The recent movie ‘Chichore’ caught my attention for the ‘I am not good enough’ syndrome. The son of the protagonist commits suicide, feeling he is not good enough to face his mom and dad, because he could not get into the IIT. It was as if he was screaming out to the parents…..”I am sorry I’m not what you wanted me to be!”.
The Protagonist then answers the million dollar question, “if someone asks me what do I want ….the life of my son or the IIT admission, I would choose my son’s life “. (Better late than never….wish this was a forethought, rather than an afterthought!)
Nothing will knock you down quicker than offering the best of yourself to someone and still not being good enough.
Not good enough – a common feeling amongst youth
That had me thinking; who decides one is not good enough? According to whom are we not good enough?
In my capacity as a Career Counsellor, I see students battling this perennial sense of inadequacy..‘I am not good enough’; struggling with the self-image and an identity crisis. Anxiety and depression are rampant between ages 16 to 19. They suffer from attacks of self-criticism and doubt, their minds live in fear, in a prison of believed thoughts, good enough or not ? – The eternal dilemma within ourselves trying desperately to escape; or feeling doomed to a life sentence.
It is unspoken within every kid; as if saying to parents, teachers and the system…”Congratulations! You’ve managed to make me feel like a worthless piece of sh*t again. Would you like an award for that?!!”
Also a core belief amongst many accomplished adults
“I’m not good enough”, is one of the most common core beliefs that our minds hold. I feel, at some point in our lives, we all suffer this disease.
- My client did her MBA from a small town university, where she topped. Currently she is a senior manager at a MNC, but feels she is not good enough or adequate to handle life; or the role she is in. She lives in constant doubt, though there is no evidence of her incompetence. She is a divorcee, a single mother and battling loneliness because she feels she is not good enough. According to her, her hometown is a very tiny place on this planet and her pedigree is of no value globally;…..in her head she feels small, shrunk and nothing is good enough for her.
- My daughter did her MBA from Oxford University and she is working for Amazon; Oxford is no.1 ranked university globally, yet she feels she is ‘not good enough’, whenever I ask her about how her job’s going! Despite the fact she is really good at what she does, she can’t bring herself to acknowledge it truly. She is the poster child of feeling “not good enough”; And while it can manifest in people in different ways, some trying to prove their worthlessness through self-destruction, she went in the opposite direction; pushing hard to prove her worth through achievements. She is grasping onto external, socially defined goals, telling herself “when I achieve them, I’d be enough; to feel ok. Like, I’m ok. I stack up. I’m enough.” There was no other reason to pursue a goal than that. But, as I think you know, that feeling never comes. The goal comes and goes and you’re on to the next one. The bar moves. Constantly.
- My own biggest fear is that I’m not good enough. I have this voice in my head that I’ve been battling for years that says, “You’re not really talented enough. You don’t really deserve this.”
I beat myself up constantly for not being perfect. I do tons of free work so people will think better of me. My self-worth is definitely somehow intertwined with what people think of my output. There is no such thing as “progress” in my head….
The mental conditioning starts right after birth
Imagine a new-born – open, vulnerable, unafraid to gaze into your eyes or out into the world from the depths of wonder and innocence. Is this little one enough?
Fast forward through the messages from mom, dad, teachers, friends, partners, the advertising media in magazines, television, self-improvement books. That vast array of messages, that say you need to be smarter, prettier, stronger, thinner, taller, shorter, calmer, friendlier, have straighter teeth, a whiter smile, make more money, always be in control; and never ever be angry, sad or confused.
Add to that our innocent and often painful misinterpretations of why daddy left or mummy seemed angry or our lover broke up with us; and our self image keeps getting tarnished.
What does “good enough” even mean?
The funny thing is that the whole concept of “good enough” unravels when you investigate it. Good enough for what? To whom? How much would you need to achieve to be enough? What would you have to get or be to be enough? To feel enough?
Feeling “not good enough” is painful. But, it is not permanent.
I started by questioning my definitions of ‘enough’. As I questioned, I heard my dad’s angry voice which was overly critical whenever I made a mistake. This resulted in my “not good enough syndrome”. I concluded that making mistakes is the worst thing in the world and lived in a constant fear of rejection. I internalized his message which strengthened my inner critic. This led to low self-esteem, shame and isolation.
Exploring the critic sitting inside
When I became aware of this voice, I started exploring my inner critic. I asked myself what I was afraid of and what I wanted, needed or longed for. I longed for acceptance, appreciation and security. I longed for purpose or wholeness. When I realized this, I started a practice of loving myself. I say practice, because that’s what it takes; practice.
To undo the years of conscious and unconscious thought patterns that make self-love conditional, will take time and patience. Permissions and affirmations like, “It is ok to make mistakes and learn from them” and “I am gentle with myself as I learn and grow” are helping me undo the lie of the “not good enough syndrome”.
If I asked you to name all the things you love, how long would it take to name yourself?
Seriously, what would your life be like, if you lost the ability to think “I’m not good enough”? What would you feel? Freedom? Ease? Peace? Love?
That’s available to you right now; and all the time;…if you decide!
If you decide, you are enough..you are ok! just the way you are; And you are. I promise!
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