Have you ever felt like you were not hired because you were not enough, only to find out the person that was hired had the same or less qualifications? Or perhaps you were shot down when you asked someone out or your relationship broke-up and you worried that it was because you were simply not enough? Not attractive enough, smart enough, rich enough–the list goes on–yet there’s someone out there that thinks they are not enough for you. When things don’t go our way, we often fear we are not enough.
Fear is an insidious inhibitor that causes great psychological pain and limits our potential. Our fears can immobilize us, fool us and frighten us into accepting a life less than we are capable of living. Fear of rejection immobilizes us from taking action. Fear of abandonment wreaks havoc on our relationships. Fear of failure fouls our efforts to succeed. Underlying these common fears is the same notion that in some way, the reason for our fears and failures seem to point to one simple truth: “I am not enough”.
Before you despair, know this: “I am not enough” is one of the biggest lies you will ever tell yourself. As you are today, right now, you are enough. You may have miles to go, but you are enough. No journey starts at the destination. Once we realize that to achieve a goal or to be accepted and belong, we need only be our best self possible at any given time. We may have much to learn, experience, change or attain, but right now, we are enough. We can all learn more, change our perspective or apply ourselves to reach our goals. The key is to take action, and keep taking action.
When we believe we are not enough, we stop making an effort to pursue and achieve. We assume our own failure. We jump to conclusions based upon our fears. “There’s no point in [dating, getting a degree, pursuing a career, or any new pursuit that creates uncertainty and anxiety], because I will be embarrassed or rejected or fail.” Sometimes we do not look at our fears so plainly, and instead we use other excuses like, “I’m too busy,” or “I don’t have enough [time, money, attractiveness, experience, etc].” Yet the slippery slope of fear begins with the thought that we are in some way not enough.
So where does our misguided fear that we are not enough come from? As children we are often criticized, belittled or shamed for being outside of a predefined norm. This can happen with parents, siblings, teachers, or other children. Instead of approaching an individual as someone with a unique set of knowledge and experience, with their own way of looking at the world and expressing themselves, we instead make snap judgements or become critical based upon a set of expectations that we may not even give much though to, yet take for granted. This is evidenced by the pervasive notions that we need to fit into a norm: “You’re not “cool” unless you look like this, or do this, or know this, or say this,” or “Why aren’t you an “A” student like your brother?” Yet one groups’ norm of “cool” is quite different than another. But, none-the-less, we learn at an early age that if we want to get along and “fit in” some degree of conformity is expected. When we are different than the norm we are often ridiculed or ostracized.
We live in a society of critical analysis, evaluation and judgment. Our society continually redefines its ideals and markets towards those ideals. We are constantly bombarded with messages and ads that play on our fears and seek to help us conform or aspire to conform to a pre-prescribed “higher standard”. Our media often produces content that reinforces we are not enough and we “need” something else or more to become acceptable. Marketers are all too aware we all are susceptible to our fears and our desires to belong and succeed. Accept their messages for what they are: a attempt to sell goods and services (that may or may not be helpful to us) by playing on our fears and aspirations. Never define yourself based upon a false or managed media image. Being authentic and developing your true character and embracing all that makes you you is far more compelling than chasing any media-promoted image. You are one single unique creation out of nearly seven billion people. You are you for a reason. And you are enough.
Given our evolutionary success as a tribal species (working together to help each other survive and thrive) humans do tend to feel comfort and derive assurance from some degree of conformity. But it is our unique qualities that we truly enjoy the most. When we think of someone we admire, it is not their ability to conform or be like others that we admire, it is their confidence in their differences that we truly appreciate. It is their belief in themselves and in others, and their willingness to never give up that we admire and desire to emulate. Our admired heros believe in their ability to get answers to their questions, to learn what they require to succeed, to apply themselves and take chances.
We have exactly the skills, traits, personality, features and intelligence to be our best self at all times in our lives. We need only to realize this and fully apply ourselves. You were born you for a reason. Start where you are right now. Decide what is important to you; your values, your goals your dreams. Accept that fear is only a lens that distorts your vision and ability to take action now. When you pursue a goal, give it all you have. You will learn and grow and adjust and achieve more than you ever dreamed possible. Keep taking action. Don’t wait for things to happen, make things happen! Start now. When you do, you will learn with great relief and satisfaction, you are enough!
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