What does it mean when we question whether we are enough?
How does it affect our communication and our ability to project confidence and authority when we think this?
The answer: more than you think.
Amy Cuddy has done tremendously important research on how our bodies can impact how people think about us.
And most actors who have even a passing knowledge of “method acting” or Stanislavki’s acting theory know that our inner-thoughts will have a direct effect on how our character is received.
So, what happens when our inner story is a negative one?
John Medina writes in his book Brain Rules about a study done at the UCLA drama department with method actors.
“During the experiment, the actors practiced method acting (which asks you, if the scene calls for you to be scared, to think of something frightening, then recite your lines while plumbing those memories). one group performed using only happy memories, the other only sad. The researchers monitored their blood samples, continually looking for immune “competence.” Those people who had been working with uplifting scripts all day long had healthy immune systems. Their immune cells were plentiful, happy, readily available for work. Those people who had been working with depressing scripts all day long showed something unexpected: a marked decrease in immune responsiveness. Their immune cells were not plentiful, not as robust, not as available for work. These actors were much more vulnerable to infection.” (Brain Rules, pg 177, Medina)
Crazy, right? Negative thinking cripples our immune system.
(artist’s recreation of actual experience)
First let’s admit that there is a huge difference between questioning whether we have done enough and whether we are enough.
One is a practical assessment of preparedness, while the other is a total waste of time and energy.
(Yoda, always with the hard truths.)
When we doubt our self-worth and when we question our right to be here, then we create a negative dialogue with ourselves that can adversely affect how others see and hear us.
It’s also a very silly exercise.
The question of whether we are inherently enough is something that the Dalai Lama might call a “non-question.”
What that basically means is that it is a question that has no actual answer. It is like asking if a glass of water is “water” enough. How can you ever not be you enough?
(Everest is not “Everest” enough either)
Speaking of Everest, I think that this the type of thing that we tend to compare ourselves to when we feel like we aren’t enough. We project an idea that we need to be more in order to belong, which in turn affects our ability to be fully present and trust ourselves.
What was Muhammad Ali’s secret to his greatness?
He had this unbelievable faith that he was worthy. He did not allow the question of whether he was enough get in the way of being enough.
We are no different. Perhaps we don’t have the skill or the desire to be a champion boxer, but we do have the ability to express our true selves and not doubt our right to be here.
Want to be a better communicator? Follow these simple steps:
- Know that you are already enough.
- Disregard messages from people who tell you that you aren’t. They are talking about themselves.
- Know that the person you are speaking with is also enough. Disregard thoughts that they aren’t.
- Repeat steps 1-3.
Don’t confuse what you do with who you are. You may not be prepared enough for a task, but you are enough for that task.