Get Off the Hamster Wheel of Not-Enoughness

When you’re part of a culture that is always sending you messages that you aren’t good enough, and teaches you to base your feelings of self-worth on how you measure up compared to other people, it’s really easy to feel like you suck. The truth is, there are about 7.5 billion people on the planet, but there’s only one of you. There never has been and there never will be another you, isn’t that incredible? Your worth has nothing to do with how you’re stacking up compared to the person ahead of you or behind you, whether you’re in a socially-distanced line or you’re looking at your social media feed. Your worth is not the number in your bank account or the number on your scale or your breast-size or waist-size or bicep-size. It isn’t in an arm balance or inversion, it isn’t in how many “followers” you have, it isn’t in your hair or the beer you drink or don’t drink, it isn’t in your car or your job or your partner. Your worth is intrinsic to you. You are here and you are unique and you have something to offer this world only you can. That’s amazing to me. You might need to get out of your own way, or heal on a deep level, you might need to stop believing old stories that keep you stuck, but your worth is never at issue.

One of the best ways to start coming from a place of abundance instead of lack and the fear that there isn’t enough for you, or that someone else has or could steal your place in the sun, is to focus on what you DO have, what is flowing, the gifts that might be easy to take for granted but are actually huge. I opened my eyes this morning and I get to be here another day with the people I love. That’s huge, that’s everything. I HAVE people I love deeply, who amaze me with their kindness, intelligence, insight, humor, enthusiasm, passion, steadfastness and resilience and I am loved in a deep way by a few people who really know me, see me and understand me, and that’s the luckiest thing I know. These are three gigantic things I could easily overlook if I allowed myself to get caught up in the hamster wheel of not-enoughness, but the antidote for that is a gratitude practice, a daily effort to remember. And this has helped me through some very dark days and tough times, and it doesn’t mean we don’t feel despair, fear, frustration, rage and every other feeling under the sun, it just means we take some time each day to appreciate the things we do have. It makes the painful days a bit less so and the beautiful days that much more piercing.

Sending you lots of love,

Ally Hamilton

What’s one thing that’s lighting you up right now? I’d love to know!

Ways That Life Will Feel Good

innerguidanceWhen you start to live in alignment with what’s true for you, life becomes so much simpler. It’s easier to say no when you mean no. It takes away the murkiness between people and around situations that might have left you scratching your head in the past, because now, you can just open your mouth and say, “I feel really weird. What’s going on?” It gives you the power to direct your energy, because you know what you want, and so do the people in your life. You don’t have to waste time or energy making excuses for yourself, or anyone else.

It’s not always easy to get there, and you can multiply that by nine million if you have certain tendencies, like people-pleasing, or feeling you aren’t supposed to be taking up any space. There are genuine problems in life; all we have to do is read the paper for three minutes to verify that, but a lot of the problems people grapple with are self-created. Not all of them, so let’s be clear. There are heartbreaking, piercingly painful losses we endure sometimes, and some people more than others, but I’m not talking about that right now. I’m talking about a loud inner critic you may have been living with your entire life. A relentless voice inside your head that is unforgiving and full of should. I’m talking about ideas you may have about yourself that are blocking your ability to be happy, to be at peace.

What stops us from listening to our hearts, and calmly but confidently moving in the direction we know we must if we want to rock it out in this life? Fear. Fear that we aren’t enough. Fear that our deepest desires may not be in line with what others had hoped we would want. Fear of hurting the people we love. Fear of trying, and failing. Fear of change and of loss. Fear of proving to ourselves that we aren’t able to do it, after all.

Here’s the thing. You’re alive. You’re living this life, and it’s going to feel good, or it isn’t. Ways it will definitely not feel good: If you let your shoulds rule your life. If you don’t try because you might not pull it off. If you allow yourself or other people to talk you out of your dreams. If you never act on your own behalf because you don’t feel good about yourself. If you believe everything you think, especially the nasty, mean-spirited stuff. If you marinate yourself in envy or bitterness or rage. If you keep a mental list of every way you’ve ever been wronged, betrayed, abandoned, and disappointed. If you never let anyone know you, really know you because you’re so caught up in worrying about what people would think if you dropped the mask. These are all ways life will feel very long and painful.

Ways that life will feel good: If you take ownership of the one thing you can, namely, how you face what you’ve been given. If you look your pain, losses, heartbreaks and betrayals in the face and say, okay. That happened. That hurt. Here’s what I’ve learned from these experiences, here’s how I’ve grown, here’s how I’ve become more empathetic and compassionate as a result. If you remind yourself every single day of all the things you do have, right now. If you remember to let the people in your life know how you feel about them. If you feel the fear of not being enough, but go for it, anyway. Because you’re going to be here, right? You’re going to be living these days, and living truthfully feels a lot better than living in fear or blame or powerlessness. Maybe all your dreams will come true, and maybe they won’t, but you’ll feel a lot better about yourself if you’re following your heart. It’s not like tomorrow is promised, or that life is going to start somewhere out ahead of us after we get everything figured out. Life is happening right now, this minute.

If you’re stopping yourself from following your intuition, it’s time to get some support. We all need that sometimes. It might be a teacher who inspires you, or reading something that raises your consciousness, or it might be a good time to try therapy, but I wouldn’t just wait for things to get better magically. You know the saying right? If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working out so well, it’s time to try something else.

