Sometimes We Feel Like We Are Not Good Enough
Comparison. Dejection. Depression. We have all been there before. Sometimes we look at other people’s lives, and we feel less than. For instance, we feel like we are not successful or good enough.
This is a painful feeling.
And the feeling often snowballs because we receive social messages encouraging such unhelpful comparison. For example, in schools, in the media, and even sometimes through distorted religious teachings, we learn to compare ourselves or with some standard of perfection and to feel shame if we can’t achieve it.
While the feeling of not being good enough is common, we do not have to dwell in it. And we can even learn how to head such feelings off at the pass. Here are four things you can do when you feel like you are not good enough.
Searching for Love, Happiness and Meaning
One: Realize that what you are actually searching for is love, happiness, and meaning. And you have everything you need inside you to cultivate these things.
We pursue success and being good enough as a means of gaining love, happiness, and meaning.
To see this more clearly, imagine how you would feel if you became extremely successful, but no one cared or noticed it. This experience would decrease the meaning of your success in your eyes. Your success would likely no longer be valuable to you, and you would instead pursue some kind of success or accomplishment that others did recognize.
So when we worry that we are not good enough, it is usually because we are afraid our lack of success means that we will not be able to get the love and recognition we desire.
Furthermore, we worry that because of this, our life will not mean anything, and we will not be happy.
Realizing this is important. That’s because it helps us to understand what we really want: love, happiness, and meaning. If we understand what we really want, we can understand better how to get these important gifts.
The good news is that you have everything you need inside of you to cultivate love, happiness, and meaning., which I will address shortly.
Here is something you can say to yourself the next time you feel like you are not good enough: What I am really seeking for is love, happiness and meaning, and I have everything I need inside of me to cultivate these things.
Two: The second thing we can do when we do not feel good enough is to switch from performance-oriented living to being-oriented living.
Love, happiness, and meaning are certainly good and beautiful things to pursue. But the best way to get these things is to switch from performance-oriented living to being-oriented living.
When we live according to performance-oriented living, we believe that we are not lovable and that our life does not have meaning unless we meet some external standards of success, beauty, accomplishments, wealth, fame, etc. The problem with performance-oriented living is that the standards of performance are arbitrary, unreliable, fickle, and they are not a good means of achieving what we actually want.
If performance-oriented living was a good way to achieve these goals, then people would automatically become permanently happy and content when they met external goals. For instance they would immediately become happy when they accomplished things like making a lot of money, publishing a best-selling novel, winning beauty contests, or achieving fame through some kind of invention or accomplishment.
But this is not the case. Consider how many extremely famous and successful people are depressed and miserable. Consider how many times you have accomplished some kind of external goal but soon afterwards felt discontent and dissatisfied.
The problem with performance-oriented living is that when love and meaning come from meeting some kind of external standards, we can never be good enough. This because there is always someone who is better than we are at something. There is always something else to achieve.
In addition to these issues, basing our worth on external standards is risky because people may or may not recognize our achievements. Standards of success and achievement change frequently, and people, as a whole, are notoriously fickle.
They forget our success and quickly move on to the next big thing. When this happens, if we are stuck in performance-oriented living, we are left wondering once again if we are worthy of love and if our life has meaning. This diminishes our happiness. All of these issues suggest that if we base our worth on performance, we will never feel good enough.
The antidote to performance-oriented living is being-oriented living. When we practice being instead of performing, we recognize that each of us contains profound creativity, wisdom, compassion, and power. By power here, I mean our ability to express our human capacities in unique and meaningful ways that transform the world for good.
We could call this combination of our creativity, wisdom, compassion, and power a lot of different things, but I will refer to it in this post as our light. When we practice being-oriented living, we nurture our light (more on this in a minute), and we allow our unique human life to unfold.
One way of understand being-oriented living is to think of a forest full of trees. Trees are never concerned with achieving some external standard or sign of success. They are never concerned that they are not further along in their development or that they do not look like other trees. Trees are concerned with one thing: being trees.
They do this by taking in nourishment through sunshine, rain, and soil nutrient and by responding to the rain and other environmental elements around them. As they do this, their unique beauty unfolds, and they certainly achieve success and meaning (tree-style, anyhow), but they do it in a way that is authentic to them. They harmonize and fit in perfectly with the trees around them. (This is love, tree-style).
We should take the tree as our mascot. We need to focus on being and allowing our unique capacities unfold. As we do this, we will certainly achieve success and love, but it will develop from our unique light, and it will be authentic and meaningful to us.
In addition, as we allow our light to develop, it will connect to the light in others, and this will allow us to cultivate further the love and meaning we seek. Here is something you can say the next time you do not feel good enough: I do not have to be anything other than what I am right now. I am cultivating my own unique being and allowing it to unfold naturally.
Nurture Your Light
Three: The third thing we can do when we do not feel good enough is nurture our light so that we increase our own personal power.
This allows us to continue to cultivate the love and meaning we desire.
The two key ways to nurture our light is to cultivate loving thoughts towards ourselves and to practice loving actions. We are often not very accustomed to considering our light, and we are often not accustomed to considering how loving thoughts and loving cultivate it. But consider something for a moment.
If it is not too painful, recall a time when someone said or did something cruel to you. Can you remember how it made you feel small, diminished, wilted? Now remember a time when someone did or said something loving and kind to you. Do you remember how you felt powerful, strong, and vibrant?
It is important to realize that we have this same effect on ourselves. When we say or do cruel things to ourselves, we diminish our power and wilt our spirit. When we shower ourselves with loving words and practices, we empower ourselves and make our beautiful light more brilliant.
So what are loving thoughts and practices? Here are some loving thoughts you can send to yourself:
I love and accept myself exactly as I am right now.
And, I do not have to do more. I just have to keep unfolding who I already am.
There is no comparison, no contest.
All I am required to do is love myself and love others.
I honor the light in me. I honor the light in others.
And, I love myself and am so grateful I get to be my unique self in this lifetime.
The key to using loving thoughts is to use ones that ring true to you and that make you feel empowered. If one of the thoughts above does not make you feel empowered or if it does not ring true to you, feel free to ignore it or to change it until it fits you.
Not all loving thoughts are right for everyone. They are kind of like clothes—you have to make sure they are a good fit. A loving thought that is a good fit for you feels completely true to you and helps you feel more peaceful and powerful—larger in your spirit.
If you are not used to sending loving thoughts to yourself, start out with some very basic loving thoughts, and you can eventually work your way up to bolder loving thoughts. Here are some basic ones you can try on for size:
I am willing to love myself.
And, I am willing to focus on being rather than doing.
I am willing to honor my light and the light of everyone else.
And, I am willing to learn to accept myself just as I am right now.