“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
― Sharon Salzberg
A sincere thanks to all the awesome experts who shared their best tips, insights and strategies on how to handle the feeling - 'Am I enough?'
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.
1. Ask yourself, “Is this thought true?” (You may feel that it is true, and that’s okay.)
2. 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?)
3. 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?)
4. How would I feel without this thought?
5. 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, Life Purpose Coach– www.americaslifepurposecoach.com
To believe you are good enough means that beyond what you may be feeling on any given day, at your core, you know you are worthy of acceptance, love, and belonging. That your status of being acceptable, wholly loveable, and worthy of connection is not up for debate - regardless of how others perceive you or how you feel about yourself.
How do we move from a deep-seated belief of not good enough to inherently good? What follows are some thoughts to consider.
1. Stop trying to be good enough.
You already are; you just don’t believe it yet. I love the quote by Rumi when he says “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Likewise, stop trying to make yourself good enough; instead, tear down the beliefs that keep you from recognizing your inherent goodness.
2. Pay attention to your thoughts.
Beliefs about ourselves are based on the thought patterns we entertain. The more you think a thought the stronger a belief it becomes. If you regularly think that being better, fitter, stronger, thinner, prettier, richer, or more charismatic will make you more worthy then that will become your belief.
It’s important to note that these beliefs are often passed down generationally by society and family values; you might find you’ve been carrying a belief your whole life that isn’t even yours.
3. Notice the beliefs that support not feeling good enough are based on what you’re not.
They end with ‘er or include the words more or less, which means it’s always just a little beyond reach. It’s like sprinting as hard as you can toward the finish line but having the judges move the finish line as soon as you get there.
If we don’t modify our definition of what makes us good enough we will continue to expend energy toward unattainable goals, feel like we failed, and then try again.
4. Try making friends with your imperfections.
Making friends with imperfection doesn’t mean we ignore areas that need healing but it does mean we can acknowledge them without having our being good enough brought into question.
It acknowledges that we are imperfect, have weaknesses, and are still completely and inherently good. Those who are a good fit for you will even love you because of those imperfections, not in spite of them.
5. Take some pressure off yourself by recognizing that you are wired to struggle.
This work requires that we break down deeply entrenched beliefs likely still being supported by societal and family values. This means you would be doing something different, which can draw questioning and criticism. Because we value connection and approval there will be the urge to revert back to proving we’re good enough though accomplishment or minimizing a weakness.
6. Be patient with yourself.
There is no arrival point. It’s a skill that takes time and practice to learn in every context of our lives. And then we keep re-learning it.
Erica R. Daudt Counselor, LMHC - www.sacredwisdomcounseling.com
The underlying feeling that you are not enough can have you hustling for your worth through external achievements, but the truth is that nothing outside of you can reach a wound deep inside of you.
In fact, the hustle for self-worth is a way to avoid the feeling of not being enough.
It is a form of running away, and the achievements, much like a drug, only temporarily serve to relieve the fear and anxiety of not-enoughness.
At the root of the fear that you are not enough lies shame.
In order to engage the healing process you must stop running from shame and instead turn towards it. Nobody likes hearing that, I know. Shame is a hard emotion to feel, but I’ve also never heard of anyone being able to fill the hole of self-worth with achievements, so maybe it’s time to lay the hustle down.
I will briefly address how shame develops and provide some suggestions for resolving this common human experience.
Shame is a fundamental human emotion.
Children learn that it is not ok to do certain things, such as harming another person or destroying something valuable, through the experience of shame. Used sparingly and from a foundation of love, shame (“I am bad”) can soften into guilt (“I did something bad”) and help children build awareness of the world around them.
But you and I know that’s not how things work.
What typically happens is that a) children are shamed without the foundation of love that lets them know they are good at their core; and b) they are shamed for a variety of behaviors, including being exactly who they are.
Caregivers may withhold love until the child demonstrates a desired behavior. When this is repeated over time, the child develops the understanding that who they are at their core (internal) is reprehensible and that they must compensate for their “badness” with (external) achievements that get them the love and attention they crave.
Therefore, the healing process calls for moving goodness and worth from the external back to its rightful place, inside of you.
Dissolving the belief that you are not good enough requires a willingness to move towards the shame and actually feel it the presence of compassion, which is what was withheld at the time shame developed.
Too often I see people doubling down on their feelings of shame with more shame, the unfortunate shame spiral. Because shame is such a difficult emotion to feel, it may be important to work with a caring professional who can ease you into the experience of feeling shame while also teaching you how to find and feel compassion for yourself.
The outcome of your healing work is to reconnect to your own fundamental goodness, your light, your Higher Self.
When you can reference your own light, you are no longer dependent on external factors as substitutes for feeling good about yourself. You can free yourself from the hustle and rest in the safety of your own inherent worth.
Isha Vela, Phd - www.embodiedquest.com