Pushing her dinner plate away after a nice meal, my mother would always say, “thank you, I’ve had sufficient” even if one more spoonful of food meant that the serving dish would then be empty and ready for an easier wash. She didn’t coax any of us to have second helpings either. In her proper British way my mom had an inkling of what many of us are revisiting now as innate truth – that enough really is enough.
It’s much more likely today to hear someone say, “I’m stuffed. I couldn’t eat another bite”, rather than “good though that was, I’ve had sufficient”. While it was eating habits that made me think about this the other day, it’s really only one symptom of the systematic amputation our notion of sufficiency has undergone, beautiful art form that it once was and can be again. It can be witnessed at the core of worldly malfunction – the fact that we’ve been clamouring for a seat in what we falsely perceive of as a theatre with a limited number of good ones available. It’s this inbred sense of lack that has created the insatiable desire for more than we need – supremacy played out in political maneuvering, war, greed, with the fallout – poverty, homelessness, joblessness, famine, drought, eco-ignorance and disconnection from the natural world as the spoils of the ‘winning’ campaign. Centuries of scarcity mentality mutated in the genes, born from the illusion that there’s not enough to go around seems to explain better than anything else why we humans are in such a mess. When self-sufficiency is the super power within that gives us the independent choice to respond to circumstances of genuine scarcity with a new plan, rather than focus on what is before us that was created out of ignorance from thoughts of fear-based lack – and we have been cut off from this truth – that’s a true crime against humanity if ever there was one, in my book.
We come into the world downloaded with sufficiency. Some don’t have more of it than others – in fact it’s not a measurable quality at all. It’s a feeling, more accurately an entrusted knowing, that not only is there enough in any and all circumstances, but that we are enough – strong enough, intelligent enough, resourceful enough, resilient enough, self-loving enough, open enough, to find the silver lining in all seemingly tarnished events. When we call ourselves on the relentless barrage of lack that in its many forms filters into our experiences, only then can we tap into the helpful and very real vault within containing the gift of our own self-sufficiency. We are each of us the saviour we’ve been hoping would come to save us.
As a determined, yet far from star pupil at the practice of returning my attention more and more to this inner resource in favour of going down the rabbit hole of woe, I can’t help but notice a few things. Although there’s no lack of dark divots to the unknown on which to twist an ankle, what’s good about things going to hell in a hand basket is that since doing things the old way clearly isn’t working for most of us in any sustainable sense, the ancient, sleeping, giants within our beautifully sufficient selves are being nudged awake, sometimes not so gently.
I’m also starting to understand, integrate more deeply, that money – still regarded by many as the root of all evil acquisition that is for some for some a taunting tattoo of lack, is simply symbolism – a wizard behind a curtain, or an inert graphic that we manipulate into the black or red by describing and making manifest the tale of abundance, or lack, that we’ve been used to telling over and over. Our awakening, sufficient selves can slowly unravel just how much fear on which we’ve been focusing, however unconsciously, in favour of creating a different, kinder, more consciously connected reality as we see more and more clearly how co-creation really works and how fear has both controlled us and led us astray in equal measure.
The fictional story of insufficiency passed down in my family that until recently I’ve been retelling, is that you have to work very very hard to be successful, but who you are, no matter how talented, or decent, or thoughtful, or unique will never be enough. That there are tons of such people and you are simply a spec amongst them – remember that before you get too big for your britches. The odds of succeeding in this unfair, unjust world are like winning a lottery. But dear God, pretend that that’s not true, go through the motions that you believe hope exists, that there’s a chance even. Pretend, even though we all know how this is going to really turn out and never, ever let anyone see you sweat. When you fall, get up and act like nothing happened, no one’s looking anyway. Don’t give anyone the satisfaction of seeing you hurt, just in case they are glancing your way for one miraculous minute, as that will only be a fluke anyway.
We all have it, a false family folklore like the one I described, that for each of us inheritors has its own spin. It can seem like a full-time job deconstructing the tales we retell, straining the fear out of them through the sieve of every negative thought we’ve ever had in order to set them aside for observation and eventually, disposal. My mom understood the sufficiency concept where food was concerned and she must have sensed how strong she really was, she just didn’t understand the mechanics of why she was truly strong – and where all of the real power lies, in the enough-ness of trusted self-sufficiency.
I know back then when my mom used the word sufficient I misunderstood it (and her), taking it to mean a kind of limitedness being imposed in direct opposition to my more go-for-the-gusto nature. I lingered on the root of the word, suff too long, me and my high school latin did, wrongly decoding sufficiency as a form of low grade suffering, lowered expectation and over-simplification of complexity. My perceptions and I stand corrected. Sufficiency has nothing to do with settling, or not having goals or setting out to achieve them out of stoic resolve to ‘make do’. Suffice it to say that sufficiency is the internal blooming mechanism deep within the flower that rallies the potential for everything good in us to grow after we’ve called ourselves on the fear of lack that’s kept the bud tightly coiled all along.
I’m currently working very, very hard (old habits and all) on a new-ish plan. I pack lack’s suitcase for the journey back to unhelpful. I find myself having to redo my packing job some days but it’s getting sufficiently neater all the time.
Copyright 2014 BigBangLife.org Lizzie Shanks