What happens when you feel that you are not enough? The world starts crumbling around you and you feel that nothing you are doing makes a difference. You feel that you put a lot of effort into something and still you are not achieving your goals. It is like a race that never ends, and you become exhausted until you can endure no more.
Have you ever felt that no matter what you do, it is not enough? That you are not meeting your expectations or other people’s? You are not the only one! At some point in our lives, we all have felt that way.
Oftentimes we are depleted because we spend so much of our lives trying to meet the goals of others that we feel empty afterwards. It might happen in the academic field while we are studying, with your body image, in your professional life, with your family when you are trying to be what they expect you to be, trying to find your partner in life, and so on.
My first experience with the “I am not good enough” feeling was when I was eight years old and I came home from school with poor grades in math on my report card. I decided to keep it from my parents for a few days because I was too scared to show them. Oh boy, what a scandal that was afterwards! That was a bad decision!! (I learned not to hide after this, because hiding makes things worse).
After a lengthy and very uncomfortable discussion that day, my father told me, “You are not good in math; it runs in the family. We are more inclined toward humanities. In any case, we will find you a tutor, but failing again it is not an option.” He said all of this in the African way…
All of my life I have struggled with numbers and I am rewiring my mind until this day in order to love them and release the fear of them. Does that sound familiar?
Since this false belief system was instilled in me from such a young age, such experiences defined the way I related with numbers. I developed an extreme fear of becoming an entrepreneur and working for myself because I thought I wasn’t capable of doing it. For years, I attracted people around me who reminded me in one way or another of my feelings: “You just don’t like numbers!” “You have no idea about how to manage money”. The people who said these things to me were only echoing my own limited beliefs; therefore, I had no reason to take it personally!
Another funny story happened when I was a teenager. I was putting on lipstick in the ladies room when a young girl I didn’t know said to me, “You are so beautiful. Too bad you have such a big butt; otherwise you would be perfect….” I lived with this thought for years, and I developed tons of self-image issues. I started to believe that I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough. What future awaited me with this landscape? Then, when a kid in summer camp asked, “Why are you so black? What happened to you?” I didn’t know what to answer. All I could think to say was, “God made me that way,” and I started to believe that I was a victim of circumstances and that my future would be as black as the color of my skin.
Now, this is how the feeling of “I am not good enough” might start for some of us, based on previous experiences. For others, later in life, when something doesn’t turn out as we expected, we may start thinking that we are not good enough. Whatever the circumstances are that lead us to think that we are not enough, the truth is that thinking that way is extremely damaging to ourselves and for our goals! How can we cure ourselves from the syndrome and make the alchemy to believe in ourselves and to believe and feel that we are not only enough, but more than enough?
I would like to share with you some steps that I have found useful:
- Identify it and accept it: The first step is to realize that your belief doesn’t match the reality and, even if it is deeply rooted in you and change it, it is not easy make peace with it. In my case, I didn’t have the knowledge in psychology to identify it, so I thought I was a victim of circumstances. Only when I found out that it was just a belief and not a truth could I start reversing it.
- Break the silence: Too often, shame keeps us away from the solution to our feelings. Talk to someone and let them know how you feel. You will find out that you are not alone, and that can be extremely freeing.
- Start installing new beliefs: You need to start by finding your own value within you and start believing that you are capable of more and better. At the beginning, it is not easy to cheerlead yourself and build your self-esteem, but it is like a muscle—the more you start thinking, “I am good enough,” the more you will believe it!
- Go from powerless to powerful: You don’t have remain stuck. You may feel ashamed, as though you’re somehow inadequate or bad, and you might be full of fear, so you keep looking to others to tell you who to be and what to do, compromising yourself and your needs along the way. It’s time to peel away the layers of your false self and to discover, instead, your true self and your super powers!
- Recognize that is normal to feel fraudulent at times: If you are one of only a few women and/or minorities in your field or workplace, you might feel like you are an outsider, and you might develop self-doubt as a result of being the exception.
- Develop a different approach to failure and making mistakes: See mistakes as an opportunity to become better and as part of your journey. Do not beat up yourself up for being human.
- Fake it till you become it: Don’t wait until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Develop a new script. I might not know all the answers, but I am smart enough to find them out.
- Reward yourself: Break the cycle of continually seeking validation outside yourself by learning to reward yourself whenever you reach a milestone or achieve a specific goal.
As individuals, we have the unique power of free will to decide that we are, in fact, good enough. You are the person who can open up the doors to your self-worth, which governs what you do. In order to achieve the feeling of being good enough, you must first believe it. If you choose not to do so, then no one else can do it for you. You must believe—truly believe—that you are good enough, which will allow you to let go of your quest for perfection and the feeling of self-doubt. As simple as it sounds, the only way to achieve self-love is to love yourself—regardless of who you are, where you stand, and even if you know you want to change.
You are enough just as you are, and self-love will be a little bit easier every time you remind yourself of that.