We’ve all heard this statement before, “I’m not enough because….” These words seem innocuous when we first look at them. We may use them to foster a sense of accountability to ourselves, or use them to foster the gumption to complete a goal of some kind. Because, who wants to be lacking in anything right? If we focus on improving our wardrobe, then we’ll be good enough to keep company with certain people. If we put in some extra time at the gym, we’ll be fit enough and maybe attract that perfect person. If I eat the right things, then I’ll be enough. Several months or years later, we are still whispering that statement of “I’m not enough” and we have ultimately run out of strength to continue going because we don’t see progress. This, of course, can lead to anxiety and depression taking over thus making the cycle even worse.
The problem with saying “I’m not enough” in one area of our lives is that it never is just limited to that one part. It spreads to every nook and cranny and fuels us to keep fighting an uphill battle that we may not be meant to fight at all. “I’m not enough” statements can send us on a trajectory towards unhealthy habits in terms of how we treat ourselves and even the people around us. In order to develop a healthy sense of identity, we must take the phrase “I’m not enough” and turn it into “I’m enough.” How do we accomplish this? Below are some tips to foster “I’m enough” moments in your life.
- Recognize your uniqueness and accept it. A common problem that we as mental health professionals see nowadays is this general lack of acceptance when it comes to personal character or traits. Many people don’t like who they are, or are taught to not show appreciation for certain traits. The danger of this tendency is that we don’t ever foster value in ourselves and see that we have a part to play in the world around us. Recognizing that we each have a role to play and actually working with that role will help us develop an appreciation of ourselves. Great questions to ask yourself are, “What are my strengths? What do I bring that people can’t live without? What have been some of my accomplishments?”
- Don’t just focus on your faults. Do we have faults? Absolutely! We all have things about ourselves that we don’t like and that other people don’t like. The problem that we run into is this hypersensitivity to our faults or flaws. We try to eliminate them from the equation of our existence, and very unsuccessfully. Our faults do not have to define us. Rather they can be used as our greatest asset if we look at how having this fault might add to our character. In fact, there might be a moment where our faults can actually be used to help someone else who is struggling with the same thing. Accepting our faults as being a part of us, and learning to use them to our advantage, or add to our character is an essential component to creating the mindset of “I’m enough.”
- Avoid comparison traps. We all do this at some point. We have looked at a friend or family member and have run the comparison script through our minds because it looks like they have something that we don’t. Of course they have something that we don’t. That’s because they are not us! We are not meant to be walking the same road as our family members or friends throughout the course of life. We are meant to be walking the road that we are on. Accepting that our journey is not the same as everyone else’s and seeing that it’s not meant to be can be a very freeing experience for each and every one of us.
- Gratitude is required. In order to see ourselves as enough, we must be grateful for who we are and what we have. People who are insecure in themselves tend to always want more from each segment of life. This only fosters an attitude of dissatisfaction and a life of complete unrest. Being grateful for our lives just as they are allows space for us to look for the changes that need to be made rather than just ones that we would like to make.
As I mentioned before, it can be very easy to develop a mindset that tends to say, “I’m not enough.” In order to help protect our own mental health, we need to first exercise the idea of accepting ourselves as we are. Without meeting this need of acceptance in ourselves, we will not be able to live a balanced life as what is necessary in order to sustain our overall health.