Stop trying to be so good.
The world could give a fuck about your goodness.
Your realness is what's called for.
Your acknowledgment of all the capacity you have: to love, to hurt, to kill, to heal, to create.
Being good is about proving.
Proving that you are worthy to receive the resources you need to exist.
You are trying to be good when you worry about your carbon footprint.
When you recycle. When you send thank you notes, and when you turn off the water to brush your teeth.
You are trying to be good when you listen to someone you are not interested in listening to.
When you say yes because you think you should.
Trying to be good sneaks in all over the place.
Ask, "How do I feel when I am trying to prove myself?"
If you are honest, you will realize that you don't know what it feels like because you are always doing it.
I've been proving myself for as long as I can remember.
Even as I stepped out of mainstream culture, I stepped into proving that I was punk enough. Feminist enough. Earthy enough. Queer enough. Activist enough. Woke enough.
I've been puking my guts out while trying not to make a mess.
Proving runs deep in us, amirite?
Proving is woven with capitalism.
It goes like this: If you are good enough already, with nothing to prove, what will motivate you to work beyond your true capacity?
Capitalism creates internalized slavery.
"Success" is another word for it. Success is you proving your worth to the world.
Let's burn down that word.
I was in a somatic coaching session when I realized how trying and being have gotten enmeshed for me.
My somatic coach suggested that I get to be here, and take up space, simply by merit of being alive.
That I don't have to earn my right to take a breath.
She said, "Stop trying and BE."
This idea, while it made sense on the surface, like DUH, didn't sink in.
I couldn't understand why she was telling me this. I KNEW this already.
But I am good, and a good student too.
Leaving her office that session, I said (with great earnestness), "Okay, so my homework is to Try and Be."
She grabbed my arm fiercely and growled through clenched teeth, "No. Just Be."
Imagine that there is a competition you are trying to win.
Like a science fair. Or a ring-the-bell-at-the-fair strength challenge.
And because you are awesome, the person is coming towards you with your coveted prize.
They want to hand it to you.
They are following you around as you keep working on finishing your project.
You keep trying to ring that bell you've already rung.
They are trying to get you to take your trophy, your gold star.
But you won't even turn towards them. You ignore their existence as you keep trying.
In your head, your mantra rings: "You've got this! Keep going!"
You won't arrive long enough to receive your accolade.
This is what it means to not arrive to receive.
Proving is excellent protection.
If I am always in the proving, I don't have to trust I will be cared for.
I don't have to trust that others can and will meet my needs.
It keeps me occupied, confident I've not yet arrived.
Proving says, "Don't slow; you'll falter, then stop."
And what if that was true? What if you stopped?
What if you rested, even without earning it?
(Because honey, you HAVE earned it with all the striving you've done during your life.)
When I turned 50, my partner secretly invited many of my loved ones to record 1-minute videos.
I watched loved one upon loved one say something along the line of, "Rest, sweetie. Take it easy. Enjoy."
When I watched these sweet tributes, I was confused, then frustrated.
Why were so many people telling me to rest? I had a world to save.
Two months later, I experienced my first clinical depression as my body and brain set a boundary for me.
I couldn't work and had to rest.
I watched my life fall apart in slow motion with an interested disinterest.
What would happen if I let it all go? If I just stopped all the proving and striving?
My practices fell away, one by one. Gym, dance, prayer. On it went.
When I was underwater, moving through molasses, the 'being good' muscle atrophied.
Unable to be polite, I would suddenly leave dinners and hangouts, often only able to eke out the words, "I'm done now," as I plodded off.
That time in the twisted kingdom felt magical in a different way.
The magic of honesty without pretense or striving.
So much success-orientation got stripped away.
So much proving burned off.
When I finally emerged, I was different.
Naked. Softer. More connected with myself.
I was less willing to push through, and unable to work like the devil anymore. Not that I wanted to.
Sustaining recovery from depression has meant learning a new way to exist inside myself.
I have had to learn to honor my capacity, moment to moment.
Not being good is my saving grace.
The word "success" is slowly being replaced with "arrive."
I'm learning, finally, to arrive so that I can receive.
Stop trying to be good.
Start arriving to receive.
I'm not saying try to be bad. That's another kind of striving. (Although it can be more fun.)
Stop doing for a sec and soften into what's available right now.
Love, the world has sweetness for you if you'll allow it.
Your ancestors have blessings for you.
Your friends have more love to give.
Your community wants to celebrate you.
Stop being good. Stop striving. Start arriving.
Yes, dear one, the world really will fall apart if you stop proving and start arriving to receive.
You're not imagining it.
But maybe falling apart because we are all receiving goodness is just what this world needs.
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