You Are Enough

How self-compassion can change the world.

Posted Jul 23, 2020

You are enough.

Do you believe me?

In a world that convinces us that we are not good enough, it is hard to believe. We are taught to always strive for improvement, to never be satisfied with what we have, that anything less than 100% is a failure.

This is particularly true when it comes to our bodies. We are bombarded with messages about how we should be thinner, fitter, Whiter, bustier, have a bigger ass, smaller waist, look like the photoshopped images we see around us. It’s not surprising that 91% of women are dissatisfied with our bodies. We spend over $72 billion on weight loss products desperately seeking to change our bodies. The average dieter goes on four to five diets per year (a statistic that speaks volumes to the ineffectiveness of dieting). Thinness is virtuous, restriction a sign of fortitude and superiority. And, of course, the opposite is also true; fatphobia runs rampant. A recent study showed that, in the midst of a global pandemic, 40% of people agreed that it would be worse to gain 25 pounds during quarantine than to become infected with COVID-19.

None of this works. Hating ourselves doesn’t lead to change. It just keeps us caught in toxic cycles of dieting, obsessing about food, feeling out-of-control, and feeling shameful.

And that is exactly the point. Our culture is heavily invested in keeping us focused on shrinking our bodies instead of taking up space in the world. As Naomi Wolf says in my all-time favorite quote from The Beauty Myth:

 A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.

This is why I believe that mindfulness, in particular self-compassion practice, has the ability to change the world. Self-compassion is an intentional practice that changes the way we relate to ourselves and the world around us. It helps us approach ourselves with a fundamental sense of kindness, striving to care for ourselves in the best ways possible. Self-compassion is the antidote to the shame that our culture instills in us. When we can embrace the truth that we are good enough, that we are not broken, that we are not a problem to be fixed, then everything starts to shift. We see more clearly the world around us.

If you are ready to start practicing self-compassion, check out these resources. Psychologist and meditation instructor Tara Brach offers a number of free resources on her website to learn the RAIN technique for self-compassion practice. Kristin Neff, a psychologist, meditation instructor, and self-compassion researcher, also has a wealth of free meditations on her site. Liberate is a meditation app by and for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC)—a much-needed addition to the meditation community.

Of course, we can’t meditate ourselves out of oppressed states but mindfulness can help us change the way that we see the systems of oppression around us. We have to first see where there are chains before we can break free. When we can step into our truth that we are good enough, exactly as we are in this moment, we are able to stop spinning our wheels in a never-ending quest for “self-improvement.” We clear the schmutz from our glasses and can see clearly what the problem is.

The problem has never been your body. The problem is our culture and that is what we need to work to change.

You are enough.

Can you see it now?