Oftentimes the hardest part of the journey is simply believing you’re worthy of the trip.
This short article was inspired by an email we received recently from a new course student:
Dear Marc and Angel,
Life hasn’t been the easiest on me over this past decade. I won’t get into all the details now, but these hard times have left me with many cracks. And although I’ve still managed to be a reasonably successful person, I often struggle desperately with my self-confidence. I just don’t feel good enough most of the time. I feel flawed. I feel like my cracks make me undesirable. It’s all in my head — I know it is! But I really need help shifting my mindset. I need a new outlook. Do you have any insight that might assist me?
A Shy Student
Our reply (an open reply to all who don’t feel “good enough” right now):
Dear Shy Student,
It’s time for a quick story about life…
Once upon a time there was an elderly woman who needed to walk down to the river every morning to fetch water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. She carried two buckets with her, filled them up at the riverbank, and walked back with them to her rural cottage home.
One of the buckets was newer, perfectly sealed, and held its water flawlessly. But the second bucket was older and contained a few thin cracks that would leak water onto the ground as the elderly woman walked. By the time she arrived home, typically about one third of the water in the second bucket had leaked through its cracks.
One day, on the walk down to the river, the cracked bucket — who had always felt like it wasn’t as good as the other bucket – said to the elderly woman, “I want you to know that I’ve been leaking water every morning for the past several years. I’m so sorry for being cracked and making your life more difficult. I understand if you need to replace me with a better bucket.”
The elderly woman smiled. “Do you really think I haven’t known about your cracks this whole time?” she asked. “Look at all the beautiful flowers that grow on the path from my cottage to the river. I planted their seeds, but every morning it’s you who does the watering.”
Feeling good enough in life, in work, in business, and in our relationships has everything to do with how we personally judge the cracks in our own bucket. Because we all have a few cracks!
But are they cracks that wreck us, that taint us, and that ruin our experience and desirability?
Or do our cracks water a trail of flowers we haven’t even stopped to appreciate?
Choose to see the flowers through the cracks in your own bucket — choose to see how it’s exactly those cracks that make you good enough — and your whole universe will shift!
Marc and Angel
Now, it’s your turn…
Yes, it’s your turn to take a deep breath when you need one. Sometimes the pressure coming from peers, family, work, and society in general is enough to make us feel less than “good enough.” If we don’t have the “right” job, relationship, house, and so forth by a certain age or time frame, we assume we’re flawed — cracked. Angel and I hear about this kind of self-defeating mindset from our Getting Back to Happy Course students and blog subscribers on a daily basis, and we aren’t immune either. Feeling good enough takes consistent practice.
It’s time to practice!
But before you go, please leave Angel and me a comment below and let us know what you think of this short story/essay. Your feedback is important to us. 🙂
Also, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign-up for our free newsletter to receive new articles like this in your inbox each week.
Photos by: Gabriella Corrado and Richard Walker
Marc and Angel, you two really have a way of getting a point through to me. It’s one of the reasons I find myself reading and re-reading your emails, posts and sections of your book. Truly, your emails and the powerful book that is “1,000 Little Things” has helped improve my self-esteem in countless ways over the past couple years. Other self-improvement books that’s you’ve frequently mentioned, like “The Power of Now” and “The Four Agreements” have been helpful as well.
For me it really hasn’t been much about learning something cutting edge that I didn’t know, but about re-learning to use the inner mindset tools I already have. And the easiest way I’ve found to make this happen is constantly reminding myself that I am capable and in control – which I’ve done by reading a page or two of the aforementioned books and your content.
Anthony H Byrd says
I am right there with her and enjoy following your blog. I don’t feel like I measure up and that I am dsmaged good. All the joy and excitement about life has been completely drained out of me and I dont know how to get it back or where to start. Your blog always gives me hope but I must take the necessary steps to get my life back on track.
John Imbriano says
You are right on how many people do you thinks feel damaged
Excellent parable and principles for finding self-worthiness. After a friend shared one of your older emails with me a couple weeks ago, this topic has been what I’ve been mulling over in my journal lately. In the past I have wrestled with not believing and trusting in myself. The key I’ve found is to embrace the reality that I do not need the approval of others to lead the life I want for myself. My biggest mistake with self-doubt was in believing my life should be run like a democracy-where all the people I know and love have a say and a voice about everything, where I have to campaign hard for what matters for me, where I have been outvoted time and time again. Well… that is a thing of the past. Thank you for helping me make gradual changes these past few weeks.
Diana Everett says
I love your comment, especially as political volunteer always trying to “extend democracy” in the community and in our country but at the same time have given too many people a voice they shouldn’t have in governing MY personal (and flawed) life, which is more like a sole-proprietor business, even an autocracy of sorts (over my own choices and behaviors).
