How much good can you accept?

How much good can you accept?

Most of us think that we can accept unlimited good.  That we would enjoy every ounce of happiness or joy or pleasure there is if it came to us.  Often though, this isn’t actually true. We brush away the compliments given to us, we deny ourselves pleasure and fight our bodies with another diet or a fresh round of botox, we shame human bodies for enjoying sex in a particular way or with a particular person or of a particular frequency, we say “with my luck” meaning things won’t work out, or “it’s too good to be true” or “I’m not good enough” or “that’ll never happen”, or “you’re dreaming”.  We take the world in through filters, many of which deny our experience of good.

Why does this matter in transformative change?

Many of our filters came about not because of something wrong with us, or because this is natural for humans, but because of systems of capitalism and privilege.  It’s easy to remain compliant to the oppression of others when we think that good is a limited or finite resource.  It’s also easy to keep us in the endless loop of buying shit we don’t need, the foundation of capitalism, when we’re consistently told to be unsatisfied with where we are.  Many industries (including wellness), consciously and unconsciously market to our insecurities, fears, and doubts, profiting from the idea of a limited amount of good.

However, if we are serious about building a more beautiful world, we need to be able to accept the beautiful as it arrives, and as it is born.  Change does not just happen to us, but through us, so there is always the simultaneous work of transforming our communal systems while birthing a new way of being within.

You cannot feel bad enough to feel good.  We cannot suffer enough to free others.  And no structure, system, politician, or person can take your pain away from you until you are ready to heal (pain arising from toxic systems is a little different – more on this in a coming post).

While our rage, pain, and grief need space to be honoured, felt, and experienced, as organising principles they frequently end up recreating themselves as opposed to the desired outcome of transformation.

Experiencing our desired outcome – wholeness, liberation, safety – and being open to infinite possibilities of good, while we are working to shift the outer structures has a power that pain-based organising does not possess.

I want to be extra clear on this though, accepting and deliberately cultivating feelings of good in our lives does not mean closing our eyes to injustice, pain, or oppression (to deny that oppression or injustice exists and the forms it takes is not only morally wrong, but the easiest way to perpetuate it).  Ignorance is not the path I’m talking about.

However, if we are not open to the possibility of truly experiencing what it is we seek as we seek it, if we have shut ourselves off from it, how are we expecting to receive it when it arrives? How do we generate and cultivate the experience for others?

Are we allowing the beautiful to be born or are we shunning it away?  What does the good look like in your world?


  • What does the good look like in your world? Good shows up in countless ways, including love, joy, pleasure, freedom, compassion, wholeness, healing, fun, laughter, beauty, awe and just feeling damn good. What does it look like in your day-to-day experience? Can you immediately identify areas of your life where good isn’t present?
  • Watch your words. Words have power, or at least the energy we attach to them does.  Spend three days this week watching the way you speak, and write down any possible limiting beliefs that come up (common ones include, ‘it’ll never happen’, ‘with my luck’, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘I’ve got to be realistic, ‘no-one cares’)
  • Watch your thoughts. Mindfulness and meditation as regular practices help us learn to do this.  In much the same way we watch our words, we begin to watch our thoughts.  Set a timer for once an hour during a different 3 days to the above (or else you can get overwhelmed with watching and tune out), and as it goes off just notice what you’ve been thinking about, and write it down.  Notice any judgments that come up, or feelings of envy, jealousy, lack, being unsupported etc.
  • Watch your actions.  Same principle.  Except we’re also looking at the underlying reason we perform our actions.  Actions can mean anything from the decisions we make, the purchases we buy, the gifts we give.  Ask ourselves was this decision or this action coming from a place of knowing there is enough good for me to experience? Or did it come from a place of lack, or not-having?  Was there any pain or strong emotions influencing this?
  • Dream Bigger. When we don’t think there is enough good in the world, it becomes hard to imagine a life and world in which there is enough.  Scarcity and lack are built into our current systems, yet nature (naturally, without our help) operates in abundance.  We are products of the natural world, abundance is our birthright.  What would infinite good look like for you? Not blind utopian thinking, but a belief that you are enough and can have enough.  Would your work and activism supporting people look different from this lens? Would you approach it in the same way, and do the same work?

Let me know your thoughts on this – I’d love to hear from you.

Interested in changemaker coaching? Work with me. 

NB: For more brilliant work on pleasure activism which runs along a similar line, see adrienne maree brown.

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