen, realizing that my age is working against me. I’m not the only one. My brother-in-law has been going through this job hunt bull shit for 4 years, and he’s just a year or two younger. I feel naked. Disappointed. Frustrated. Like I am not enough.
I am not enough? Really? That’s what the shame likes to shout out. In this case, not young enough, and hell, there is an element of truth in that in some regards. I am however, physically and mentally complete, so I could even do my old carpentry job, just not as fast as the younger guys. I’ve learned to work smarter. I’m smart enough, hell, I know what I have. I don’t need to rationalize myself to myself, I know what I bring to the table. Right now though, I feel vulnerable, and feeling this way for decades made me want to numb that feeling. I am learning however, that the way through is not to run, not to numb.
Sure, I can state all the platitudes: when one door closes, another opens, stiff upper lift, your answer is coming and so on. They do however conflict with my emotions. So here’s what I want you to hear in my words this week:
First, the “I am not enough” story line is a lie. Shame is not true. The sense of not being enough is not truth. That’s the bus that drives us down Numb Street, from which the way back is long and arduous. There is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt has everything to do with breaking your moral barriers. Shame has everything to do with lies about you as a person.
Second, vulnerability is okay. It isn’t weakness. To steal from Brene Brown, it’s the birthplace of courage, creativity, and all sorts of other positive aspects. Even in business modeling such as LEAN practices, being vulnerable is a necessity. So despite what my shame is telling me, what I am really feeling is a strong place to be in. That feels weird, huh? This is strong? It is the birthplace….
Third, when you numb, you numb the ability to feel beneficial and positive emotions as well as the negative. Then the lies of shame get really loud. Oh man, I’m a pro at this, unfortunately. The cycle spiral starts there: you numb, and the lie whispers, and you reject positive expressions, after all, you’re not good enough to receive them. “If they really knew me…” they wouldn’t offer. So out I go and do something numbing and stupid and reinforce this bullshit. And then the added lie: “You fuck up being fucked up! That’s how worthless you are!” And that spiral just get’s tighter.
So join me in the Done Numbing Club. Let’s all feel strong and vulnerable. It is true that an opportunity will come my way. What I am doing right now might just be it. And I can feel vulnerable, happy, laugh, love, cry, be responsible, hug and get hugged, analyze, think, feel courage, fear and a million other things all at once. That’s the world I am recovering into. Because, I am enough.