There’s only one of you. I really do not believe you’re here by accident. You have something to offer only you can, but you won’t be able to do that if fear is blocking you at every turn, or if that voice inside your head tells you you can’t. I can share with you that for me, personally, yoga was the way I eroded that inner voice that was so harsh and critical and relentless. I got on my mat, and I just didn’t feed that. I didn’t heed it, either. I kept feeding a loving, patient kind voice. For me, I needed an experience that was happening in my body. I needed the visceral feeling of hitting a challenge and seeing what came up for me. It wasn’t pretty or easy. It took a number of years, but knowing yourself and accepting yourself is certainly worth the investment of a few years, right? Developing a healthy, happy relationship with yourself is the thing, wouldn’t you say? I can tell you it feels a helluva lot better having a voice in my head that roots for me, than one that tears me down and says I’m unlovable at my core. Life does not have to feel that way, but you have to meet yourself where you are. It won’t get better unless you get off your a$$ and make it better. That’s the truth. You have to work, but what better use of your time is there than to make the world within you a more peaceful, loving, kind, compassionate place to be? So you can make the world around you, and between you and those you love, a more peaceful place to be; what’s more pressing than that? If you need help along these lines, try this series, or if you’re looking for community, interaction and support, you still have 48 hours to sign up for my next online course! See if that sparks something within you, but don’t let life go by for too long feeling stuck. We don’t have forever.

Sending you so much love,

Ally Hamilton

Live Under the Roof of Your Hope

I think most people simply want to be happy, to live a life that feels good to them, to love and be loved, to find a purpose, to feel passionate about what they’re contributing, to feel that life has meaning. It took me a long time to understand that seeking happiness for myself was bound to make me miserable. Thinking of the world and of your life in particular with the mindset of, “How can I be happy? Why aren’t I happy? What do I need to do to get happy?” is like having blinders on. Seeking happiness for other people is a shortcut to all kinds of amazing stuff, like the feeling of being fulfilled, fired up, and full of gratitude. I think we all experience this to some degree. I’ve always been more excited to give someone a gift than I am to receive one. There’s something so awesome about creating or finding the perfect something to give someone and it’s even better if you get to be there when they open it. It’s a way of saying, “I see you. Your particular spark has not gone unnoticed. I know you. I know what will make you laugh or feel understood.” It’s beautiful to give that to someone. You could give a version of that to any stranger you encounter today just by being present. You could say hello, and how are you, and you could care, and you might just turn someone’s day around. Maybe more than that.

What I didn’t realize until I started teaching yoga, was that there’s no end to that. The more you focus your energy on uplifting other people with anything you’ve got, the better you feel, but that’s the reverse of what we’re taught and lots of people end up in despair, feeling hopeless because the “me formula” doesn’t work. Of course you have to take care of yourself, practice compassion for yourself, and learn to love yourself if you aren’t already, but it is absolutely the case that the more time and attention you place on how and what you might contribute, and the more you act on those feelings, the happier you’ll be. If you doubt that, make today about eliciting as many smiles as you can from other people. Extra points for strangers. I guarantee if you do that, by the end of the day you’re going to feel at least a glimmer of hope, if not an avalanche because people are good, they really are. And yes, this world can break your heart, and there are things we need to fix for the sake of our kids and their kids, the planet, and all the creatures who live on it, but directing your attention to how you might contribute to the well-being of others is definitely a huge step in that direction. Good for others, good for the planet, good for you — there’s no downside. Also, you’re wired for that. We have something called mirror neurons; compassion and empathy are natural to us. If you’ve hardened yourself against that, it’s time to allow your heart to break open to the world again. It won’t kill you, it will free you.

Today I don’t hope to be happy, because I am happy. Not everything in my life is perfect, but I have two beautiful, healthy children and tons of love in my life, and I get to spend time doing what I love. What I hope for is the strength to face reality as it is. To accept the truth. To see clearly, and by that I mean, to see myself clearly, to see others clearly, to see the world clearly. I’m hungry for the truth, not happiness. It’s not all going to be happy. Some of it is going to break your heart right down the middle. If you’re attached to being happy all the time, you’re going to suffer even more when those storms come because you’ll have the pain of the circumstances, but also the pain of your resistance to them. If you hope to open to things as they unfold, and if you hope for the grace to accept both the beautiful and the heart-wrenching, you’re probably going to do quite well.

Sending you love, and the hope that you recognize your potential to give and receive love. Pretty sure that’s why we’re here!

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.

Swing That Bat

Youve-got-to-get-to-theI think the main thing at the end of the day (and the beginning and middle…and during the night, too), is to feel good about yourself, to feel comfortable in your own skin, to know and accept yourself, to recognize what’s true for you and what you need to be at peace. To discover what lights you up, to uncover your gifts so you can share them, and to feel like you aren’t leaving anything in the tank.

So many times people get caught up in what is or isn’t happening. The result, the goal, the objective, the deadline, the five-year plan. But I think the truth is, sometimes you’ll go for it and land smack on your face, and sometimes you’ll hit it out of the park. Landing on your face doesn’t feel good, but you know what feels worse? Letting the idea of “can’t” or “shouldn’t” stop you from trying. Telling yourself you probably won’t score, so why swing the bat? I’d rather fall on my face a million times than sit on the bench with fear.

Not everything will work out. You may strike out nine hundred times. But at least you can look at yourself at the end of the day and say, “I gave it everything I had today. I’ll try again tomorrow.” I really believe if you have that attitude and you also remember to focus on what you do have, if you don’t give up on yourself or on life, you’re going to win something no one can take from you. Your fire. In life, it’s the Sportsmanship Award that counts the most. Go get it.

Ally Hamilton