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“A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind.” ~ Robert Oxton Bolton
We’ve often heard that we create our own reality, and I grappled with this for the longest time because it made me think that I am responsible for all the bad things that happen to me.
It’s only when I studied, experienced, witnessed more in life that I realized that it is true but not in a blaming or victimizing ourself way.
The fact is that we as human beings are always dealing with two kinds of circumstances—external and internal. While most of the external circumstances are not in our control, the internal ones are.
Our internal circumstances comprise of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and whichever combination of all three we repeat or is reinforced gets strengthened and forms a belief.
A belief represents our reality.
It is what we hold to be as true for ourselves, people, and the world and everything in it.
And our world is run by what we believe to be true for ourselves.
Beliefs aren’t formed in a day. They develop gradually, over time as our mind continues to make sense of the world around us. While we all are born with the fundamental need to be loved, respected, accepted, appreciated, and valued for who we are, when these needs are not met or when we receive information that is contrary to our need (especially when we’re growing up), our mind will automatically want to fill the gaps.
“Believing takes practice.” ~ Madeliene L’Engle
For most individuals who have had unfulfilled emotional lives or have lived with some gaps, the easiest belief that our naïve mind tends to latch onto is: “I’m not good enough.”
Sometimes we’re told directly or indirectly that we must fulfill certain criteria to be able to receive that love, adulation, and adoration, and at other times, our mind tends to create that meaning based on its own experience. And then the majority of life goes in this endless pursuit of proving to ourselves, others, and the world that we are worth something!
We keep doing more and more just so that our need and want to feel good about ourselves can be fulfilled.
We’re so busy in trying to do more so that we can fit into some pre-decided mold that we end up forgetting that we actually are enough and that our job is not to do more but to do enough. Enough that makes us feel happy, joyful, excited, free, loved, and appreciated.
It’s only when we believe we are enough that we can give our mind the playground to expand and do more.
Too often, we are preoccupied with doing more so that we can create some space for ourselves, prove our worth, get the love and respect we desire, and in the process, we keep losing sight of who we already are and what we are creating in every given moment.
We underplay our achievements, belittle ourselves, use mistakes as a validation of what we lack, and keep feeling that we’re less.
Here are some ways in which the belief that ‘”I’m not good enough” or that “I need to do something to be able to prove my worth” keeps showing up and keeps us stuck in this cycle where we do more and more but end up feeling less and less about our own self.
Eight ways this shows up in our lives:
1. Constant comparison with others
We keep looking at others and their lives and think of all possible ways in which they are better than us. We compare each and every aspect of our personality and life, analyze it as microscopically as possible to see where we are going wrong or what are we not doing enough of that can make us be like them. Thus, we end up overlooking, negating, and undermining our own efforts, actions, and achievements.
A lot of us think that comparison is a motivator and that it keeps us going. Using comparison as a driving force is like running with your bum on fire. How far will that take us? Eventually, it will burn us. At the end of every comparison spree, we are left feeling disappointed and worthless about ourselves.
2. Feeling jealous of others
Feelings of jealousy can often creep up and once again make us feel like we’re not doing enough, we don’t have enough, and so on. Jealousy only increases our own anger, frustration, feelings of helplessness toward ourselves and blocks us from seeing possibilities. We can stand by our window and keep feeling jealous of our neighbor’s house and it wouldn’t change anything in ours…would it? Or we could simply begin with what we have and find things worth appreciating in our own space. One feels frustrating and restrictive and the other calming and expansive.
3. Focusing on results
When we are conditioned to believe that “if we achieve something, only then will we be good enough or worthy,” we end up telling ourselves the same thing over and over again—thus, living a results-driven life where we’re constantly grappling with comparison, jealousy, self-criticism, and where we’re pushing ourselves too much just so that we can achieve that one thing that will make us feel that we’re good enough.
But it never stops at just one thing. It just goes on and on. There will never be that one perfect thing that will make us feel good enough. There never was. In a bid to achieve to prove, we remove ourselves from the process and the journey. We forget to live and only exist with anxiety and fear.
4. Pushing ourselves to do more
We’re always trying to do more for others, be more of something or the other. And we only get exhausted and burnt out in the end.
“No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” ~ Brené Brown
We constantly feel the need to explain and justify ourselves just so that no one misunderstands us because if someone doesn’t understand why we did something or what we did, it would simply mean that we didn’t do something right.
6. Seeking validation
While we believe that we’re not good enough, we also have an inherent need to feel good enough and worthy. However, we’re constantly looking for someone or the other to fulfill that need, and the lack or absence of that validation automatically means that we’re not good enough.
7. Finding faults in ourselves
Simply because nothing about us is good enough and others are so much better…aren’t they?
8. Feeling clueless about our life goals
When we’re too busy believing we’re not good enough or are in a quest to prove our worth to the world, we lose sight of our own life vision and goals. We’re too preoccupied focusing outside of ourselves and our internal world is left unattended.
We are fundamentally enough. All we need to do is believe and to be able to believe, we need to keep repeating to ourselves that “I am enough”—because we are, and we need to slowly start aligning our actions to being enough.
We then need to:
Accept ourselves for who we are without judgement, criticism, and comparison and understand that we are unique. Our job is not to become somebody’s clone but to be our authentic self.
Focus on our strengths. We will always have skills to hone, lessons to learn, and areas to improve, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t enough right now.
Celebrate every small win.
Say no to things, people, and experiences that drain us out.
Remind ourselves that we’re on a journey and not on a mission to prove anything to anyone.
We are enough.
“And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, ‘I’m enough,’ then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.” ~ Brené Brown