Five words are all it takes to shatter your self-esteem. Five words that every single person has thought at one time or another: I am not good enough.
This feeling of unworthiness can show up in many places. It can show up by the pool when you tell yourself, “I’m not fit enough to wear this bathing suit.” It can show up in your workplace when you think, “I’m not experienced enough to get this promotion.” And it can show up in your relationships when you say to yourself, “I’m not smart enough to date this person.”
The odd thing about this feeling of lack is that it often holds little truth, and that it persists through success and failure. We tell ourselves, “If only I was stronger, smarter, richer, thinner and more competent.” Our distorted thinking leads us to believe that if we just possessed what we were missing, everything would come easier, life would be less complicated, we would complain less and all would be well in our world.
Unfortunately, it seems fulfillment is hard to come by. No matter how many projects we complete or how many unbelievable feats we achieve, we still find places where we think we aren’t good enough. When we feel like we fall short, we continuously collect evidence to support this belief — we seek out and pick up items to drop in our “not good enough” basket.
- We cook a delicious meal, but call ourselves a substandard cook because we burnt the asparagus.
- We run three miles, but label ourselves as lazy because we didn’t run five.
- We throw a marvelous party, but consider ourselves a poor hostess because six guests left early.
The skill required for conquering this feeling of inadequacy lies in our thinking. Once we can be aware of the thoughts that wreck havoc on our self-esteem, we can begin to shift our thoughts elsewhere. Here are some tips for silencing the voice that can corrode your confidence:
- Find your strengths. Ask 10 people around you to describe your greatest strengths. Take notes and afterwards find similarities between the responses. Talk to your parents, teachers, boss, friends, significant other/ spouse, neighbors and co-workers. You’ll be amazed by how much people point out and admire.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Pay attention to times when you size yourself up to others, and recognize that it’s a habit that doesn’t serve you well. Switch your perspective so you view the success of others as inspiration instead of deterrence from your own success. Surround yourself by people who challenge you to be better. Oftentimes, when you see people around you succeeding, you naturally begin to expect and to create your own success.
- Collect proof that you are good enough. When you feel the icky “not good enough” feeling creeping in, resist the urge to succumb. Look for instances in your past where you’ve excelled and give yourself credit where it’s due. For example, if you feel like you’re horrible at technology, recall times when you weren’t all that bad at troubleshooting your computer or cell phone. If you feel you’re not good enough to qualify for a prestigious program, think of times when you’ve risen above the status quo.
- Find the opportunity for growth. Instead of letting your critical self-talk get to you, use it as incentive to develop yourself in various areas. Seek out courses, books and people who can teach you more about the areas in which you feel weak. For example, if you feel you’re not good at investing your money, find an online class that will teach you the steps for making your money grow. Go to the local library and take out books like The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham or Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.
- Pat yourself on the back every day. Find a way to compliment yourself every day. At the end of each day, write down your daily accomplishments. Think about the moments where you made a smart decision, came up with a great idea, made progress on a project, completed a goal, volunteered your time, embarked on a new initiative or had fun. Impress yourself a little!
- Invest in a personal coach. A coach can help you understand and eliminate the thinking which brings you down. They can help you experience more joy and ease in your everyday life. Find an experienced coach who can relate to you and resonate with you. A coach can empower you to break through your self-imposed limits and achieve extraordinary success.
Once we decide to scout out and pick up different evidence, our perspective of our capabilities will begin to shift.
- We will take a long time to finish a work project, but pat ourselves on the back for doing an awesome job.
- We will forget to pick up ketchup at the grocery store, but call ourselves creative problem solvers because we use tomato sauce instead.
- We will stumble through a presentation, but praise ourselves for having the courage to publicly speak authentically in the first place.
Once we shine a light on our thinking, we will start to respect ourselves more and acknowledge our strengths with pride. We will find ways to see ourselves as successful, funny, exciting, intelligent and attractive. We will realize that we don’t have to be perfect … and we won’t think twice about whether or not we’re good enough. We are.
How can you believe that you’re good enough today? What is one way you can push back negative thinking?
Image via Barbara Marcella Photography