I read your column regularly and I thought you could help with this problem. For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with not having enough. I grew up in a family where there was never enough - not enough money, not enough attention, not enough love, sometimes not even enough food. I seem to still be carrying these "not enough" feelings - even though I am now in my 50s. I never have enough money for my needs or even sometimes to pay my bills. My house isn't enough. I'm not enough for my kids ... it goes on and on. I'm tired of this struggle. Can you give me any ideas about how to change this? I'm never happy with myself or my life, and life just feels like a drag because I'm always working and still not getting enough
Dr. Norquist responds:
Could you imagine that there could be someone else living with the exact same circumstances that you have now, who has a totally different experience of life? Perhaps she focuses on all the blessings and bounty in her life, and how grateful she is for a home to shelter her family and children to love and tend to, and the opportunity to work and play and enjoy relationships and for the richness and completeness of her life. I say this only to point out that what we perceive and experience to be the reality of our personal lives is dependent upon that which we allow ourselves to be conscious of. You had an early experience of "not having enough" that left a strong emotional impression that colors your experience of life even now. Subconsciously, you have brought this consciousness of poverty into your adult life. Being conscious of your world as one of continuous struggles with not having enough has led to a continuous experience of your life in this way. Another way of seeing it is that our personal world, the current physical reality of our lives is but the outer reflection of what we believe to be true. You believe in and are conscious of the struggle in life of never having enough, and so this is what your outer life circumstances look like and therefore what you continue to experience. It goes round and round until you change your inner experience.
Can you imagine what it would feel like to see your world as bountiful and abundant? Can you imagine feeling totally at ease with this, totally deserving of this abundance? Can you imagine that life can be easier, less burdened, and more flowing? Imagine all this and more, as vividly as possible, and as already real in the present moment. When something becomes such a reality in your own consciousness that you can actually see and feel it, this inner change in your consciousness will be reflected in your outer world. Thanks for writing.
Dear Dr. Norquist:
When my girl friend and I are in public, she constantly points out girls and asks me if I think they are pretty or not. If I say no, she says "come on, don't lie, you know she looks good." If I say yes, she'll say "I can't believe that you like how she looks." It makes me uncomfortable when she asks. I feel that if the person she is asking about is pretty, I would be dishonest if I say no, but I feel I am hurting her feelings when I say yes. Why do girls ask questions like this? And will she be offended if I tell her that I don't want to answer? Is there a way to make both of us happy with this one?
Dr. Norquist responds:
Your girl friend is probably comparing herself to other women and feeling she comes up short. These inner comparisons are not objective. When we engage in this behavior we usually pick something on someone who we feel less than to compare ourselves to. We go about it in such a way that the cards are stacked against us, so to speak. Conversely, in an effort to boost our ego, we can choose someone or something to compare ourselves to who we feel "better then" in the arena in which we are making the comparison. The net result is always a confirmation of our beliefs. There in lies the answer. The problem lies with our beliefs about ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves, we feel no need to compare ourselves with others. When we are able to love and accept ourselves, we feel neither less than nor better than others, because we no longer need exercise the mental habit of comparing ourselves. Freedom from this habit is quite a gift in itself. Perhaps you can share with your girl friend the bind you are in with her questions, and share this information with her about comparisons. If she wants to be free of this, she needs to work on changing her beliefs about herself.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)
Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life's stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding and treating physical symptoms and health-related concerns. Practitioners of the following techniques are available to answer your questions: psychology, acupuncture, therapeutic and neuromuscular massage, yoga, meditation, spiritual & transpersonal psychology, reflexology, Reiki, Cranial Sacral Therapy, and Alexander Technique Ó 2001 Chaitanya Counseling and Stress Management Center