Am I Enough?
This question… this question haunts us all in so many ways. This question creeps into crevices in our lives and strikes out at us, making us feel uncertain and unworthy. In our achievement and success oriented society, we are beat over the head with this question, Am I Enough, every. single. day.
I’ve had this conversation several times this week, and more than I can count over the years. Whether we are comparing ourselves to someone else, to a standard society set, or to a former or expected version of ourselves, we all do it and it is always painful.
So let’s dig in.
I want this post to be more of an experience. I want you to settle into wherever you are, take a deep, grounding breath, and tune into yourself for a minute. In what ways do you feel “not enough”, where does that phrase sneak into your life? Take a moment.
This is soul grating, button pushing work.
Where does this question live in your world?
Here are a list of common areas that “Not Good Enough” tends to thrive:
- Body Image
- Social Life
- Skill Sets (sports, gaming, etc)
As it turns out, Not Good Enough’s best friend is shame. They go hand in hand. When we don’t feel up to par, we feel bad about ourselves (our bodies, our brains, etc…) and that brings on shame, which only serves to perpetuate the cycle. As a society we have perfected shame, shaming ourselves and one another for any perceived shortcoming. We’ve disguised shame as motivation… if I don’t shame myself, how will I ever improve??? But recent research shows that shame isn’t motivating at all. In fact, it’s quite discouraging. Shocking, I know.
So let me tell you something right now.
You are Enough
In this moment, right here, right now, you’re enough.
Listen, we all have room to improve and to grow. Hopefully our lives are one big exercise in growth. But right here in this moment, this is all we have, and it is enough for right now. If you’d like to make some changes, grow, learn, get healthy, by all means do those things. But for goodness sakes don’t shame yourself. What is right here and right now is all we have so why hate it, why beat yourself up for it, why let shame cast it’s heavy hand on you? Why?
Do me a favor and settle yourself again, take a deep breath, think of those areas where you aren’t feeling good enough. Find a place in your heart where compassion lives. It might be easier to find compassion for someone or something else first, but once you’ve found that place I want you to direct that compassion towards yourself. Tell yourself “I accept _____________ (my body, where I am in my career, etc…)”. Sit with that for a while, repeat it, feel the feelings that come with it without needing to change or ignore them. When the acceptance has settled in a bit create some affirmations for yourself, here are some examples:
- My body made two people, it’s pretty amazing.
- It’s ok that I’m introverted, I am a good friend to those I have.
- My career is only one aspect of my life.
- I deserve to be happy despite my shortcomings.
And the best of all
- I AM ENOUGH!
Please remember, you don’t have to be everything. Furthermore, you can’t be everything. You may see people doing more, having more (I could write a whole different post on this one), being in better shape, etc…. You can’t do it all, and more so, you probably don’t want to. I was discussing this with a few other therapists this week… the pressure to do speaking engagements or write a book when all I really want is to be in my office doing the work with clients. This pressure of being considered “good enough” is pushing me towards things I am not even interested in! So when you find yourself in this place, comparing yourselves with others, here are a few tips:
- Stop and check in with yourself. Is this even something you would want in your life? Is it actually important to you or is it message you’re getting from outside of yourself?
- Go to a place of gratitude. Make a list of three things you are grateful for (they don’t have to be literal things, experiences, characteristics, feelings all count too).
- Do a loving kindness meditation- send yourself some love.
- Use the affirmations you developed above.
- Create a plan to move towards goals that are important to you.
But most of all please remind yourself that you are uniquely you, you are on your own path going your own way. Life is not a race or a competition so take your time to learn, grow, feel, change, and develop in your own way. Life is painful enough on it’s own, you don’t need to help it by hurting yourself. Be kind, be understanding, be your own biggest fan. Repeat with me:
I am enough.
I am enough.
I am enough.
For more information on shame check out Brene Brown’s work:
For information on self compassion, check out Kristin Neff’s work: