Updated: 5 days ago
Develop ways to improve your self-worth and know that you are enough.
Six tips for when you don't feel enough
As a counsellor, one of the main hurdles I see with clients is a feeling of inadequacy, a sense of not being "enough". This theme is present in all aspects of life, from relationships, workplaces, parenting, social acceptance and much more.
Do you have an underlying fear that you are unworthy, inadequate, or unlovable? If so, read on to find five strategies to help you believe in yourself.
How does 'not good enough' show up in your life?
Not feeling good enough shows up in all domains of life. Ever felt not worthy of love from a romantic partner, not good enough at your job, not (fill in the blank) to be friends with people? If you relate to any of these, you are not alone in this human longing for love, connection and validation.
If you make a mistake at work, you are suddenly bad at everything and catastrophes losing your job. Or, the person you are dating has not texted you back, and you can not stop looking at your phone and feel a sense of dread that they are not interested in you anymore. Or your partner has cancelled your dinner plans, and suddenly you worry that the relationship is doomed and they don't love you anymore. I see this time and time again with my client.
The psychology of not feeling Enough
We feel this way because we are hard-wired for connection and acceptance from others. In our very being, we need to know that others will be there for us. And our minds panic at the slightest hint that they are not there. The amygdala, your alarm centres in the brain, gets activated. We are flooding you with hormones, including adrenalin, preparing you for the fight, flight or freeze response. This may show up as an argument or closing down from another.
If we break this down, most of our insecurities come down to our attachment style. Our attachments form with our primary caregivers as children. When our needs are met as a child, we learn to regulate our emotions and have a sense of worthiness and safety. If we did not get our needs met enough of the time or experienced neglect, abuse or over-protectiveness, we developed insecure attachments. Insecure attachments can result in anxiety within the relationship or avoidance of the relationship. For more information on Attachment Styles, check out my other blog. (How to know if your partner is a healthy match) If you develop insecure attachments, you will see this play out in your relationships with others, and you may constantly fear rejection. Most of all, you will feel it in your relationship with yourself.
An insecure attachment leads to difficulty expressing needs and emotions, fear of abandonment and a lack of self-worth. Your inner critic can tear you apart and put you down at any mistake or sign of people not caring. You may find that you believe you know what the other person is thinking. "They think I am a complete idiot", Or "I know they don't care". Which further compounds the belief of 'not being good enough.' The truth is, you don't know what other people are thinking. To feel worthy comes from within, not from others. The way to feel good about yourself is not to rely on others but to wholeheartedly give yourself the love you deserve.
Your thoughts control your feelings. Over time, these thoughts and stories you tell yourself become your internal beliefs. We call these beliefs cognitive distortions or schemas. Over a lifetime of reaffirming the story, every time something in your life goes wrong, it is normal for these beliefs to get stronger and become your reality. You then start to believe that you are not good enough. Getting out of this restrictive mindset takes practice, patience, time and observation. You can change the neuropathways to a positive outlook and feel worthy. Once you realise that you are in control of your thoughts, you can start making changes that align with your true values and trust yourself.
Six tips to feel enough
1. Practice self-compassion
The most crucial step in the process is giving yourself compassion. This involves talking to yourself the way you would speak to a good friend. Create distance between your inner critic and create space for kindness and self-love. Instead of thinking, "I have made a mistake, I am a complete failure", Try ", I have made a mistake, it is okay, I am human, and what have I learnt from this mistake will cause me to grow". Another example, imagine that your partner forgot your date night. Your thought is, "They don't love me. They are probably seeing someone else. I am an idiot for thinking that they loved me" Try, "They've been busy with work recently. I can see how it was easy for them to forget, I know it is not because of me."
Self-compassion can be provided to you in many ways. It can be affirmations that you tell yourself every day. Instead of starting the day with the mantra of not being enough, could you change it to I AM ENOUGH? If times are hard, try placing a hand on your heart and acknowledge that times are hard at the moment. Speak kindly, letting yourself know that it is not your fault and you will get through it. Make sure you are providing yourself time for self-care. Spend time doing things that bring you joy, such as time in nature, painting, reading, or simply having a bath.
2. Grow from failure
When you feel unworthy, you can become a perfectionist—having a constant fear of making a mistake. When we explore this, it usually is nothing to do with the tasks at hand; it has everything to do with the judgment of others that scares you. It is easy to catastrophise about the worst possible outcome, yet the reality is usually much kinder. Your inner critic can prevent you from taking risks or pursuing the things that are meaningful to you. We are human, and the way we learn is through our mistakes, which enables us to become stronger and succeed in what is meaningful to us. Take one small risk every day and build your confidence slowly.
3. Improve communication
Often if you have thoughts of not being good enough, you feel too scared to voice what your needs are to others, especially romantic partners. This can lead to feelings of resentment. For example, you may act out in a way that demands your partner's attention. He forgets the dinner date, and your reaction is, " You don't care about me; you always forget!" Or you may expect your partner to read your mind and know what you need and feel annoyed if they don't know. As much as we would love for our loved ones to read our minds, unfortunately, they can't. Building your communication skills is a sure way to feel heard and get the validation you need.
Using "I" statements is an effective way to communicate your need without your partner becoming defensive. Using the example above, "I feel sad that you forgot our dinner date. I worried that you don't care about me. It would mean a lot to me for you to prioritise spending time together". This is a softer approach and enables your partner to hear why it hurts you.
Practising mindfulness goes a long way regarding the thoughts in our heads. Daily practice is a great way to help calm down your mind and body. A calmer mind helps prevent you from feeling on high alert or being triggered easily. It can also help separate your thoughts from your feelings and emotions.
5. Observe your thoughts
The feeling of not being good enough is a series of cognitive distortions, thoughts and stories that you tell yourself to reaffirm the belief. Over time this can become exhausting as it occupies your mind and depletes your energy levels. Using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy are proven practical ways to challenge or let go of unhelpful thoughts impacting the quality of your life. The practice of observing your thoughts and monitoring them can feel uncomfortable at the start. However, once you clearly understand your thoughts and how they affect your emotions and behaviours, you can move towards overcoming the mental process, enabling you to channel that mental energy into values important to you.
6. Work with a therapist
It can feel lonely going through this process alone. Working with a trained therapist can help you navigate your thoughts and move towards a healthier mindset. I see women daily with these struggles and assist them through the negative thoughts. During a therapy session, we work together to unpack your mental hurdles. The therapeutic alliance is essential when participating in therapy to allow you to feel safe and comfortable exploring your intrinsic emotions so that you can collaborate to address your specific concerns. The goals in therapy are individual to you and your journey of growth. I help to guide you to reach your goals and change your beliefs from not good enough to more than enough. If you want to have a chat to find out more, please book a FREE Consultation.
“You are good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, and strong enough. Believe it and never let insecurity and society's perception on how you should run your life change your attitude toward your own reflection and personality.”
- Kemmy Nola