You can have everything you want, and you will never be enough.

You can have everything you want, and you will never be enough.

I keep running my head in into two cultural mindsets that I think have negative consequences in American culture (this is not necessarily true everywhere. The French, for example, don’t necessarily subscribe to the American parenting ideal of praising a kid for everything they do). But within this culture, there are a couple of paradigms that might not be accurate.

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 You can have anything you want.

First, the idea that you can do, be or have anything you want. Growing up here, we are taught this over and over again. Do you agree? Is this true? Can you really be anything you want? Can you have everything?

Regardless of the outcome of this debate, one consequence of this assumption is that we don’t get taught how to decide. How to say no.

Is the flip side of being taught you can have everything you want failing to teach us how to make decisions? Does this make prioritization and deciding impossible?

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 You will never be enough.

Second, there seems to be a cultural construction or ideal that you will never be enough. This idea pervades–you will never have enough, and you will never be enough. This culture of scarcity–of not having enough–means that we’re always seeking something to fill us up or fill the void. Hence, we shop like crazy.

Brene Brown identifies this culture of scarcity in several common phrases that we say every single day. When you wake up in the morning, the first thought many people have is

“I didn’t get enough sleep.” Not enough. (Why?)

Then, we start the work day:

“I don’t have enough time.” Again, not enough. (Why?)

These two cultural constructions–a culture of scarcity (“you are not enough, you don’t have enough,”) and a culture of achievement (“you can be anything you want, you can have everything you want,”)–are they beneficial? How do they serve us, and how do they deceive us?

And worse, does the combination of these two cultural thoughts make us all slightly neurotic? (I can be anything! But shit! I’ll never be enough! But I can have everything!)

Out of curiosity, what if we had a different mantra? What would the opposite construct look like? Perhaps:

You are enough.
You already have everything you need.
There is nothing in this world that you need to own or acquire to make your life better.

You are enough .

Hmmm…

 
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