I have spoken to numerous people in the past couple of weeks while we have been in lockdown; parents attempting to home-school their children, some trying to adapt and run a business in a new way, some coping with stress and anxiety that our current situation has triggered – and virtually all of them thinking they are not good enough to do anything different or better. This is not something that is exclusive to these challenging times despite the prevalence right now, it is something I discuss with my patients, my students, peers, family and friends often. I thought I’d write about that on my blog and offer some simple and easily applicable ways to start feeling good enough.
“The worst thing about that kind of prejudice… is that while you feel hurt and angry and all the rest of it, it feeds you self-doubt. You start thinking, perhaps I am not good enough.” – Nina Simone
There are some situations where you might feel insufficient, like you’re not doing or being good enough. Uncertain times and being locked indoors might intensify this feeling of anxiety and self-doubt. You might hear motivational speakers telling you to go out of your comfort zone and make the magic happen – but it’s rare that they say anything about having to face an internal conflict of not being good enough.
You may be worried that you have only survived so far because you were lucky enough, worried that in the future, you might discover you aren’t really good at anything at all.
If you relate to this, you may also be experiencing “The Imposter Syndrome”. When a person experiences insufficiency in themselves regardless of every good thing they have accomplished – whether it be academic, personal or occupational – that person is said to be suffering from the imposter syndrome.
Research conducted at Georgia State University in the late ’70s selected a group of female high-achievers who felt like “intellectual phonies” despite their “outstanding academic and professional accomplishments (Clance&Imes, 1978).
So, what is the Imposter Syndrome?
Like almost everything this phenomenon has a name: it’s called the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and is described as follows: ‘Form of intellectual self-doubt that is accompanied by anxiety and often by depression as well’.
People who suffer from this ‘syndrome’ feel like frauds. Deep down they are convinced that they are not as good as other people think they are. Instead of being proud of what they achieved they focus more on what they haven’t achieved yet.
Besides having in common that they feel like a fraud they also tend to be moodier, less confident and suffer from performance anxiety.
Where does this come from?
It seems that the people who suffer from the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ sometimes come from families or have backgrounds where achievement is highly valued. For them achievement determines their sense of self-worth. Another reason is that you might feel different then your peers. A third reason could be ‘perfectionism’.
So what do you do when you feel you’re not good enough?
“Start from here, now is all you have, there will never be a better place or time and by tomorrow you would have lost more time.” ― MaltiBhojwani
If you’re ready to squeeze negative self-talk, you need to figure out the root cause of those‘fraudulent’ thoughts. Sometimes they stem from low self-esteem, a lack of confidence, or a bad experience you had, but many need to find the source before you can fix the problem.
One of the best ways to do this is a simple exercise that involves asking yourself “what are the reasons” several times.
For example, let’s say you’re always hesitant to ask someone out. You ask yourself, “what are the reasons I doubt myself when trying to ask him/her out?” You might answer, “Because I don’t know if what I’m smart enough.”
That answer then becomes the basis of the next question: “what are the reasons I think that I’m not smart enough?” Maybe because you’re not confident in your abilities and think that your crush is smarter and have more impressive credentials. I’d also consider asking yourself what the factual; evidence is to support that statement.
Then, you ask, “what are the reasons I think he/she is smarter and has more impressive credentials?” Your answer could be, “Because I feel like he/she is smarter than me.” You may feel that way, but it may not be the truth and why let it detrimentally effect you anyway?
Then slowly you might realise you’re comparing yourself to another person, but that’s all based on illogical assumptions. Keep asking yourself what the reasons are until you find a source. Then seek evidence for that. Once you’re clear on where the self-doubt is coming from, figure out why it’s illogical.
You can do this by writing down this sentence: “My self-doubt is illogical because…” and then listing out reasons why. You should be able to find several reasons. Using the above example, you might find your self-doubt is unfounded because you are smart and good enough. Pull it apart with objective logic.
Here is a great article to look deeper in that topic by the way – 6 Ways to Overcome Self-doubt.
WHO are you not feeling good enough for? Identify this. Friends? Family? A partner? Yourself? If it is yourself, acknowledge you can change anything about you that you are unsatisfied with, including the very thoughts you are thinking in this regard. If it’s anyone else-what type of approval are you looking for? What will it fulfil? What purpose does that (or will that) approval serve? Write these points down. Identify them. Keep breaking them down into smaller and smaller segments.
