I do not deserve to walk around this world tied up in knots because I’m afraid I’m not good enough. What the hell does that mean anyway, ‘good enough’? What mad standards am I trying to meet? Who gets to say if I’m ok or not?
I really am struggling with the Not-Good-Enough beast recently. And am I even allowed to say that out loud as a therapist? Am I not supposed to uphold some unrealistic god-like standard of perfection that everyone else bloodies their hands and knees against as they try and fail to climb up to meet it? If I say, “Hey guys, I’m human, I also walk around with common human wounds” will that drop me into the category of Not-Good-Enough-Therapist?
I know not. Well for some people who can’t bear to see the golden standard of idealised perfection crash into the sea it will be unbearable. And they will hate me for how unsafe my admission makes them feel. They might disparage me for my ‘weakness’. I hope they can come talk to me about it. But for all those desperate iconoclasts out there (‘iconoclast’ means someone who breaks idols – isn’t it a GREAT word?), it should be a great, huge relief that NO-ONE is perfect. The question is, “What will we do with that information?”
I’m really fed up with feeling like I’m not good enough, like I’m not of approvable quality. It’s causing havoc in my inner world lately. It’s an irrational, unconsciously driven fear that somehow at some point I will be exposed as having something wrong with me and it will be so shameful. It’s a crock! I really, really know that. And yet…
I listen closely when I tell other people why it’s not true for them. Those beautiful souls who are courageous enough to come and show another person their inner truths. They have to face the possibility that I might jump up and gleefully point out, “AHA! You SEE? There! That’s where you are messed up. That’s what’s wrong with you.”
My truth is that in that process of uncovering themselves to me, they are uncovering their glorious light to themselves. As we move deeper into relationship it becomes more and more obvious, no matter how initially troublesome and dreadful the symptoms and behaviours they came in with, that in the center of who they are, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM. With any of them. They are courageous, beautiful humans who are on their path. Some paths are arid and rocky and others have to be hacked with a machete to get through, but getting through they are. And to me that makes them glorious. I can see NOTHING wrong with them. Sure, stuff to do differently, wounds to heal, reactions to make conscious, LOTS of growing to do – but something wrong with them? No.
And this is a huge surprise to most of them. And I totally understand. Why? BECAUSE I’M BLOODY WALKING AROUND WITH THE SAME THING MYSELF. Because I’m human. Because my society keeps telling me I’m supposed to be a certain way – as a woman, as a mother, as a wife, as a psychologist, as a spiritual person – but that I will always fall short of it. So where does that leave me? Feeling not good enough!
It’s mind-boggling how we can buy into something even when it makes no sense at all.
Yesterday I had one of those parenting mornings that’s partially a total disaster and partially one of the great miracles of parenting. Because with parenting you are never left peacefully knowing it’s one way or the other right? So my sensitive, diligent and fastidious child was really misbehaving. He had lost his center (hmmm… now who in the last couple of days lost her center because of reacting to feeling ‘not good enough’… let’s think). The glory of the morning is that I quickly saw myself in his behaviour, held compassion for us both and used all I had to BE present for him and affirm him – knowing that in doing so I was affirming and healing my panicking inner child too. Lovely, beautiful, proud moments… all in all some delicious bonding went down.
The painful part was that as we lay together quietly, post-tearful storm (which I’d been sorely tempted to join in with), I asked him how he feels and softly he said, “Sad”. I asked why and he shrugged. So, fearing the answer but knowing it already I asked, “Are there times I make you feel not good enough?” and he nodded yes. Waaaaah! So I told him it wasn’t true. I told him how truly amazing he is in my eyes. I tried to not to babble in my desperate panic to try to undo the damage my own wounding has caused. I did ok with not babbling. Then I asked if any of what I’d just said helped and he said, “No.”
This Not-Good-Enough thing is a big fat liar and it hurts people.
I’m gonna KICK IT’S BUTT!
Wanna join me?
I love this post Eilat! It reminds me of the counterpart of this “big fat liar” tale with which Brandon Bays starts her book the Journey saying “I once heard a story that each of us comes into this life as a pristine, pure, flawless diamond”. I think we’d be hard pressed to find someone who has not bought into the ‘not good enough package’. And I’m wondering at the power of this post, and the energy that animates it, to loosen the grasp of such a “big fat liar” on all of us. How spot on this post feels in this time of truth telling. Now you’ve got this song playing in me…! Big fat liiiaar, gonnna kick yr buuuttt…
That song sounds like a hit to me! Thanks so much for this comment Eva. It’s rich, rich, rich! Here’s to the pristine diamond in each of us.
I love this! I’m so in to kick not-good-enoughs booty!
i loved it and i love LL.
Thank you right back for reading and for that wonderful comment!
The reason that humans feel they aren’t good enough, is that we aren’t good by God’s standards, which are the standards that count and that we know deep down. Not good enough to put purpose in our own lives, that is. But certainly good enough to be thoroughly and deeply loved by God who wants to give us purpose and make us good- really good, not just “good enough” by a human’s standard of what is OK or attractive.
Thanks for your comment Trudie.
I heard this comment once, “Perfect is just an opinion”. I really like it because even our versions of the perfection of God differ between people. I’m so glad you added the bit about being “thoroughly and deeply loved by God”. I think our task is to learn to love ourselves that way – see and constantly engage with our own Divine essence – even while we are flawed and human. To always feel God reflected in yourself. What do you think? Are we saying the same thing?
Yikes. Nerve struck. Completely failed to help my daughter this morning when she was so broken down. I broke down too and she was left feeling useless and worthless – because that’s how I felt. I knew she needed my compassion but I was too stuck in feeling “not good enough” to help her. Her self esteem is so small and fragile…just like her mum. She feels so lost and unsure of how to fix it…just like her mum.
It’s so uncomfortable to see myself reflected in the pain of my children. I wish I knew how to “fix if”, even whilst I know that the desire to “fix it” (as if there is something faulty) is probably what causes those feelings in the first place.
Oh Laura, thank you for your honesty. There are so many of us who know just how you felt this morning.
What I am slowly learning more and more deeply is to embrace the discomfort. Lean right into it when it comes. “Oh look, I feel inadequate right now. Part of me knows it’s not true but it FEELS so true right now. Let me lean into it, open my arms, open my chest and just let it BE.”
I think opening into the discomfort is powerful because it is an action that directly opposes the feeling that something needs to be done about what’s ‘wrong’ with us. Leaning into it means it’s alright to just be who I am, where I am in that moment.
It is telling myself, “I’m doing my best and I am open to learning more.” It’s an act of self-love.