When was the last time you worried about being enough? It’s a topic that brings up all sorts of feelings of insecurity. It might have been the last time you had a conversation with someone. It might have been the last time you showed up for a work project. It might have been when you were comparing yourself to other people who seem like they are farther along than you. Today we’re going to talk about stuff, the feeling of not enough, and what our pursuit for more stuff is costing us.
Many overachievers have become this way because of two reasons. The first is through a feeling of love and inspiration. They see a vision of something that they love so much and they believe in themselves so much that they go after it and are relentless. The other reason is because they feel that there is something lacking. Maybe they grew up as an immigrant or with scarcity in their lives socioeconomically or emotionally. They have a need to have stability and to have more than enough so that they wouldn’t feel that sense of lack or scarcity in their lives. Either way, the dream of having more, buying more and of “making it” equates to this sense of freedom.
All of this is neither good nor bad until we realize that we’re no longer free. When we buy things we don’t need (sometimes with money we don’t have) to impress people we don’t really care about – this becomes a problem and we have to ask ourselves the question: “Are we going after what we truly want?”
This becomes a spiritual question because all the “stuff” begins to compete with what actually matters. Living paycheck to paycheck so that we can buy more. Getting caught in the golden handcuffs of money. Spending more and more time working with less and less time living, being, and making memories. This is how we’ve lost the freedom that we are truly after. Instead of becoming resourceful, we chase after having more resources.
Do you ever feel that as the years go by, you end up working more or accumulating more? You feel forced to keep up with the bills, keep up with all the stuff, keep up with what people are doing around you, and we hustle and grind to keep making the money to keep up with all of this. We start to measure ourselves by what we have, not by who we are.
Who you are is unique to each of us. When you begin to ask the question about who you are and what you truly want in life, we’re going to all get different answers. Buying things and having things is not evil. Neither is money. What we have to watch out for is when we buy things or make money from a place of not-enoughness that’s not grounded in you or me. It’s grounded in what society, companies or others are telling you is missing in your life. It’s grounded in fear. It’s when we become cookie-cutter versions of ourselves instead of these unique, creative expressions of ourselves. Let’s think of it this way. When you give someone a picture of success, what do you think would be on that page? Often, we think about really expensive things. Big homes. Lots of money.
You might be thinking that it’s not your definition of success, and if that’s the case, wonderful! What would you define as success? If you were to draw a picture or create an image of yourself as successful, what would that look like? Ask yourself, “how much of this is what I truly want versus what I think I need to have to be enough?” Ask yourself, “do the people who really know and care about me think this is my highest expression of myself?” When I do this exercise, it stops my brain from going into the automatic copycat version of success. The people whose opinion I care about and who really know me don’t care about what car I drive. They care about me being fulfilled, happy, laughing, curious and loving. They think I’m pretty great and know that if I wanted to make money and be well compensated, I would. But my stuff is not what makes me, me.
This exercise forced me to think about where I want to live, what kind of relationships I want to have, what I want to experience and how I want to feel. What it feels like to wake up in the morning, step outside and breathe. It doesn’t mean that I can’t have things, buy things or accumulate. What it does mean is to ask myself, “am I going after what truly matters?”
True financial freedom is different than having lots of things. True financial freedom is when we can overcome the short-term gains of armoring our lives up with money and stuff so that we can fit in and be worthy, and instead we have access to money and stuff without the need for it to consume and drive our lives. The spirituality of stuff is understanding at what point is your purchase driving you, instead of you driving it. If you’re seeing that your habits for purchasing look erratic, it might be because you are being influenced by others. If you’re noticing that you wish you spent less money on things that give you short term pleasure, ask yourself if you feel like you’re enough without it. Instead of finding freedom in having stuff, can we find freedom from not having it in the first place? Can we show up as we are with an inner strength and worthiness that is bigger than the material things in life, and play the game knowing that we’re choosing it and it’s not choosing us? I say a deep yes to this because that level of inner strength, to me, is true freedom.