Not Being Enough Is A Systemic Issue. Our society is built on the search for and provision of external validation. Our major sources of self-worth come from other people. Doing it for the gram is just the latest manifestation of this issue. What is the craziest thing you did for Instagram? Did it make you feel like you were enough at the moment? How long did that feeling last? The majority of the things we do, the actions we take, the lives we live, the choices we make, are to gain attention, admiration, and praise from others. This makes us feel like we are doing it right. This makes us feel like we are part of the whole, accepted into the group, enough for now.
I see and have lived the struggles and heartaches that stem from trying to earn and buy my way into acceptance. I have spent years of my life being a highly productive earner and a good consumer with very little sustainable self-worth to show for it. I see and have lived the struggle and heartache of doing this in a system that is ultimately designed for you to never actually reach that acceptance, or at least not for long. It is designed to push the message that you will need to have, purchase, or be the next big thing to be enough. We are allowed to be enough, but just for now and just until the next thing comes up.
What do we mean when we say that we feel like we are not enough? Have you ever really sat with that feeling and tried to dissect it? What is it made of? What exactly are you not enough of? What people, faces, events, actions come to mind when this swirling tornado of misery touches down in your mind?
I will tell you some of my things and maybe it will help you recognize your own. When I feel like I am not enough, it is usually as a result of a negative interaction or a poor performance I have had. I didn’t get the grade I wanted, I am not smart ENOUGH. I didn’t get the present or praise I wanted, I am not Loved ENOUGH (or not lovable).
I didn’t have the experience I wanted, I must not be doing this right… I must not be pretty enough, skinny enough, strong enough, flexible enough, strategic enough, fast enough, calm enough, loud enough, soft enough, reserved enough, and it goes on and on.
To get to this root, make sure to finish your sentence. I am not (fill in the blank) enough, for (fill in the blank with a person or thing). Who are you not enough for? It’s surely not for yourself.
When I don’t feel like I am enough, it is ALWAYS about someone else.
In fact, the only time I have felt abundantly enough has been in times of solitude. I remember the first time I lived completely alone. On days that I had no work and no one to answer to, I would sit in my house on my couch in my underwear eating whatever I wanted reading or watching Netflix and feeling utterly, blissfully enough. The feeling of being enough for me was overwhelmingly beautiful. It isn’t that you are not enough, it is that you are not enough for the people around you.
The truth is, you are not enough for them.
You are not enough for them by design, and you will never be enough for them because their measure of enough is based on a lie that product consumerism taught them.
It is based on a lie that shifts and gets more and more unrealistic as we chase it. If only I could be a little more of this thing, then I would feel like I was enough, right? Ask anyone brave enough to look at this impossible standard in the eye and strive for it. The closer we get to it, the more empty we feel. The closer we get to this, the less like ourselves we feel. Being more to this system has hardly ever translated into long term feelings of being enough.
When we feel like we are not enough, it is because we are measuring ourselves by the standard of enough for someone else.
If we only measured our ability to be enough for ourselves, we would be enough right from the start with nothing to change.
I know you feel me on this. I hope you can meet me here on this truth. Secretly, you are enough for you. That is your dirty secret. You are MORE than enough in your own mind. If you strip the judgment and expectation of others away, you get to be perfectly you by design. I hope that you have had at least one experience in your life where you have been able to tune everyone else’s bullshit out and then been able to tap into that feeling of “damn, I am fucking awesome.” Sure we may not act awesome to other people all of the time because that shit is fake and exhausting, but fuck those people who demand that of us. Just because I don’t act awesome to you does not mean that I am not awesome.
Only I know the depth of my own awesomeness and I am not obligated to share that with anyone, and neither are you.
The bottom line is you are not going to be enough for some people. If you continue to measure your worth by the standards of other people, you will continue to feel like you are not enough. This is codependency and it does not feel good. You do have a choice to make here. The other choice is to start measuring your worth and your value with an internal compass. This is tricky because if you are like many people, you are chemically addicted to external validation. Your brain actually makes happy chemicals every time you get a like on Facebook or a heart on Instagram. You have a chemical dependency on external validation, very similar to a chemical dependency on an antidepressant or a drug. It will take months and years for some of us to break out of this codependent and addicted reality. It will take doing hard things like speaking kindly to yourself, recognizing your value outside of productivity, understanding that your worth is not tied to the world’s perception of you, and showing up to validate yourself DAILY.
Disclaimer, when you start to do this you will feel better. You will feel like you are enough. Some weird side effects come from this.
You will be less valuable to the people who only see you as a potential consumer. You will lose friends that can no longer profit off of you. You will be harder to control. You will spend less money on bullshit things. You will spend way more time in solitude where peace begins.
Your life will change. It may change drastically. You may lose love relationships, but if you do it long enough, you will gain real, authentic, secure relationships instead. When you can show up for yourself like this, you will attract people who value and respect this. Those are the people that will support your internal source of truth. It will happen, but it takes time.
These are hard things to do, and again, congratulations on doing the work and showing up for yourself. We get better at these skills by practicing in a safe container. If you are in need of a safe container to practice relational skills, consider my 1:1 Coaching Package to get started on being more authentic and creating safety in your intimate relationships.