Are you good enough — just as you are? The answer is definitely YES, but do you believe that? Mmm… perhaps on a good day? Why do we struggle so much to believe that that we are good enough just as we are? What drives us to see our imperfections so clearly and then fret and put ourselves down as we compare ourselves to others—people we perceive as being/doing better than we are? With conundrums like this, it often helps to play with the opposite view. So lets imagine your fears are indeed true: that you are not good enough—what then? Would you protest that you are at the very least—OK? I’m sure you would. I would too! So, does that mean in your eyes that you’re not quite good enough? That you must improve to be truly worthy?
The gift of your uniqueness
I began by saying you are good enough just as you are. And despite reservations that sometimes creep into my life, deep down I know that I am, and that you most definitely are. YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. Before your mind starts listing all the areas of your life where you think you are not, like; I’m not a good enough parent, not slim/beautiful/handsome enough, or clever enough, funny enough, rich enough or whatever area of your life you believe you are not yet ‘enough’, I wish to ask you to grasp hold of this idea: even with what you see as your imperfections—you are more than enough. In fact you are perfect in this moment in time, yes, perfect even with all of your imperfections. Perfectly imperfect! This doesn’t mean you can’t improve—there is always room for improvement. It also doesn’t mean that someone out there is doing it better, because maybe someone is. But you are a human being, not a robot and in this moment, your beautiful soul is perfect, because no one on this planet is exactly the same as you. Your soul, your life, your experiences, your genes—makes YOU unique. No one can ever know exactly what you see, feel or know. No one can ever exactly replicate what you are or do because you do it in your unique way: and that even applies to repetitive, mundane tasks that you have been taught. You do it your way, and your way is as unique as you are. Begin to celebrate your uniqueness. In doing so you can no-longer compare yourself to anyone else, even someone who may be very similar because you are not them – and they are not you.
A head-on look at the fear of not being good enough
I’m guessing you still have doubts about this, so let me take another approach. When you think that you are not good enough in one or more areas of your life, who is it judging you? It’s true that some unkind soul may have told you directly that you aren’t good enough (trust me, that’s usually their stuff coming to the fore) but even if there is an element of truth in this, such as agreed behaviours/performance which hasn’t been met, 9 times out of 10, the worst critic of not being good enough comes from you.
For a moment imagine what it would be like if instead of your internal harsh critical voice, there was a wonderful, friendly inner voice who both acknowledged your imperfections, and encouraged you to try again. That would be wonderful—wouldn’t it? To have someone by your side being gentle yet firm to help you reach your highest potential. So next time screw up (WE ALL DO!) and your inner dialogue is something along the lines of: ‘Look at you! You’re a failure! How could you have done that! No wonder you don’t get anywhere!’ consider what it would be like if your inner voice said something like: ‘Oh dear (or damn it or something to that ilk if needed!)—that didn’t go so well! Just breathe for a minute! Now look at it again: what did you learn? What can you do to put this mess right?’ In the first instance your energy will become increasingly negative and lack-lustre. If your inner voice is more like the second one, accepting responsibility looking for both the lessons and how to put things right, then you will have more positive energy and therefore can put things right more quickly.
This approach is a part of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), which was created in 1970s by Richard Brandler and John Grinder. As top-flight university students, Brandler and Grinder began researching what made successful people different from others (in part because they too wanted to become successful!). They studied a group of high achievers and looked for patterns, like background, education, opportunities, lucky breaks, where people were born etc. To cut a long story short, they found that none of these reasons consistently lead to success. Rather they discovered that ALL successful people ‘talked’ to themselves in encouraging, positive ways. Of course there is far, far more to NLP than this, but notice something very important. Who chooses how you talk to yourself? Who decides whether your inner voice will be critical or encouraging? Yes, it’s you!
However, understanding this intellectually and doing it, are two different things. So how do you change from a negative self-talk to positive? First choose to become aware of your self-talk. This sounds incredibly easy, but it’s actually more challenging than it appears because your inner voices come primarily from your subconscious. None-the-less choose to become aware. Next time you ‘catch yourself’, correct your language to a kinder tone. No, this isn’t a lesson in madness! It truly is the way you begin to change your opinion of yourself, and in doing so, you will change how you view your life and how you live it.
Begin to step into your full potential
Marianne Williamson wrote a beautiful poem, which was used in Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech: It begins:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
The fear of not being good enough is usually like a double edge sword. There is a part of you that believes that you’re not good enough and that allows you to stay comfortably in the background: then there is a part of you that believes you are more than good enough, but shining, standing out becoming a leader is so scary that it’s easier to stay where you are, despite wanting to leave the shadow land that you currently inhabit.
Let’s also look at shining. If you took on the belief that you are already good enough to shine or lead what is the worst thing that can happen to you? Take your time to think this through. Could you die? Probably not. Is there a fear of getting it so wrong that you would die of embarrassment? I guess that is a possibility, but that high state of embarrassment doesn’t need to last long (nor should it). It would be such a shame if this fear stops you from shining.
By the way, when I talk of shining or leading, this doesn’t necessarily mean being a known by the media. Shining stars are found in all walks of life. Shining is about standing tall, shoulders back and being authentically you putting your best foot forward. It doesn’t mean trying to be like someone else. There are plenty enough so called leaders who hide behind a mask of inauthenticity – this world doesn’t need any more of those! So, back to the question, what is the worst thing that could happen to you? Could you lose something? Yes—your old lack-of-self-confidence you!! But what else could you lose by being authentically you? Friends? If your fear is of losing friends because you step into shining, then they aren’t truly your friends in the first place. A true friend is pleased to see you shine and be your best self. Do you fear losing money? If shining means stepping up to a bigger job role or starting a new business, then, yes there is always a risk of losing money—but there is a possibility of financial prosperity too. It is such a shame when as Oscar Wilde so beautifully said: ‘Too many people die with their music still inside them.’ Don’t let your name be added to that list!
Stepping into your own self-confidence
Celebrating your own uniqueness, monitoring your self-talk and stepping into shining in your own world isn’t something that happens overnight. Instead see the process as a series of baby steps. Here are a few tips to help you:
- Next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone you admire (whether that’s in real life or in the media) celebrate that they are doing well—and remember your uniqueness. Their gift is not yours to own: your gift is not theirs either. Admire these people for sure, learn from them definitely, but don’t try to be them because there is no way that you can be them: you are you!
- Catch one of your persistent internal criticisms. Give it a name—for example, ‘No-one ever sees the work I do!’ might be called ‘my invisibility voice’ Now change this internal dialogue to something more positive. Perhaps your internal voice wants you to be seen! Next time this voice reappears, you can add, ‘There’s my invisibility voice again! How can I be seen?’
- Take an area of your life that deep down you know you are more than good enough; one you have the confidence to own. Now step up and shine in this area. Stand tall, shoulders back. Be you, doing the best you can do, and know this is your way at being/doing this. Feel good about yourself in this role. Remember, it’s not about being perfect, it about being you and doing the best you can do. Nothing more: nothing less.
P.S. I found this wonderful example…
Just after finishing this article, I stumbled across a beautiful example of shining that’s currently doing the rounds on Facebook. Is it a true story? I don’t know, but it a most beautiful example of how to shine:
A NYC Taxi driver wrote:
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.
She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice’.
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’The doctor says I don’t have very long.’
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.
We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’.
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.
Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ I said
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said, ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked away. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.