If you think you’re not enough, it may surprise you that you’re not alone.
This is one of the most common thoughts that people have. It holds you back from truly experiencing life and from the things you most want. It erodes relationships, careers and abundance.
It starts in childhood as a negative experience.
As children, we’re very literal and very absorbent. A tired parent or frustrated teacher may have said something that made you feel unworthy, unlovable or stupid. A friend may have teased you about something that was important to you. Your mind then made a conclusion about you and stored that thought in your subconscious. That thought became a belief about who you are.
So, how do you change these beliefs that aren’t true and are unsupportive to beliefs that do support who you really are?
Don’t believe everything you think!
Just because you have a thought, it doesn’t make it true. Begin to challenge those self-sabotaging thoughts. Here’s a process I use with my clients that mainly comes from “The Work” of Byron Katie:
Write down the belief you hold: “I’m not _______ enough.”
(Fill in the blank with what you think you’re not enough of: pretty, smart, courageous, etc.
- Ask yourself, “Is this thought true?” (You may feel that it is true, and that’s okay.)
- Then ask yourself, “Can I absolutely know, without a doubt that this thought is true?” (Now, when you think deeper, can you really, 100% know this thought is true?)
- Then ask, “How do I react when I have this thought?” (In other words, How do you feel when you have this thought? And how do you treat yourself and others when you believe this thought?)
- How would I feel without this thought?
- Who would I be without this thought? (How would you live your life differently? Really use your imagination here to picture this.)
Now, turn the thought around to come up with a new thought that is as true or truer than the one you started with.
This isn’t about fighting with the original “I’m not enough” belief. It’s about finding something genuine that feels better and giving your attention to that.
For example, take the thought, “I’m not smart enough to get this promotion.” How could you turn it around? You might start with remembering the times you did something really well, job related or not.
You could focus on the fact that you were smart enough to get the job you have and you’ve now got even more experience.
Notice how you feel as you try out the new thoughts.
When something feels true and better than you were feeling, put your attention there and enjoy it. See if you can gradually add more thoughts that feel better.
You may be wondering how I can be so sure you are, indeed, enough. I know you are because everyone is.
We all deserve love, happiness, and fulfillment. Every person is here with a unique purpose and we are all learning, growing and expanding as we go through the journey of this life.
Estra Roell, Certified LOA and Life Purpose Coach – www.AmericasLifePurposecoach.com
Many of us have experienced this thought about ourselves at one time or another.
Anyone who has ever failed a test, disappointed someone in a relationship, “sinned” according to religious dogma, received a speeding ticket, or made a mistake has likely had this thought cross their mind.
While many people can adaptively process this thought in the brain through a deeper understanding like “I may have made a mistake, but I’m ok.” Or “I can make better choices from this point forward.”
Others find themselves replaying the images, feelings, and thoughts revolving around the “mistake” over and over again, like a broken record on a loop. In psychology, we call this ruminating.
Ruminating, or replaying things over and over again in the mind keeps people stuck in “freeze mode” or paralysis.
When we are stuck in freeze mode, we find ourselves on a slippery slope towards depression. Over time, looping negative thoughts skew our perception of reality and change the way we think and believe about ourselves and others, which has a direct effect on our behavior. These patterns can lead to low self-esteem, self-loathing, and self-destruction.
If we feel unhappy with thoughts or beliefs about ourselves, the wonderful news is- we can change!
Our brains are adaptive by nature and are wired to adapt or heal. Sometimes our brains simply get stuck and need a boost to activate the digestion of information. (The brain digests information like the stomach digests food.
When we are overstressed, overwhelmed, or experience trauma, our brains can get locked up and the information just kind of swirls around without going anywhere. When this happens, we can become overly sensitive and become easily triggered by people, places, and situations).
One way to overcome negative thinking patterns like “I’m not good enough” is to participate in EMDR.
EMDR therapy is a great way to process through unwanted thoughts, feelings/emotions, and body sensations. EMDR activates the brain’s innate ability to digest information.
As it begins to digest difficult information, the brain reorganizes it and stores it adaptively, where it belongs, freeing a person to live and operate in the present moment, instead of based on past hurts and wounds.
