So, you didn’t get the job. They left you for someone else. You got negative feedback on the presentation you worked so hard on. These are just some of the things that happen in life that can cause us to feel like we’re not enough. And if we let these thoughts permeate through our brain cells, we might just start believing it. The truth is, though, that we ARE enough. Plain and simple. We’re enough just the way we are. Today, we will discuss why we sometimes feel like we’re not enough and some ways to remind ourselves that we really are.
Why do we feel like we’re not enough?
The number of reasons why we feel like we’re not enough are probably equal to the number of situations that results in us feeling like we’re not enough (infinite!). One reason is because – we hear it! From other people as well as ourselves. Another reason is because we let other people make us feel insecure. The third reason we will discuss today is expectations.
People tell us we’re not enough
Not everyone grew up in a loving and nurturing household. Some people had parents who constantly put them down and told them that they’re not enough. Or maybe they grew up feeling loved and nurtured but heard from a teacher or a coach that they weren’t enough. Weren’t smart enough to get into college, talented enough to make the team, attractive enough to go on a date or just plain good enough to become somebody. And if we hear this enough, it can really take a toll on the way we feel about ourselves. Our outlook on life changes and we no longer believe we can do all the things we once thought we could do.
And it’s not always other people telling us these things. Sometimes, we’re hearing it from… ourselves. We tell ourselves these awful things maybe as a defense mechanism so we’re not as disappointed if we don’t succeed and possibly to beat others to the punch because we think they’re going to say it. We may not even believe the things we say about ourselves but we have to be careful because self-deprecation can start as an innocent thought and then snowball into a full-blown attitude you have about yourself.
We let others make us feel insecure
When a coworker gets the promotion or when your partner leaves you for someone else, we have the tendency to compare ourselves to the person that gained what we lost. We compare ourselves in every way possible. Everything from looks to education, the kind of car they drive, their background and upbringing. And after we size them up, if we feel that person is superior in any way, we immediately start to feel insecure. Inadequate. Less than. Most times, we amplify what we perceive that they have over us and diminish what we have in return. We view the other woman as being so beautiful and now all of a sudden we’re ugly. Our nose is too big for our face. Our eyes are two different sizes. OR… The person chosen over you for the promotion used to work at a Fortune 500 company and suddenly your years of experience at your local non-profit that you’ve been proud of aren’t as important.
When expectations are set, whether by ourselves or by others, there is always an opportunity that they won’t be met. We have to consider the fact that we may fall short, and then what? Does this mean we’re failures? Some of us know about this all too well. We fail to meet our parents’ expectations and they ask us why we can’t be more like our sibling. We set ambitious goals for ourselves and wonder why our career hasn’t taken off like that of our classmate from college. All this makes us start to think that maybe we’re missing something. That magic characteristic that, if we had it, would be the key to unlocking everything we ever wanted. Maybe we’re missing charisma, drive, passion, the ability to think critically and strategically. We rack our minds trying to figure out just what that “thing” is. Whatever it is, we don’t have it. But could it be that we don’t really need it?
How we convince ourselves that we are good enough
We have gone and convinced ourselves that we’re not enough but how do we reverse this mindset? Let’s focus on five ways.
Stop comparing yourself to others
The first thing we need to do is to stop comparing ourselves to others. We need to realize that there will always be someone smarter, prettier, more talented, more successful. That is just a fact of life. And the sooner we come to grips with that, the happier we will all be. Instead, we think that someone else’s success has a negative impact on us. For instance, a coworker or friend getting a promotion makes us feel like a failure; like we’re falling behind. But in reality, it was just their turn for their hard work to pay off. Each of us is running our own race and each race is headed for a different destination and will take a different route to get there. When we try to get their same results but on our own racetrack, we are surely headed for frustration and disappointment. We have to decide that we won’t be intimidated by the success of others. That we won’t let their good news make us feel like we don’t measure up or that we’re not far enough along. Especially in the days of social media, there is so much pressure for us to be the best. We have to accept that we each have our own assignment and that we already have everything we need in order to fulfill that assignment. Joel Osteen once said, “Don’t compare yourself, celebrate yourself.” If we will remember that the only person we are competing with is ourselves, our feelings of inferiority will disappear.
Face yourself head-on
Although we are each running our own race, we need to also consider that a key part of feeling like we’re enough is self-reflection. Instead of trying to be like someone else, are we already the best version of ourselves? Being the best version of ourselves is a success in its own right and will trickle down to other areas in our lives. Do you have an anger problem? Do you fly off the handle easily? Are you impatient? Do you want everything to happen your way and on your timeline? Do you have a mean streak? Where you treat people badly? Sometimes, we need to take a hard look at ourselves, be humble, let go of our egos and talk to ourselves about these hard truths. Is there something about myself that is keeping me from getting the results I want? Is there anything I can do about it? And then we must do the work! When we we’re being the best version of ourselves, we can live life knowing that we’re giving our all – that we’re bringing everything to the table. And then we can feel confident that if something doesn’t happen for us, then it probably wasn’t meant to be.
Remember what you’ve achieved in the past
Have you ever heard of the phrase, “What have you done for me lately”? It usually refers to a situation where you may have done a lot for someone in the past but not as much in the present. That person may have diminished your past contributions or forgotten them altogether. But don’t do that to yourself. Sometimes, when we’re feeling inferior, we need to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come, of all the things that we’ve done right, of all the goals we’ve achieved. We should then get the sense that – we’re not done yet. We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. You were enough before, you’re enough now, and you’ll be enough in the future.
Focus on the process instead of the results
One of my favorite fitness trainers always says, “Progress is a process.” He was telling me that I can’t show up at the gym once and expect to have the body I want the next day. It takes commitment – me showing up each and every day and doing the work for me to see the results I am looking for. It means for each exercise, I am thinking about the individual muscles I am working and each movement that I need to make to engage them. It means that in each moment, I am having the endurance and stamina to keep going even when I want to stop. By going into each workout with that mindset, before you know it, I will look in the mirror and see the results I expect. This can be applied to most other things – a major project you’re working on that could get you the promotion you desire, parenting and raising our children – helping them be successful, a relationship with your boyfriend/girlfriend husband/wife. Focus on the process. Don’t be so quick to skip ahead to the results and then get discouraged when you don’t see them. Stay focused.
Don’t believe everything you think
I learned from author Eckhart Tolle that our thoughts are not our own. Most times, it is our ego speaking on our behalf, but that doesn’t mean that what the ego is saying about us is true. People think that ego causes us to think overly positive thoughts about ourselves. Well, it can work in the opposite direction, too, and cause us to think overly negative thoughts about ourselves. Sometimes, we think things like, we’re stupid, ugly, or not enough. And if we don’t recognize this as our ego talking, then we might actually believe that we’re stupid, ugly and not enough. We have to recognize that when these thoughts come, that they’re not speaking from a place of truth and ignore them. That’s why I tell you not to believe everything you think. Separate yourself from your ego and refuse to accept detrimental thoughts.
I think most of us have felt like we’re not enough at one point in time or another. It’s probably natural to feel that way, especially if we constantly hear it from other people, we let others make us feel insecure about ourselves and have expectations lingering over our heads. But if we would first stop comparing ourselves to others, do some self-reflection, remember what we have achieved in the past, focus on the process instead of the results and not believe every thought that comes to mind, we’ll be on our way to reversing thoughts of inferiority and being confident enough to run our own race.
Here are your positive affirmations to ponder on this week:
- I am enough.
- I am loved just the way I am.
- I am a good person.
- I am doing my best and that is enough.
- I am worthy of receiving positivity in my life.
- I am proud of all of the progress I’ve made.