Great comment! Great message, Marc and Angel, you two really crush it with your gentle and truthful weekly reminders.
Carolyn H. says
Hi Marc and Angel. I just wanted to tell you I love reading all your posts. They can have so much insight in to how I am feeling most days. They are powerful yet not confronting. I am so full of self doubt and am definitely that crack in the bucket. I am such an over thinker and have such heightened anxiety about friendships and tend to smother people because I need validation. Is there any tips that you might be able to post to help me with this? I would appreciate any ideas or strategies that could help. Perhaps email with the email address I provided. I’m interested in coaching with you too. Thank you so much for all your inspiring posts and emails xx
Its very easy to get caught up on your flaws because a lot of it is “supported” by the world at large. If your tired, drink or take this. If your anxious or depressed, take that. New make-up changes your world. This dating site is better than another. On and on.
I try to remember that every CEO, the every actor, every rock star, ever, tycoon, and every author has just as many flaws as I do. And really all that they do differently is fully leverage their strengths AND their weaknesses.
I have had 2 amazing opportunities come into my life in the last couple of weeks, and I am going after them. For the first time since 1999, I am getting out of my own way, ignoring the naysayers, and forging ahead. No matter your circumstance, real or imagined, fortune still favors the bold.
I love the story and the lesson! Yes, we all have our cracks…
Insecurity is something I’ve always struggled with, especially as it relates to reaching for my larger goals…
“If you were able to maintain a level of self-confidence that no circumstance could shake, what would you be doing differently right now?”
I took this question from one of Angel’s email newsletters awhile back, and I wrote it down on the white board in my home office. It’s still there, and I reference read it aloud whenever I feel like like I’m not good enough – which is often. Doing so helps me calm my mind, refocus, and take the next tiny step forward.
I loved your story, our cracks are part of us! During my time working for an holistic holiday company, we used to have a meeting each morning called “personals” . It was basically to touch base, say how things were going, talk about any problems we had etc. I used to dread them as I always worried how I was coming over, what I had said, whether I had shown myself up! Never ever really feeling ” good enough ” to be there. To my surprise one morning A girl who I worked with who was a totally amazing teacher and human being suddenly divulged her vulnerability and self doubt.. Some student had knocked her confidence.. Our director gave the response ( he was quite a famous guy) that didn’t we realise that every single one of us including him is waiting for someone to tap us on the shoulder, and notice our cracks! Are any of us a 100% sure we are good enough… no way!. I have a thing about being authentic, that is all I want to be, if it isn’t good enough by whatever standards well at least it is real and me! However I find being authentic difficult. I have been a bit of an all things to all people type of person, even a people pleaser … it is ENOUGH to just be ourselves, cracks and all! This essay was the reminder I needed today. Thank you.
P Marshall says
I love reading your posts because you always hit the nail on the head when it comes to the way I’m feeling. I definitely have flaws and don’t feel like I’m good enough. Reading your posts and you sharing other people’s thoughts really does help. I am going to push through this with God by my side: Thank you, Marc and Angel
Wonderful story! Goes right along with do you see the glass half-full or half-empty? My favorite “getting back on track” thinking is to realize that whatever it is- does NOT have to be perfect. It just has to be satisfactory or satisfying. Otherwise, we are missing out on the enjoyment of the journey…
Thank you for your articles. They help me greatly. I read and re-read them.
This story reminds me of The Velveteen Rabbit story. Until you’re all roughed up and worn a bit you are not real. I’ll be honest, with you. Being real sucks some days. It’s “why cant I be like everyone else?” But then I’ve found I am like everyone else. I’m doing the best I can with the tools I have to work with. My flowers along the path look different than your but we both grow beautiful flowers because we’re both beautiful people.
My bucket has lottsa cracks in it and is even patched in a few spots, but it’s mine! All mine.
Sandra Fleming says
“There’s a crack in everything. It’s how the light gets in.” (Leonard Cohen)
Thank you so much for this story. It has come at a perfect time for me. I never thought of it like this before. Being perfect seemed to be the only possible way that life could be beautiful. But now I see how wrong that way of feeling is. From now on, I will remember what beauty can come from the cracks.
Dr.Dinesh Shah says
Sometimes your stories and examples are so effective that they strike at the centre of mind and make a profound impact. The story of old lady with cracked bucket is one such story and thank you so much. This is the kind of stuff leading me to always look forward to your write-up.
It is uncanny how the email I receive from you on a particular day speaks right to me. These have helped me so much and I appreciate it. I have them all saved in an folder on my computer so I can pull them up when I need reinforcements. Thank you!
True everyone has to live with their cracks, shortfalls and insecurities. Nobody can go out of the way in cementing those cracks. If anybody does it’s absurd and alarming. Accepting things the way they are is the way to peace and happiness. We often crush our children’s flowers while trying to grow our own.