Updated: Oct 30, 2019
By Jasmine Chiam.
Recently, I was attacked by the 'NGE' virus again. It made me panic, nervous, breathless, and had heart palpitation. It damaged my brain and interfered with my ability to focus. The attack wasn't something new to me as I had been attacked by the same virus several times previously. I was stressed out and depressed. 'Why am I so weak?!" I questioned myself. I started to doubt the 'antibiotics' that I used to take as an antidote.
Have you come across the virus? 'NGE' stands for 'Never Good Enough!' I'm sure you're familiar with the NGE syndrome - I'm not alone. The 'antibiotics' here refer to the various mindfulness-based tools that we've learned in the MINDFULGym program. Mindfulness practice is good, right? But how come I'm still struggling with the NGE? Why? What went wrong?
I've already tried to mindfully reduce my expectation to cope with my weakness - perfectionism. I've repeatedly reminded myself, "It's Good Enough (IGE)." I've made an effort to be kind to myself. But why do I still suffer from the NGE feeling? Should I take more 'antibiotics' to fight and kill the NGE virus?
After struggling with the emotional tsunami for a few days, I got some insight into the problem. I discovered that I lack of wisdom (a.k.a. Right Understanding) in applying mindfulness.
"Being mindful means remembering to pay attention to the present moment experience with kindness, a beginner's mind, and wisdom," I recalled the training definition of mindfulness in the MINDFULGym program. Yes, wisdom; that's what I need more in mindfulness practice.
I've realized that when we practice mindfulness without wisdom, its usefulness is limited. The following are some lessons that I've discovered about practicing mindfulness with wisdom power:
1. Being mindful doesn't mean we don't make mistakes. It doesn't say if we're mindful, things will always turn out as we wish to be - more perfect, yeah. Practicing mindfulness for happiness means embracing imperfection. And that means trying to befriend, make peace, and see the beauty of imperfection.
2. Let's learn to see mistakes or imperfection as something natural and beautiful. Have you watched this video entitled "Be Proud of Your Scars" by Sean Buranahiran? I'm sure you'll love it. Watch it now:
3. When we're emotionally stuck, try not to push ourselves too hard to 'AAM' (Accept, Adjust, Move On). Trying too hard to be happy may backfire. Healing requires time. So, I allowed myself to stay with the NGE thoughts, memories, and feelings for a while. Repeatedly taking mindful breaths is useful as an emotional anchor. In the process of 'resting' amidst the NGE attack, we may see things with greater clarity and learn new lessons.
4. Be kind to ourselves is not just treating ourselves with love and compassion. It's also to learn how to forgive ourselves and make peace with our past mistakes. Pick yourself up from where you fell. Learn from the mistakes. Transform them into meaningful lessons that you can share with and benefit others. We're not alone; we take care of one another.
5. It's OK and understandable to blame ourselves being NGE. That's natural given various causes and past conditions. But try not to stay too long with the ruminations. While attempting to gain emotional balance, don't jump to conclusions (e.g., no one likes me, it's my fault, I'm a terrible mother). Avoid making any significant decisions (e.g., quitting studies, changing job, ending a relationship), as our mood storm may propel us to make unwise choices.
6. Remember the lesson of 'mind in a jar.'
It's a simple and skillful way to teach children that they can calm their bodies and minds with slow, deep, and mindful breathings. We can train ourselves in this way too - breathe mindfully to stay calm. When we're calm, we have a better understanding of life; we become wiser and wiser.
7. No one likes unpleasant feelings or experiences that come with challenges. But, they can teach us valuable lessons if we face them with wisdom and kindness. We learn that everything happens with a reason - story. The reasons might not be apparent now. But with time, we'll discover and cherish them.
8. Be mindful of the 'unfair comparison' thinking error as it's not helpful. In my NGE situation, I've not been comparing myself to others for some time. So, what went wrong in my understanding? Ahhhh, I notice that I'm comparing with myself, "Why last time I could be so outstanding in my performance?! Why can't I do it now? "Why?! Why?! Why?!" When I console myself empathetically,
"Jasmine, things may not be the same anymore. But that doesn't mean it's always worse. Changes and challenges often drive us to have new meanings and purpose in life," I often feel better. See if that works for you.
I'm grateful that I'm mindful enough to learn from the NGE virus attack. I've discovered a valuable lesson - the importance of practicing mindfulness with wisdom. "It's Good Enough (IGE)," I remind myself with added wisdom. Yeahoo.
Last but not least, I would like to share a vital kung fu (in the form of a coping statement) that I repeatedly use to prevent NGE attack - It's OK not to be OK!