There is a common them in my office. “I am not good enough”. It’s so prevalent that I cannot not write about it. Most of us can identify times when we have felt insufficient, inadequate or unworthy. The feeling is hard to bear. The tightness, squeezing, shrinking, contracting sensation.
Its hard to feel like you don’t know what you are doing.
Its hard to feel like others have it all together and you missed the boat.
Its hard to feel uneducated on a topic at a dinner party.
Its hard to hear someone else’s accomplishments and realize you aren’t there AT ALL.
When I hear my clients share these painful moments I can resonate. I am human too. We all want these uncomfortable feelings to go away, but we often just grapple with them. THINK a ton about our deficiencies and promptly get stuck there for years.
Logically we know we should stop comparing ourselves to the person being interviewed on the podcast that is promoting their book. But we can’t. Because we want that sense of accomplishment ourselves. What we don’t get to hear reported on that podcast is all the wrestling the person did to get to that point. All the fumbling and futzing and fighting with their writing schedule, or the corrective feedback they got from their editor and the sinking feeling of having to start over again.
None of that is what we see. And so, we feel isolated and separate and insufficient COMPARED to them.
I love to borrow from the 12 steps as a reality check in cases like this.
Comparing their OUTSIDES to my INSIDES.
That’s what is happening. We are forgetting they are human like us. We get to meet them at the *end* of their accomplishment and we create a story about them that their entire journey was smooth sailing.
We compare their OUTSIDE demonstration of success to our INSIDE feeling of inadequacy.
We are also seeing them through the eyes of our belief system. Our beliefs about ourselves and about other people and the world. Those beliefs are way down in there. Baked in. In our cells. It takes some concentrated work to reprogram those self-perceptions.
If we believe things are too hard or that we are incapable, it not only hurts, but it is the filter we look through every day with every thing. When we wake up in the morning its, “Oh shit can I do this?” Whatever this may be. Some of us turn around and get back in bed. Some of us suit up and force ourselves to make it happen.
A lot of us are barely making it. Barely getting through the day.
Sylvia Boorstein – “My husband started meditating because he wanted to understand life. I started because I wanted to be able to stand life.”
Its sad to know that so many of us are just trying to “stand” our lives. We judge and resist our experience and/or escape our experience with alcohol, food, Netflix or shopping.
How did we get here?
Comparing ourselves isn’t a new thing. “Keeping up with the Joneses.” Heard of that one? If you are my age you certainly have! Keeping up with the neighbors who got a new car or are sending their kids to private school or went to Paris for the weekend.
Today though, social media has pumped up the volume on our inadequacies. And its just not the truth. The 27 selfies that someone took before they found the right filter, right angle, right background…it’s just not real life. And yet somehow we lose our logic and these posts bludgeon us over the head with not-enough-ness.
“Ah! Now I am aware that someone has something I didn’t even know I wanted! Without it I am nothing!”
Now its on our minds that we are lacking something. It doesn’t matter what. We just FEEL the experience of LACK. And we are off and running. Grasping for something to even the score.
I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to offer you an antidote to
and that awful contracting SQUEEZE feeling.
Don’t look around to throw something at me okay? But its G R A T I T U D E.
Yep. The reverse of the contraction of envy which leads directly to not enough-ness, is whatever can open you up. And that is GRATITUDE.
There is another one. I hesitate to even mention it. It’s a hard one. I mean, its gonna require you to really and seriously step out of the trance of unworthiness. I will tell you, but I have ZERO EXPECTATIONS of you practicing it…yet.
Being happy for the other person.
Now you really want to throw something don’t you? I did too when I first heard it. But its just an extension of gratitude. Keep the idea in your back pocket and let’s focus on GRATITUDE first!
Its cheesy and reminds you of Stewart Smalley from Saturday Night Live. But…all we are trying to do is soften that squeeze feeling of not-good-enough.
So look around and just notice a few things. What have you overlooked? That plant in the corner that despite your neglect is still growing and has some tender new bright green leaves shooting up. The way coffee smells and tastes. Give yourself an easy one…how your dog goes bananas when you walk in the door!
Slow down and just notice what is around you. Not what you want and wish for in the future. Not what Facebook or Instagram are shoving in your face.
BE HERE NOW.
Take a breath. Relax your shoulders and your jaw and your belly and look around. There is freakishly amazing stuff around you just waiting for you to glance upon them and smile softly and say, “Thanks.”
Thanks for making me laugh hilarious-sarcastic-coworker.
Thanks for central heat and air.
Thanks for this super-powered toothbrush I just paid $9 for.
Thanks for the blue sky.
Thanks for this decent tasting protein powder I use in my smoothies.
Thanks for the pleasing sound of the keyboard as I type.
Thanks for MY life and MY journey and MY people and surroundings.
And good for you, person on Instagram, for having perfect teeth and standing on the edge of a mountain you just hiked! Good for you too!
Because we are BOTH okay. We are BOTH just doing our thing. Living our lives. Maybe one day I too will be on a mountain top with that Patagonia jacket on, looking so good and smiling really big. And for now…I am here and I am good too.