Am I good enough?

Am I good enough?

The biggest disease plaguing the human society today

Aditi Raman Shridhar
We are living in a world where we are constantly exposed to everyone else’s success and achievements whether in physical beauty, wealth, love and relationships, or in popularity with or without any talent. Thanks to social media and its infinite consumption by our minds throughout the day, it is easy to feel like we are not good enough, that we are lacking in something which is available to others and that we are simply a waste of a life.

To get over this feeling, we begin to go to the gym and build our bodies, we work hard and set aside all the delicious meals that made us happy, we get fitter in order to ‘compensate’ for some of the lack, we work harder to get a promotion, but no matter what we do, the nagging feeling of unfulfillment and lack and not being good enough still stays.

Psychologists unanimously point out at our childhood as the source of all our issues in adult life, and rightly so. ‘Why can’t you score as high as your friend, why aren’t you as polite as your friend, look how effortless she is in her dance moves, why can’t you be more diligent and hard working at your work, why aren’t you as tall as your friend, look how graceful she is when she speaks to everyone, why can’t you be better at what you do,’ and the list goes on.

Rebel or people-pleaser?

Very early on in our childhood we learn that we are not enough to please our parents, our friends, our neighbours, teachers, friends and just about anybody that we meet. If there are appreciations, we feel like we earned it and if there is a criticism, we feel like we failed. And then we are taught that failures make you stronger, so we stand up again, brush the dirt from our sleeves, shake off our despair and try again. And this cycle of failing and rising up again and then earning some claps and praises becomes the only pattern in our lives and as adults we still keep doing that. It percolates our marriages, our workplaces, our friend circle, and every gathering we are invited to. The flip side of this behaviour is that internally we know that we are scared, not appreciated enough by others, not great enough to be called a success, so one fine day we drop this facade and become rebels.

It is interesting how one transforms from a people-pleaser to a rebel because there is no other method of being that one knows. Let me give you an example. If you see your mother or sibling being a people pleaser, you are likely to tell them to stop being so and ‘live their life on their own terms’. But nobody really knows what that feeling is like. So, in all possibilities the one-upon-a-time people pleaser is bound to turn into a rebel. “I don’t care what others think of me, I am going to do whatever the hell I want to do, and speak what the hell I want to speak. I can live the way I want and be unapologetically me.”

While this is what might be needed sometimes in some scenarios, say where you are getting physically or emotionally abused or being bullied, but in life neither being a people pleaser nor a rebel really helps. Not even yourself. It only gives more misery. In either attitude, no one is seeing you for the real person that you are.

All our feelings of not being good enough that we learn as kids are exacerbated when we grow up and encounter social media. We see other people’s filtered lives and feel sorry for ourselves. The glamourous photographs, the social recognitions, the titles, the exotic trips, they hurt us inside. We shut down the laptop, television or the smartphone and go to the mirror and judge ourselves. Or we lie down in despair. We contemplate how life could have been had we had better parents, better family relationship, better guidance, more wealth, more exposure, better schooling, more foresight, more understanding, better technology, etc etc. The list goes on. There are regrets that come to the fore – had I been a better student I would have had a better career today. Had I married that guy, my life would have been more fun today. Had my parents been more loving and caring I would have been more sorted in my emotions today.

This is absurd because your parents didn’t know any better. And neither would you when you become a parent because times are constantly changing and the only way you can have confident, happy, healthy kids is by being one yourself. Kids imitate parents like monkeys.

“It is my fault”

This is a syndrome in the current era. Psychologist Karyl McBridge writes in a magazine Psychology Today that after three decades of working as a therapist with dysfunctional families, such as narcissistic and abusive families, she has seen first-hand cases where the internalised “not good enough’ message comes from.

Children are like sponges and they take in their environment on emotional levels as well as physical and intellectual levels. They learn very early that if Mommy and Daddy are happy then they themselves will be happier too and get more of that love they need. In a case of a narcissistic family, for example, the parent might be self-loathing and they project this onto their children rather than embrace and resolve their own feelings. It’s always someone else’s fault for such a parent. So the child interprets it as “It must be me.” “It must be my fault if my parent is mean to me, or can’t love me.” “I must be unlovable.” So the child ends up carrying the emotional baggage of the family and takes on the burden. “If only I could do more.”

I am enough: marisa peer method

World famous psychologist Marisa Peer says that our mind accepts the familiar and rejects the unfamiliar. Lottery winners usually lose all their money in two years because their mind is familiar with the lack, not the abundance of wealth. They find every way, therefore, to spend it and come back to the original state of wealth. Even celebrities or middle class people who are fat and lose weight, celebrate the loss of weight with a pizza and coke. This is because the mind feels familiar to the fat shape of body.

When we are born, our minds know that we are enough, completely abundant and loved. But it is the experiences in life, the words of parents, the expressions and vibes of elders who criticize us or appreciate us, compare us and make us compete with others that condition us to believe that we are not enough. Hence, the simple method to reverse it is to say to yourself in the mirror – you are enough. Write ‘I am Enough’ on your mirror or on your phone so that you see it when you wake up or sleep. Repeat this till you internalize it. Your mind will accept this because another powerful feature of the mind is that it cannot differentiate between the real or imaginary. So, it can create you think constantly and tell yourself.

Say it to yourself – I Am Enough, I Am Enough, I Have Always Been Enough, Now That I Know I Am Enough Everyone Else Knows It Too. I Am Enough And I Will Always Be Enough. It Doesn’t Matter What I Have Achieved Or Lost in Life. I Am Still Enough And Will Always Be.

Please limit social media. It does you no favour in terms of self-esteem. Your life looks amazing on social media too, right, just like everyone else’s. So let it go. Find a hobby that you makes you cheerful and brings you closer to nature and life. Good luck. Until next week.

Aditi Raman Shridhar is an Indian writer, wellness expert and health instruction.

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