The Fear of Not Being Enough, For Society
The last part of this series is about being enough for society. This may sound a little dramatic but it’s something that’s been on my mind as we are encouraged to be more thoughtful, empathetic, pro-active AND continuously happy and grateful whilst doing it all. Are we ever doing enough to help the community, the country or the planet?
I am the first to give a big smile and nod for all of the mindfulness and positivity that we are encouraged to practice now. For so many of us, slowing down and witnessing our own thoughts and actions is necessary to counterbalance the hectic and distracted life so many of us live, and through lending someone a hand or spending a moment with the homeless guy on the street, we help ourselves by helping others. This wave of change that has started extends further into things like supporting local businesses, new ways to help the elderly through various apps, and to ditch plastic in favour of reusable and sustainable methods. It’s all pretty positive, until it becomes a deterrent and guilt-inducing.
I read an article the other day with the headline “20 Ways to Stop Using Plastic”, which I clicked on through my own volition because I wanted to know what else was in my everyday control to make more of a positive environmental change. It started with the well-knowns like Keep-me Cups, reusable sanitary products and taking your own steel straw around - all pretty simple so far. By the end though, it discussed ways to take your own tupperware to takeout restaurants (doesn’t this suck some of the joy out of a hassle-free dinner treat?), changing the way you wash your clothes due to micro-plastic in fabric and even moving away from buying jars and tins because they all use plastic too (no, I didn’t know either!).
I honestly liked the article and found it useful to know there are increasingly more plastic-free options, but if I’m honest I finished it feeling overwhelmed, useless and a bit too poor and selfish to try all of it! Indeed, they are just options to pick and choose from but as someone who already uses eco-friendly and natural cleaning and skincare products, I want to be able to do more. These options weren’t, in my opinion, all achievable to the average person on a finance and time budget whilst the cause felt a little insurmountable if even opting for jars are making a negative impact.
Such article guides and “Ways to…” pull-outs certainly provide the information but can quit easily overwhelm and as a result deter readers from making any change at all. For me though, it mostly leads to a great amount of guilt around the little to no action that follows and dismissing the actions that have been achieved already.
Another example is the body confidence campaigns that are all around showing average-sized models and speaking of the ways to embrace your physicality no matter what; plus-size, stretch marks, moobs, body hair, the list goes on. This is absolutely a beneficial movement that has been underground for a little too long, because who wants to see endless screens and pages with a wildly different looking world to the one we actually live in?!
My one issue with the body positivity and confidence movement, is that it can make you feel bad for feeling bad! Because we should be embracing every blemish, new roll of flesh, and unsymmetrical element with open arms, as if we wanted it anyway. Our positivity and happiness with ourselves should exude beyond any negative thoughts, even if it’s truly making us feel worse. To have bad thoughts about myself now goes against the grain which in ways, contradicts the entire mental health campaign it backs, doesn't it?
I think the campaigns of inclusivity, thoughtfulness and happiness are so necessary as global depression levels are rising but without the sort of support or words that say “whatever you do, little or big, is enough”, we are in danger of losing sight of any of the small wins. The passion for the cause, whether environmental, for the mental health of your own or others, is so great that the all or nothing notion quickly comes into play whether intentional or not.
To achieve balance is the ultimate pillar; a fine-tuned, rarely visited place where accepting your best is your best whilst still striving to improve. Our world now feels like a place of such extremes that if you are simply in the middle, doing a bit here and there, you’re not really part of the cause you so apparently care about. Instead, we should pick our passions and forgive ourselves when they slip, if we take on too many, or even if we change our opinions on them.
Yoga teaches evolution and acceptance because every little bit of practice helps towards a greater, wiser world inside and out. Through intention and effort for yourself, for others and for our world, You really are enough.