On September 2, 2019, the world lost a young man to suicide. Unfortunately, this is not a unique story, especially to those in the Millennial and Gen Z gap. The message of not enough is an old one, here long before Facebook or any other media, as is bullying and violence and every other hate we witness. But today, we are surrounded by a proliferation of messages telling us we are not enough, bombarding us from all sides. Technology originally created to connect people has created an epidemic of loneliness no one could have foreseen. We are connected more than ever, yet we’ve lost our connection—to ourselves, to others, to humanity.
Technology originally created to connect people has created an epidemic of loneliness no one could have foreseen.
I don’t have the ability to save anyone, but I’m hoping my story will help you save yourself.
Thirty-two years ago, I was in that dark place. Despair so huge, I was breaking beneath it. I can still feel the cold gun barrel in my hand. It was my final attempt to do the “right” thing…to make up for my existence.
I felt so utterly alone. There are still days when I feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I’ve never returned to that place again. I am grateful for that. It took a long time to see any possible reason for my existence. I began to see it in my kids and it extends to the lives I am able to touch now.
Some call suicide a selfish act, but in that moment, that depth of despair, it feels like the most selfless act possible.
The memory of that place stays with me. I know the pain and hopelessness, the belief that everyone would be better off if I left this life. I believed I was doing what was best for everyone. Some call suicide a selfish act, but in that moment, that depth of despair, it feels like the most selfless act possible.
But I was wrong.
I can’t tell you everything got better after I laid the gun down. It didn’t, at least not until later. I am truly grateful for the miracle call that saved my life, but I continued to carry a victim mentality with me. I have been on the receiving end of abuse, hate and sexual violation. It’s not easy to stand through. Hell, sometimes you have to crawl. Other days you want to give up. Sometimes it feels like the only option.
What I didn’t understand is that I was drawing these people into my life because I believed I didn’t deserve better. Starved for love and having zero self-esteem made me an easy target. Wounds have a way of doing that.
Let me be clear, my belief about myself in no way excuses the behavior of those who hurt me. My lack of respect for myself and lack of boundaries kept me stuck. To change my life, I had to change how I saw myself.
For those of you not familiar with my story, I was called an accident from my earliest memory and the brush with suicide is just one way that belief manifested in my life. You see, it became the story I told myself long after I stopped hearing it from others. I bought into the lie.
Growing up is hard, and it’s exponentially harder for young people today. Voices scream from all sides telling you who you should be, what you should do and which path you should follow. Some look at young people and say, “if only they would get off their phones,” yet all the while parents, teachers, coaches and bosses are telling them to pay attention to their phones. It’s no wonder they can’t hear the voice within them, the voice that speaks the truth.
This voice is within each of us, one unlike the others screaming around you. This one is quiet, but persistent. The trick is you must be still to hear it. What you don’t realize is you’ve given away your power. It’s a subtle thing, easy to miss. It gets lost in pieces.
The messages of not enough become stories we tell ourselves because we buy into the hype.
Social media plays a huge part. It’s interesting that many social media platforms use the word story. The messages of not enough become stories we tell ourselves because we buy into the hype. We adopt these messages as truth without question, and they play on repeat inside our heads. But these stories are not truth, and you have the power to choose not to listen.
You have experienced the voice within that speaks truth. When you read a comment or see a post and feel the sinking feeling in your gut as your inner critic whispers a story in your ear… if only you were more like that…if only you were smart/talented/athletic enough…
You feel the nudge in your gut, the feeling that something isn’t quite right. Unsettled. That’s the voice, trying to get your attention. The problem is we often ignore the nudge and continue scrolling, allowing the lies to continue uncensored.
This inner critic was installed in your brain long ago by some past experience, usually by someone close to you. The nudge you feel is truth telling you the critic is a liar and reminding you of your power to say NO.
You need to understand you are perfectly enough, right now, in this moment. Many want to change or improve something about themselves—we all do. Wanting to change or improve is normal, but don’t believe for a minute that something is wrong with you right now. Loving who you are in this moment, all of you, doesn’t mean you choose to remain exactly as you are right now. Rather it is having compassion for yourself as you grow.
You have been conditioned to judge both yourself and others. I would wager that anyone, whether it’s you or someone you know, who constantly judges others—god, what is she wearing? or he is so stupid!—many of these people fear judgment or judge themselves worst of all.
This is why so many people are addicted to their gadgets, not just young people. Scrolling the feed, not stopping on any one post too long, keeps the inner critic occupied. The flip side is it also blocks the messages of your inner voice—the truth. And you can’t keep scrolling forever. In those quiet moments, when darkness threatens to overtake, despair weighs heavy.
One of the best things you can do right now is drop the judgment of yourself and return to a state of curiosity.
What can be done to reverse this? One of the best things you can do right now is drop the judgment of yourself and return to a state of curiosity. From the moment you were conscious, you were curious. Watch any baby…what’s the first thing they do after they grab something? It goes straight in their mouth. Toys, keys, their own feet—it doesn’t matter. Why? They’re exploring because they are naturally curious! Same goes for toddlers—when they see anything interesting on the ground, they squat down to take a closer look. At no time during this do they worry, does this diaper make my butt look fat?
The courage of young people today is a beautiful thing to behold. They will immediately stand up for a cause whether it’s clean drinking water, kids in cages or gender discrimination.
How about you stand up for you?
Go to a mirror, look yourself in the eye, and tell yourself, “You are enough and I love you.”
Not easy, is it?
We easily bludgeon ourselves with hateful words we would never speak to another human being. What you must understand is your life is nothing short of a miracle. The chances of you being born in the moment you were, with your gifts, talents and abilities, cannot be duplicated. Each of you is created for a purpose, and each purpose is different—that’s good news! We’re supposed to be different.
Society struggles with mindfulness and solitude because we’ve become conditioned to being connected 24/7. In the process, we lose the connection to ourselves as well as our capacity for true human, face to face connection. An unfortunate part is many adults are more addicted to their electronic lives than some young people I meet. It all stems from the same issue—connecting with truth, the voice within, can be scary.
To find the peace you seek, you must enter the dark places, your shadow side.
To find the peace you seek, you must enter the dark places, your shadow side. This part has been demonized for so long, but holds the key to wholeness. Much like the principle of yin and yang, both parts are needed for balance, together they create the whole. Temper is one example, often the flip side of passion. One cannot exist without the other. So called “bad” emotions are signals, indicators of our true feelings, and we have to consciously choose how to respond with them. Sometimes they indicate wounds that need healing.
But wounded does not mean broken or disposable.
I looked outside of myself for love because I felt unloveable. I settled because it was better than feeling the void inside, at least for a time. I believed I had to do something to earn love, to give everything of myself.
Again, I was wrong.
I had to learn to learn to love myself, all of me. This has been the hardest lesson of my life, one I’m still learning.
I couldn’t freely receive love from others because I couldn’t give it to myself. In coaching, when the “not enough” message comes up, I ask, “what do you want your (parent, partner, friend, etc.) to say to you?” It is often something like I love you, I’m proud of you, etc. At the core, wounds often hold the same message. I tell my client to go to the mirror and tell themselves what they want to hear from others, to give themselves the gift of love.
You are here for a purpose. You are not “extra,” extraneous fluff at the edge of others’ lives. This is YOUR one life. You are worthy of love, just as you are, right now. You may not be able to see that right now. Maybe all you see in your world is darkness. I know that place. It is only by a miracle of divine timing I am still here.
It doesn’t matter if you were planned by others. You were planned by the Universe. And we need you.
The same goes for you. It doesn’t matter if you were planned by others. You were planned by the Universe. And we need you.
What do you most want to hear? Go to the mirror. Tell yourself what you want to hear. Give yourself the gift of love. Do it every day. Do it as long as it takes for you to believe it.
The critic was programmed in your brain long ago and it’s a liar. You are worthy of love. The good news is the critic messages can be changed, and you have the power to change them.
If you’re struggling right now, I urge you to let go of judgment and be kind to yourself. Find a trusted friend or counselor and open up. Share your pain. Sharing often eases the burden, enabling us to find peace and strength to carry on.
I promise you two things—change will always happen and you will never remain the same…unless you choose to. Your current circumstances do not define your future ability. You are growing and changing every day. If you learn to love yourself, you will find the strength to carry on.
Own your power. Own your worth. Love yourself.
You deserve it.
You can also reach out to your school counselor or these organizations: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255 Crisis Text Line – Text HELLO to 741741 to connect to a real human HopeLine – Call or text 919-231-4525 or 877-235-4525