I am not enough. The very idea that there’s any woman out there that believes this is hard to read, but what if I told you 44% of women polled said they not only feel it, but feel it often or all the time? It’s true. We’re talking about areas like relationships, taking care of kids or aging parents, career, health, appearance, including weight and aging. But why is it that we feel not enough? And is there something we can actually do about it? Enter Melody Murray, a therapist in the Seattle area, who shares some key insight.
“I think there are a variety of reasons why we don’t feel that we are enough,” Melody says. “Just the anxiety of going from day to day, not feeling pretty enough or thin enough or tall enough or smart enough, successful enough, rich enough, not black enough, not white enough… That anxiety, the insecurities, there’s just so much going on that you have to be really careful that you don’t fall down the drain of what people are trying to sell you.”
But where did it come from? Melody says a lot of our not enoughness was actually programmed years ago. “That sense of security and confidence needs to be instilled in us very early on so it sticks, so it’s real. And how many of us had those households where people were pouring into us in healthy way? It has to be very intentional. And I think only now are people being that intentional as they have conversations with their children to build that.”
But while it may be simple, we all know it’s not easy. “It’s a battle, some self-talk has to happen all day, every day for it to penetrate,” Melody adds. “Instill that within yourself that I am enough. I’m fine. I’m okay. “
Melody’s got a brilliant — and slightly hilarious — tip for feeling more enough. “This is going to sound really silly, but it has worked for a lot of my women, especially women that are in the workforce. I always tell them to look around their office. Find the Kevin of the office. And they’ll say ‘Who’s Kevin’? I’m like Kevin’s guy that’s got his feet up. He doesn’t go above and beyond at all. Ever. He just breezes, in does his job, and breezes right on out. He’s not stressing over a damn thing. You gotta be Kevin because Kevin’s earning more than you probably. He’s earning a check and he’s not checking his phone or laptop at night or on the weekends. Look for Kevin and be the Kevin. Be Kevin. Because men don’t have these damn conversations. Are they enough?
5 Step Method for Feeling ENOUGH.
Maybe you don’t have a Kevin at your work, that’s okay! I have some of my own tips that have worked for myself at times I really needed it, and also for my clients. I challenge you to give this a try the next time you feel not enough. It works!
Identify the area or areas in which you feel like you’re not enough. If there are multiple, write them all down, but then we’re going to pick one at a time to go through the process.
Define what enough looks like in that area. What does it even mean? Get specific because if you’re thinking you’re not enough as a mom, what does it look like to be enough as a mom? What does it look like to be enough as a spouse? What does it look like to be enough in your job or a friendship? It really helps to define what it is that you think is enough so you can actually compare where you are and where you think you should be.
Picture someone you love; it could be your best friend, a sister, neighbor, maybe even a daughter. Would you hold her to the same impossible standards you expect of yourself? Seriously, be honest. Would you hold her to those same standards? Would you judge her so harshly? Or would you cut her some slack? What makes you so unique that you are expected to achieve some bogus level and be this person that you would never expect someone else to be? Why do you have to reach this impossible standard and other people don’t? I always talk about the power of plates and napkins.
When my kids were little and they’d be the class party, and there’d be the signup email that would come through, I would hop on that thing so quickly, depending on how crazy life was. So if I felt like, ‘oh, I got that,’ I might make cupcakes or something like that. But if I had so much going on and didn’t have the capacity to do something big, I would hop on so quickly and get the plates and the napkins. Because guess what? They’re having a party. They need the plates and napkins. They’re just as important as the snacks.
“There’s a lot that self-inflicted, but there’s a lot of it we do to each other,” Melody says. “So much judgment and criticism that we do to our fellow sister out there. That’s bullshit. Oh, is that all you did? Plates and napkins? Oh, okay. That’s how much you love your kid. I brought blah-blah-blah. I’m not giving you a standing ovation. If there was more, just acceptance of being a regular person without going above and beyond, because what you’re doing is you’re shaking your shit on somebody else. If we all did that more often, I mean it’s a ripple effect. Oh yeah, I forgot to do that. Oh, I forgot that, too. Okay. I don’t feel so bad.”
Determine who gets to decide your enoughness or not enoughness? Who do you look to when it comes to deciding your enoughness? Are you turning to people who are also hurting, angry… who have their own baggage? There’s a reason that there’s a phrase that says hurt people hurt people, right? When we put our own value in the comments of other people, how can we not feel like we’re not enough, especially when that person hasn’t even gone through their own healing journey? From whom are you looking for feedback in your life? Is it someone where you should really be taking that feedback? No matter where you’re turning, the first (and only) person you should be listening to is you.
Imagine for a moment that you are enough right now. Close your eyes and envision yourself no matter where you are in your life. No matter what’s going on, no matter the noise and the clutter that’s happening outside of you. Just be quiet with yourself and say to yourself, I am enough just as I am right now. I want you to sit in that, see how that feels. You can just imagine it. You can think it, you can say it out loud. I am a human being doing the very best I can. And that’s enough. I am enough. What does that feel like for you? How would your life look if you stopped and you reminded yourself every day just for five seconds, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, five minutes? I am a human being doing the very best I can. And that’s enough. I am enough.
We all have thoughts of not enoughness, but your thought is just that — it’s a thought, it doesn’t make it true. I can pretty much guarantee that there’s no one in the world judging you as harshly as you judge you. What if you were to give yourself a little break and start to show yourself more compassion and understanding? Because you are enough. You don’t have to accomplish anything or achieve anything to be enough. You just are.