I’m putting this post out there at what is probably the busiest, loudest part of the year. When life is loud, stillness becomes even more essential.

A little over a year ago, I published a post about how I discovered that I’m a Type 3 on the Enneagram. In that post I expressed the ideas that came the easiest to me at the time. I was so not ready to unpack the other half of how it felt to discover my actual Enneagram type. The emotional state I found myself in was overwhelming.

But with some time and reflection, I’m now finally ready to share because my experience connects nicely into learning how to appreciate the lost art of contemplation and stillness.

At the time when I was digging into the Enneagram stuff, I was feeling really down about my life. My chronic pain was keeping me in bed a lot, and I felt so useless. My mind was constantly telling me, “You’re lazy. Your life is a mess. You’re worthless because you can no longer do anything. You can’t achieve anything. All you can do is just lay around here.”

It was a lot of ugly and unhelpful stuff. But that negative self-talk made me realize what a central role achievement and recognition has had in my life all along and how I felt like I was nothing without it. My identity depended on me being in constant motion. The idea of falling behind in life because of losing my ability to perform was absolutely scary.

Enneagram 3’s are known as burnout prone go-getters who are always on the move, working hard to improve themselves while getting stuff done. Moving beyond the Enneagram for a moment, I feel like this kind of attitude reflects modern Western culture overall. It’s all about the movement, the hustle, and reaching out for “success” — an external definition of success, not what success actually looks like to you. There is no place for stillness in this culture because if you are still, you don’t have the appearance of doing. If you’re not constantly moving, doing, hustling and showing up—you won’t achieve, you won’t be successful, and you will be worthless and invisible.

Of course, that’s not exactly true, but that’s the narrative, and it’s deep and pervasive. Social media thrives on this belief. I used to be a workaholic and a caffeine addict. Who am I without my addiction to doing?

Who am I in stillness?

So I discovered that I was an Enneagram 3, and as usual, I went in deep, trying to unravel the meaning. Then I came across an online article that reminded Enneagram 3’s that they don’t need to perform to be loved.

I don’t need to perform to receive love. The people who are the best for me are those who still love me when I am doing nothing, because they see me for who I am, not for what I achieve. And thanks to the limits of my chronic pain, I could clearly see the truth of that.

When I reflected on who I actually am behind the mask of my constant doing—seeing me simply as myself in stillness—an image dropped into my mind.

I was gazing into a pool of water. It was still, crystal clear, and infinitely deep. The water was beautiful and its depth appeared limitless, as if I could keep peering down it forever. I might as well have been gazing into space—a universe within myself.

At first I laughed out loud at such a strangely profound mental picture. It was like I was seeing what I had known all along. And then I cried.

And the reason why I cried is this:

When my worth was tied to performance and constantly doing, it was impossible for me to feel like I was enough. Nothing about me was enough. I was always running and playing catch-up and those quote posts on social media that declared “You are Enough” were just flat self-care platitudes that made me roll my eyes.

I was always chasing and comparing.

I was always doing, running, and serving, not from a place of love but in a desperate attempt to earn love and recognition and to feel useful, and yet I persistently felt so less than.

As long as I rejected stillness, I could never be enough. Because the feeling of enough is rooted in stillness. It’s bound to things being worthy due to their existence alone.

That intuitive moment made me see that even when still, I am full of richness and unfathomable depth. For the first time in my life, I truly experienced the feeling of enough in its fullness.

For the next few days I cried every time I thought about it and wandered around with my head in the clouds. I just knew that my life would never quite be the same.

Early in my chronic pain experience when I was still furious with what I couldn’t do and how worthless that made me feel, my husband would tell me that I am like a flower.

Flowers don’t rush around to accomplish things. They simply stand there as they radiate their beauty. We admire them, not because they took hours dressing up for us, but because they stand out boldly in their authentic form—what they were meant to be from seeds. Their existence brings joy. Some flowers produce fruit, but they don’t have to for us to enjoy them. They bring delight as they are in their stillness and in their reactions to the environment around them.

This is why moments of stillness are so important. Not only do they create space to organize ourselves mentally, but they give a moment to pause and connect with our existence. Existing can be hard and extremely painful, but yet in stillness, I can connect with my strength. I’m still here. I am still fighting and breathing. I am absolutely full of potential, radiating my essence. My depth is eternal. I am enough.

At times I feel like my chronic pain and burnout is a straight up rebellion against a world that does not value stillness. Sometimes I struggle with allowing myself to rest, but I’ve become more and more open to honoring the amount of stillness I need to function. And more recently, I’ve been enjoying contemplation and the impact that is having in my life.

Of course, I have my ugly days. Days of wishing that I could do more. But I’ve become way more forgiving. I’m just a tired little human sometimes. And that’s okay. I am still worthy of love, care, rest and stillness.

If you want to get a start on adding more stillness and reflection to your day, you may find some inspiration in my book Thoughtful Planning: How to Use Questions for Self-reflection to Design Your Day