“I was never good enough for my mum and she never let me forget it” I whisper out just as we make it to the entrance of their building “Ryan doesn’t speak the words, but sometimes he makes me feel that way”.
Sarah Clay, Never Enough
How often have you said to yourself – or heard others say – that you “can’t do anything good” or you’re “not good enough,” “You are not gifted” “You are good for nothing”. Do you ever feel you give life your best, work hard, try hard, but still can’t give yourself credit? Are you constantly beating yourself up and thinking that somehow you should be more, do more, be better, and you don’t measure up in your own mind? If that’s you, you are not alone. I spent most of my early adult years feeling “not good enough.” Most of the people I know feel this way too.
“I’m not good enough” and all the other labels we feel, or we hear others say too us can become a problem to, we can end up unconsciously operating from this place, internalizing and accepting it as how we are. We can easily find ourselves creating our identities around it and owning as the truth about ourselves. These belief that we aren’t “good enough” can end up driving our life choices, especially our careers, our relationships, approach to work and other areas of our lives. And if not checked, we can find ourselves in marathons of trying to prove to others and ourselves our worth.
Feeling inadequate is one thing to understand mentally. But to actually change it and stop beating yourself up requires some serious inner work. Why?
According to Dr. Neff, the author of the book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, (affiliate link) we should have compassion towards our [harsh] self-critical voice. This is because our inner critic believes that it is doing what is necessary in order to ensure our success and safety!
But if we look closely — our inner critic cares. There is some safety need it is trying to meet. Our inner critic wants us to be happy, but doesn’t know a better way to go about it. Let’s say you criticize yourself for not going to the gym, calling yourself a “lazy slob.” At some level, your inner critic is reacting out of concern that if you don’t go to the gym you won’t be healthy, or that you’ll be rejected by others. We can be kind and compassionate to this part of ourselves, because at some level it has our best interests at heart. And believe it or not, by giving compassion to our inner critic, we are moving out of the threat defense system and into our other safety system.
What do you do when have lived with “not good enough “ mindset? Here are five ways to hit your reset button and see yourself anew.
1. Remember, you are not the only dealing with “not good enough “. While we can’t know if other people in our lives are searching for affirmation, trying to build themselves up by comparing down to others, or simply habitual show-offs, we can know that their lives aren’t perfect too, they are like us, struggling with flaws and imperfections. How do I know that? Because they’re human, just like me. Insecurity is part of the human condition. In fact, it’s necessary: a healthy dose of self-doubt helps us monitor ourselves and our behavior, sparks introspection, and motivates us to grow and change. We doubt ourselves so we can check ourselves, which allows us to get along better with our fellow humans and ultimately keeps the species going. Not only is insecurity part of the human condition, but a total lack of insecurity is actually a sign of things gone wrong.
2. Remind yourself you are enough. Remind yourself daily that you have value and that you are enough. There is no one like you, and there never will be. And if you honestly think that you’re not good enough for someone, honestly ask yourself why. Do you have underlying insecurity issues that you should talk to someone about? Does this “someone” tear you down rather than build you up as a person? If this “someone” doesn’t remind you continuously that you have value, and that they care about you, maybe it’s time to walk away from said friendship and/or relationship. And maybe it’s time to work on yourself, and help you realize your intrinsic value.
3. Add to your daily language of yourself the word “yet” Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University is known the world over for her research on mindset. She delivered a TEDx talk in which she describes a high school in Chicago that gives students who don’t manage to pass a class the grade “Not Yet.” What does this do for you ? Most importantly, it shifts the focus from a fixed mindset—it shifts your mindset from outcome to process implies eventual success, and in the meantime, focuses on effort, strategy, resilience, and perseverance.For your own endeavors, rather than labeling a project or a process a failure—I haven’t been able to run 5 miles, I haven’t found the right romantic partner, I don’t have my dream job—tack on the word “yet.” I don’t have my dream job yet. Believing you can improve, instead of assuming you’re stuck with cards you were dealt, makes all the difference.
4. Choose to be non-judgemental to yourself or others. Choose, today to be a non-judgement day. This means that you and I will decide about not making a judgement about anything that comes our way. For me, I choose daily to stop my mind from labelling others and myself as well. The reason behind this is, if we think negative thoughts then we leave negative energy waves in our body and on others we meet. And sometimes this energy is so strong for that things that we think of. So choose not judge yourself or others, think of all the good and value additions you have made to others lives. This will give you positive thoughts about for the other person and you will not feel “not enough” again. By repeating this self evaluation regularly, your thought of not being “good enough”will also be removed totally as now you will get to know your value form someone else.
5. Speak to someone. Oftentimes, the best way to get your thoughts heard is to speak to someone. Whether you choose to reach out to a psychologist or a life coach, having someone to tell your issues to for feedback is often a great source of help. These professionals are trained to listen to and assess personal issues people have to uncover past trauma and experiences to see what has caused you to feel this way so that they can help you discover a brighter future.
Believe, you are growing into something different. You are getting better. How? By trying to do something better than you actually can. That’s not a lie, that’s valour. As soon as you start nourishing your brain with positive thoughts, you will find that your mind is helping you not tormenting you. And when you are faced with a problematic situation or you are feeling low in yourself, your mind will start to guide you and it will start loving you back.
Even on your lowest days, you must remind yourself you are good enough. Say it to yourself every single day, and before you know it, your mind will be saying it back to you when you need it the most.