Passionate about voting this year? How many “votes” do you cast each day with your own actions?
A patient told me the other day that his local Board of Elections had destroyed his absentee ballot because it had been returned from a no-longer-current address. That required him to drive four hours to an airport, fly four more hours, cast his vote, and fly/drive back again. I told him it would be easy to conclude that the election won’t be decided by one vote and just forego all the time and expense of casting his ballot in person. “No,” he said, “I feel strongly about this election and I couldn’t live with myself if I pass on my right to vote.”
As our conversation continued, we started exploring how everything we do or don’t do is like voting. When we protect time for our most important relationships, it’s as if we’re checking a box on a ballot:
☒Treat your loved ones as precious
☐Take your loved ones for granted
When a person approaches us struggling with their brokenness, which box do we check?
☒ Be a non-judging, compassionate presence
☐ Offer moral judgment believing it’s just sound judgment
When we purchase products made in factories that do not pay a living wage, we cast a vote for that way of doing business. We even vote every time we buy coffee:
☐Not fair trade
Many people subconsciously keep a running tally of perceived successes or failures in their heads to decide if they will allow themselves to feel like a good enough person. Every time we ruminate on self-critical thoughts or compare our bodies or lives with someone else, we’re voting:
☒ I’m not good enough
☐ I’m good enough
This constant tallying of our strengths and weaknesses is not, however, our best approach to discerning our true worth. Keeping score is a game the small self plays. Here’s a phrase I explore sometimes with patients struggling with the feeling of never being good enough.
We write it down in large letters on a notepad and talk about how hard it is to live with that inadequate sense of oneself. Then I do a bit of editing.
Wow, hiding right there inside a statement of permanent inadequacy is the ultimate statement of our worth.
This sounds like the height of arrogance unless we realize it is true of ourselves and every other human being: I am God in my world and you are too! We are, at our best, filaments for the Highest possible energy. Whatever we mean by “God” is not just out there somewhere; it dwells in each of us. When we start taking this larger version of Self seriously, we’re caught less often in the small self’s scorekeeping.
Coming to know our large Self, the version of us always aligned with the indwelling Divine, is not a bootstrapping operation. Because our sense of being not-good-enough often begins in relationship wounds, we are healed in relationship. One of the most important things we can do on any day is cast a vote of confidence in another person’s full sacredness as a human being, no matter how broken they may feel at the moment. We can tell them we see their large Self even when they can’t. Each day is also another opportunity to cast aside complete identification with our own small self so that we can cast light into a world struggling with darkness.