The surprising thing is if you talk to your partner, friends, family, etc. You are more than likely “good enough” for them. It is usually a feeling deep within youthat made you feel inadequate at some point in time. The inadequacy comes from you. No one else. Because even if it is someone else –you can take responsibility for loving yourself. When you radiate confidence with Who You Are, it overpowers everything, and soon you stop caring what other people think in a way that is for your benefit.
Here are a couple of great articles to look deeper in that topic too:
Manage your thoughts
“When you feel insecure or like you don’t measure up -remind yourself of how far you’ve come. And in the moment you’ll realize you’ve climbed mountains and can overcome anything.” ― Brittany Burgunder
Now that you know where your self-doubt is coming from and why it doesn’t make sense (or is illogical), your next step is to design a plan so you can continuously work at preventing it.
What will you do if you feel the self-doubt creep up again? Is there a phrase or sentence that can help you remember why the self-doubt is illogical? Do you need to start a mindset or journaling practice to help you work through your feelings?
Set aside time each week to reflect on your accomplishments and positive feedback you’ve received. This simple practice will help you see that you are smart, capable of choosing (and succeeding in) your chosen career path, and a valuable addition to any team (for example). It’ll help you recognise that you are good enough to parent and others struggle just as you do at times.You might even start to see that no one else is doubting you!
Research has shown that self-doubt can have negative effects on a variety of measures, from performance to general affect and self-esteem (Hermann &Leonardelli, 2002). However, self-doubt can be good–if it drives you to be better or learn something new. But if you find you’re listening to the voices in your head too much, it’s time to confront your self-doubt and banish the negativity for good.
Create a wins list
“Perfectionism is searching for faults to justify low self-esteem. It is a guaranteed failure and fantasy.” ― Brittany Burgunder
Self-doubt clouds your ability to see yourself as a successful, smart person. It kills your confidence. When self-doubt gets in the way, every single awesome thing you’ve accomplished in your life retreats to the back of your mind. All you can think about that you aren’t good enough.
Don’t let this happen to you. Fight back by keeping your achievements front and centre. You can do this by creating a list of successes – let’s call it your Wins List. You can start right now. Think of at least 4 or 5 goals you’ve achieved.
This is the start of your Wins List. Now, here’s the next step…
Capture this list in a physical journal, a digital notebook or in a Google Drive doc and remember to add to it every time you hit a goal or achieve something you set out to do – big or small. Never stop adding to the list. Think of your Wins List as a “living” list of achievements that never ends.
Commit to reading your Wins List every time you feel self-doubt creep into your thoughts. When you do this, you’ll realise just how much you’ve accomplished in your life. And self-doubt will begin to dissipate as authentic confidence takes its place.
Forget everyone else
“We all have moments when we think nobody sees us. When we feel like we have to act out or be somebody else to get noticed. But somebody notices, Topher. Somebody sees. Somebody out there probably thinks you’re the greatest thing in the whole world. Don’t ever think you’re not good enough.” ― John David Anderson
No matter what you do, there will be people who won’t agree with your decisions. This is unavoidable. It’s a fact of life. That’s why aiming to please everyone when you have to make a decision is an exercise in futility. It’s also a massive contributor to negative self-talk.
If you’re always anxious about other people’s opinions of what you say and do, you’ll sink into deeper and deeper levels of insecurity.
So, this is what you need to do instead…
The next time you have to make a decision, consciously set aside your thoughts about what other people will think or say. Resist asking for input from anyone else. Then go to a quiet place. Allow time for rational contemplation and intuitive reflection. Then make your decision – on your own. Of course we want to seek advice and counsel from others when necessary, but it involves you and your sense of worthiness, trust yourself and reflect accordingly.
Do this consistently, and you’ll get rid of that nagging inner voice that says you don’t know what you’re doing or that you’re not good enough. Your sense of powerlessness and lack of control will disappear. You’ll be decisive, confident and certain about what you want and need. And you’ll achieve what you set out to do.
“And above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning.” – Isaac Asimov
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Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar. Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book.Sharing is caring!