What is your immediate answer to this question?
Maybe you answer yes in relation to one area of your life.
No in relation to another area of your life.
And maybe the answer in another aspect of your life is – I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it.
I would bet that most of us would answer ‘no, I don’t think I’m good enough’ in at least one aspect of our lives.
Do you feel like you are on top of your game at work? Or do you allow other people’s opinions (or what you perceive to be other people’s opinions) to get into your head and question your performance?
Do you have a hobby? Art or music maybe? Has anyone ever told you “You should sell these/perform in front of others” and you say “HA! No way, no one would buy/come listen to me.”
What about your exercising? Do you wonder how many people are laughing at your downward dog in yoga class? How about picking up weights that are 5lbs lighter than you know you can lift just because you worry about someone laughing at you for not being able to lift more?
Oh…..the list can go on and on. From what we wear, how our hair looks, what our weight is, to what we say when socializing, how we show up in a meeting at work scared to offer opinions in fear they will sound dumb or how we move our bodies while exercising.
In fact, answer me this….when is the last time you got a complement and really felt like you deserved it? Wow, you look great today! Ha, we say, I could really stand to lose a few pounds and my shoes are not the latest style, but thanks for making me smile.
UGH! Doesn’t it get exhausting to constantly feel like you are always sub-par? To question your abilities? To undermine your confidence as being a fantasy world that only you live in and others are laughing at you behind your back?
This idea of not being good enough can manifest itself in your life in many different ways. For example, Imposter syndrome (defined as “as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.) ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.
Or how about the continued to need to get one more degree, one more person to confirm you are right, a perfect score on your tests, the highest rating from your boss or a standing ovation after a speech?
Sure! There is always room for personal development. But I believe we often mistake the word ‘development’ for ‘improvement’. Development is GROWTH. Improvement is being BETTER. The subtle difference here is that growth allows room for exploration – while being better forces a sense of urgency and pressure with little room for error.
Believing that we ‘aren’t good enough’ is what we call, in my Thrive Global coaching/facilitation work, a limiting paradigm. There are hours worth of material behind this concept, but at a very high level, a limiting paradigm is a belief that you have about yourself that is so strong it impacts how you perceive reality. This article also gives you a great overview of limiting paradigms in the context of Thrive Global work.
For example, have you ever submitted a big project at work and sat waiting for feedback? And, if you don’t receive positive reinforcement for your work within an hour, do you wonder what’s going on? Did the person who received your work not like it? Are they laughing at you behind your back? Are they sharing how awful your work is with other colleagues? Are they so disappointed in what you submitted that they just can’t write you an email? Or call you? Can they just not find the words to tell you that you are just not good at your job?
I’m exhausted just having written down that big paragraph of stress. But here you are, sitting and worrying, stressing out, not getting other work done because you can’t concentrate, convinced that you are going to lose your job/the sale/the account.
And then what!? How will you ever pay your bills? How will you ever face your family/friends being this big loser?
Have you ever stopped to consider that the person on the receiving end of your work may just be busy? May need time to read through your work? May be so excited by what you have done that they have just moved on and forgotten to tell you? Or maybe, just maybe, they haven’t even looked at their emails yet (because of course, they are not sitting around just waiting to get YOUR email) and just need more time before they respond?
I’ve been there. I am there. And I will always have this ‘I’m not good enough’ limiting paradigm to battle with.
From getting straight As in school to prove that I am smart, to getting a 4.0 average in the hardest major at college to prove I am the best, to my need for high ratings and fast track promotions when working in the corporate world.
Even to writing this blog and hoping that every. single. person who reads this believes that this was the best piece of writing that they read today!
I aim for development and growth, but I can easily get bogged down in feelings of not being quite good enough. And these feelings erode my true being. My true self. I begin to write about things that I believe others want to hear vs. what I believe, or feel, or desire.
Phew! Heavy stuff, right? Well here’s the good news – you CAN develop a positive paradigm. You CAN find ways to turn this ‘not good enough’ feeling around.
And in doing so, you create so much power, from yourself and for others, that you’ll wonder why it took you so long to feel so empowered!
Like any good/healthy habit or routine you have in your life, you need to first figure out what you want to feel instead. What you want to believe. Who you would rather be.
Take weight loss as an example. You want to lose weight. So, you set a goal (hopefully realistic). You know that good nutritional eating and exercise are the anchors to weight loss/healthy body development.
So every day, you do something to trigger your brain to think differently than you have in the past in order to make change.
Before: Your brain knows it’s time for breakfast and can hardly wait for that donut to make it’s way into your mouth on your way to work! Woo hoo! Breakfast on the run for busy people!
But to lose weight, you know that your breakfast has to look a bit healthier. Maybe a boiled egg and some fruit. So you replace that donut with a boiled egg and some fruit.
Sure, the first week or two you may struggle. Why? Because your brain is wondering what the heck is going on!! Where is that sweet delishiousness that used to appear at 7am every morning as you ran out the door?
You may feel deprived. You may wonder why you are putting yourself through this torture. But you know why – you are trying to create a healthier habit to reach a goal.
So you keep going. And soon things are easier. In fact, sometimes you even look forward to this healthier breakfast because you feel better! You are thinking more clearly. You aren’t crashing from a sugar buzz 2 hours later? Oh yeah, and is that number on the scale actually trending downward?
After a few months: You feel healthier. You believe you CAN be a healthy person. Your brain no longer really wants that donut (OK, let’s not get crazy – maybe on weekends every now and then a donut is a nice treat). But your brain is no longer wrapped around the fact that donuts = breakfast. You have created a new way of thinking. A new belief. A new habit.
While I would argue that changing an eating better may be a bit easier than a long term ingrained belief about your worth in life, I hope the example made the point.
You CAN change the way you think. This concept is called neuroplasticity, and if interested in a more in-depth explanation, I encourage you to read this article.
So here I sit with you. Working on my limiting paradigm of I’m not good enough. Of noticing when my brain is spiraling down that fearful, stressful, anxiety filled avenue of ‘what are other people thinking’ of me.
And the minute I start down that road, I stop myself. I pause. I remind myself that I did my best. That I am happy about the product I delivered. That while I look forward to finding ways to grow and develop, I have come pretty far already, and that’s pretty great unto itself.
I may take a few minutes to remind myself of those examples of how much I have already done. I was a Partner at a large corporation. I am a coach/facilitator/blogger with a following. I am in an amazing relationship with Rj. I am a daughter/sister/aunt who shows up and participates in family life (and even think some of my nieces/nephews may think I’m a bit fun!). I am a healthy person who takes care of her body and mind and can do crazy things like walk 192 miles across England.
These reminders, these affirmations of my worth, these anchors of my life – they are all pieces of my positive paradigm that I AM good enough.
Because just like you, I am good enough in who I am. Right now. Right here. And other people’s opinions are just that – other people’s opinions. Some may be good! Some may not.
But frankly, either way, my opinion of myself is the only one that matters.