Our show and tell culture worships proof and rewards tangible success and achievement. We celebrate what we can measure. But what are you really trying to prove?
As I walked to trapeze practice last night, I reflected on my wins from this year. I kept quiet about most of my wins this year. I did not share them here or on social media. (I haven’t been on Facebook since July, but that’s another story for another time).
It was hard to share many of my wins, because most were not tangible. I cannot prove them to you.
Our culture rewards tangible success and achievement. We celebrate the things we can see or measure, because they provide visible proof of our success. And we live in a culture that worships proof. Show me the evidence: the bank balance, the followers, the material possessions. Pictures of yourself on a beach or on your private jet, or with celebrities.
This is a culture that conditions us to believe that we must prove our worth. Look at your Instagram and Facebook feeds. Notice how many posts contain some element of trying to prove something to others. Sometimes it’s overt, whether through a photo or a clear message: look at me and what I achieved. Other times, the message is unders the surface.
How often do we do this? Hide within our message some element of proof: how great we are. How much we know. Our skills and talents. Our connections. Our spiritual connectivity. How much you care, or how much we don’t care. Yes, we even set out to prove our apathy.
What are you trying to prove?
Often, we are trying to prove ourselves: to prove we belong. To prove we have what it takes. To prove we are successful.
What would your life be like if you no longer needed to prove yourself to anyone else? What becomes possible for you when you let go of the need to prove yourself?
Later in the evening, as I sat on the subway heading back to Union Square, I reflected on my own needs to prove myself.
Throughout my life, I have found myself in places where I was told I fit in: honors classes, Ivy League universities, masterminds with people I consider to be my mentors. Although I earned my way there each time, even though I knew that I belonged there, I noticed how often I found myself caught up in the need to prove it to others.
To prove I am smart enough. To prove I’m good enough. To prove my expertise. To prove I have the knowledge. The credentials. The ability. Even, within more spiritual groups, within the “supportive” sacred spaces of sisterhood circles, I found myself trying to prove I have the requisite compassion and grace and femininity.
And then I realized:
The one who doesn’t believe I belong in those situations, the one who needs evidence of my worth, is me.
In each situation where I was trying to prove that I belonged, that I had the skills, the talent, the … whatever, I wasn’t trying to prove that to anyone else.
I was trying to prove it to myself.
The realization of this stung me. And it opened a new series of questions:
What if you chose to believe in your own worth?
What if you stopped trying to prove to yourself how brilliant and talented and capable you are and simply rested in the knowledge and belief that you are all that and more?
What becomes possible for you when you believe that you are enough?
What becomes possible for you when the energy and effort you put into trying to prove your worth gets funneled into sharing your brilliance and your gifts?
What becomes possible when you let go of your expectations around how it will look and how it will come together and just ride the wave?
What becomes possible when you stop trying to be who you think you need to be for others, when you stop trying to be or have or do more, and allow yourself to surrender to all that you already are?
I invite you to consider these questions in your year-end reflection process. Before you set your goals, before you run off into next year, ask the powerful questions. And ask them again throughout the year.
What you stand to gain will far surpass the result of any accomplishment or achievement. Perhaps you will learn the truth.
The truth is that you don’t need to prove anything to anyone, because you are all you need to be, and more. All you need to do is believe it.