EMDR therapy decreases physical sensitivity to triggers (including people, places, sights, smells, and sounds) as well. This allows a person to orient to present moment focus, instead of consistently projecting past wounds into the present and future.
Another way to overcome negative thinking is to realize that at times, a change in perception is required.
Feeling not good enough decreases our self esteem and likely stems from old programming (in other words what we learned from other people in our lives…maybe we were told that repeatedly as a child for example, being called “bad”).
As parents, we must remember that we are nurturing the growth of our children (in mind, body, and spirit). If we believe people are created in the image and likeness of a Source (God, Creator, etc), then no one is innately “bad”. We may exhibit behaviors, those that people judge or qualify as “bad”, however that does not necessarily make anyone actually “bad” as a person.
Oftentimes a change or adjustment to our beliefs helps us to create a more stable and positive mindset. One way to do that is to question our thoughts.
When we experience an unwanted or unhelpful thought, we can journal about or ask ourselves: Is this true? Can I know with 100% certainty that this is true?
Challenge yourself to find the turnaround (or the opposing argument).
For example take the thought: “I am not good enough”. I might write about what good enough means to me. Who gets to determine what “goodness” is? If I can name one good thing I have done, then that negates the thought.
It is my personal belief that we are all good in some way. We can work to develop the understanding that no one outside of ourselves gets to dictate what is right for us. Each person is the director in the play of life. When we direct our attention to what we are doing right instead of what we are doing wrong, we can begin to experience more happiness and freedom.
Lori Russell-Siemer, LCSW – www.lorirussellsiemer.com
I often hear clients talk about not feeling “good enough” or setting bars and standards that are perfect and unattainable. This can come from expectations that others have had for us that turned into our own expectations or even from perfectionism tendencies.
What really is “good enough” and how do we determine that with healthy expectations of ourselves and others?
Life is about finding balance and flexibility with ourselves and with the people around us because perfection is impossible. If we keep reaching for perfection, we will continue to fail and face rejection and disappointment over and over again.
There is always someone “better” than you and you will therefore never be able to meet that level of expectation for yourself.
Perfectionism is usually motivated by a desire to be accepted and loved by others.
We often grow up and are conditioned to think that we can achieve that, sometimes only, by being perfect and making no mistakes.
Perfectionism and having such high expectations can come from being raised by overly critical parents or parents who have not been able to provide enough support for you (emotionally, mentally, or even physically).
Other influences can have an impact as well such as cultural expectations or norms, peer relationships, other familial relationships, or even other authority figures such as teachers.
The problem is that no matter how much we have, we often are left wanting no more.
- No matter how much money we have there is always room to make more.
- No matter how amazing our partner is, there are always flaws and things we wish we had.
- No matter how clean our house is, it can always be cleaner.
- No matter how successful we are within our careers, we can always accomplish more…
These thoughts prevent us from ever feeling satisfied with life and are stuck in always punishing ourselves for past decisions or mistakes and constant planning for the future. We are never truly present and able to engage wholeheartedly with our lives.
Life is not meant to be perfect. If we were perfect, we would have no room for growth and improvement.
Life would be super boring if we didn’t have the opportunity to learn, grow, and challenge ourselves. There are times where we need to slip, we need a cheat day, or we simply just need to reset and it is all a part of the process.
Progress, especially the most lasting progress, comes in the form of one step back and two steps forward.
We have to fall to get back up again even though it is painful to go through that we have to see purpose in it and value in failure.
To try to move forward and find balance in your life, it is not easy. You have to leave room for mistakes, growth, and acceptance all at the same time.
Having self-compassion through the experience is necessary to know that you are good enough even when you aren’t constantly achieving or even when you are making mistakes.
When we are striving for perfection, we become less human and less relatable for others. That can make it hard to really be authentic, genuine, or truly embrace your best self.
Another helpful tip in trying to overcome perfectionism and find your “good enough” is finding a helpful therapist.
Therapy can help to assess and explore some of the causes of where the perfectionism is coming from.
Certain types of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can provide tools and techniques in challenging, reframing, and dismantling the thoughts that are leading to perfectionism.
Emmily Weldon, LPCC, LMHC – www.mindfulsolutionscorp.com