I’m not smart enough, I don’t know enough, I’m not pretty enough, not strong enough, not talented enough, not disciplined enough, not brave enough…
If you’re caught in the “not enough” trap, like I found myself in for way too many years, nothing about you ever seems quite good enough.
Standards by which you measure yourself become inhumane. Successes are rarely enjoyed, for you always feel as if you must do better. Perceived failures are magnified. Life becomes a quest for utter perfection—like the carrot dangling in front of a horse, it is chased but never truly experienced.
“If I’m 98% perfect in anything I do, it’s the 2% I’ve messed up I’ll remember when I’m through,” begins the thought process. The problem begins when we allow others—family members, our spouse, friends, a boss, popular culture—to define who we are or are not. Unfortunately, these roots of self-image often stretch far back into childhood, when negative messages we received from parents and others imprinted us with a feeling of being stupid, fat, lazy, weak or otherwise inadequate.
But as healthy adults, we can choose to truly accept ourselves—with all our strivings, quirks, faults and shortcomings—as being enough right now. The more we do that, the less vulnerable we are to the opinions of others.
I know, I know, your thinking easier said than done, right?
Go Ahead, Compare Yourself
Perfection makes liberal use of comparisons. The next time you get that feeling of not being enough, stop to examine the standard you are using to gauge yourself.
A fun way to look at the power of comparisons is this: Compare your own physical measurements to those of a person who embodies ideal physical beauty by contemporary media standards. Dwell on the differences.
Then list all the achievements you’ve accomplished up to your current age. Be extra thorough. Now compare your list to that of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at age 12. By that time, Mozart spoke 15 languages and had composed numerous major pieces of music, including an opera. Dwell on the differences.
If you’re perfectly miserable at this point, I suggest you put the knife down! Your job is to notice how negative comparisons affect your available energy for work, family, relationships—and for yourself. How do they block the authentic you from showing up?
Did You Ever Wonder…?
Here are some more questions to ponder:
- How is it that if something is not perfect, then it is nothing?
- Is it possible to accept myself and treat myself in a loving and caring manner regardless of my accomplishments or lack of them?
- Why must I be outstanding or special?
- Why does failing at something transform me into being a failure?
- What would my life be like with more humane standards?
- Can I be satisfied with progress, not perfection?
Life is a never-ending process of learning and growing in skills, experience, wisdom and compassion. Most of us are not spectacular in any category of life. And yet each one of us is worthy, lovable, competent, effective, attractive and smart enough to live lives of contribution, caring and value. The key is learning to live as Dr. Wayne Dyer states so beautifully, “independently of the good opinion of others.” That’s where the magic is!