Most of us don’t believe in ourselves. Inwardly we’re our own worst critics. In short, we think “I’m not enough”. When we don’t believe in ourselves we tend not to believe in others. We imagine some other people are wonderful, celebrities say, but when we encounter other people we doubt them and we doubt their motives, especially towards us. We may imagine they are critical of us – after all, we are. We may even fear feedback.
This mild paranoia may be fairly universal. In my twenties, my fragile self-belief meant I felt the need to head off criticism even before there was any evidence of it! I would try to look quick, strong and be ready to argue with anyone. Like a boxer, I was sparring with shadows, fighting with my fears. This needing to be right – because otherwise I’m not enough – may be the basis of most unhealthy conflict.
It gets worse. As well as not believing in ourselves and others, we tend not to believe in life: “I’m not enough, you’re not enough, there’s not enough”. But I am, you are and there is. How do we get to feel the truth of this?
Here’s a way to build a bridge to Okayness. When you notice an “I’m not cool-enough-OK” thought add “for …” and then a context. For example, “I’m not enough … for this day”. As soon as you do that, you can ask yourself, is it true: will you be enough for this day?
It’s the same for this task, this meeting, this relationship. The answer for any question about the future may be “maybe”! Personally, I like the response “We’ll see”, meaning we’ll see if I’m enough for this task, meeting, relationship. This not-knowing makes life interesting.
Another bridge: you might notice that almost always you get the task done, have the meeting, and enjoy some aspects of the relationship. Congratulations, you have often been enough. And of course sometimes we mess up the task, meeting, relationship, which tells us we’re not perfect, which we already knew, and provides an opportunity for a fresh encounter.
And another if you’re feeling creative: notice the thought that you’re not enough. Then have fun with it: “There I go again”, “That’s just me doubting myself”, “Who am I to doubt myself”. Notice the old pattern and disrupt it.
Speaking for myself, I don’t get everything ‘right’, and am OK with that, and if you’re like some of the wonderful people I know, you won’t get everything ‘right’ either, and I’m more than OK with that, and with them and with you too. We’re all in the same soup.
What’s more I kind of like it that we aren’t perfect and the world isn’t perfect either. We have work to do. Wouldn’t it be dull otherwise?
Categories: Living and Leading