Will I ever feel good enough?
How many years of your life have you wasted feeling that you are not good enough?
Not good enough for a guy
Not good enough for that promotion
Not good enough as a mother
When working with clients, I repeatedly hear, I’m not good enough, smart enough, wealthy enough, fast enough, but enough of enough.
It gets me all fired up!
Why do we believe we’re not good enough?
The root cause of feeling “not good enough” is shame. It lies in the accompanying beliefs that a person is unworthy and basically unlovable. Shame is a fear-based primary emotion that conjures up intense feelings of emotional pain with a sense of inadequacy.
It is through shameful experiences that we form the beliefs of “I am a failure” and “I am bad”, which are threats to the integrity of the self. When we carry shame we also carry fears of being found out that we are vulnerable, and pull back from company for fear of being found out, exposed and further humiliated. But where does it come from?
Shame is a result of early developmental loss for closeness with the mother and father.
Let me share part of a client’s session to demonstrate.
When Samantha (not her real name) wrote not feeling good enough, procrastination and fear of success on her client intake sheet, I knew that she was struggling with shame.
Samantha was in her early thirties and wanted to leave the corporate world to start a business. Yet, she struggled to make any decisions about her career or life. She had difficulty deciding whether she’d work with me, and for awhile, our emails went back and forth in her indecision.
After our first session, I was able to get a sense of her difficult childhood, which was filled with harsh, loveless experiences. A deeply critical, controlling mother was at the root of her embedded shame. Criticism, cruel teasing and ridicule further reinforced her feelings of unworthiness.
Harsh parental discipline of a coercive nature created fears of abandonment in Samantha. Her default position was to let her boyfriend make decisions for her and she would attempt to protect herself from further pain by collapsing in anxiety. She couldn’t tap into her own power and find her voice.
Samantha’s shame was deeply embedded because of her experiences of rejection and the withdrawal of love from her mother. She internalised the belief that she was unlovable, allowing it to develop and build, causing Samantha to pull back into silent withdrawal. This is why she couldn’t make decisions: making slight mistakes sent her into a head spin of inadequacy.
Samantha’s negative messages had already become a part of her whole being. This negativity is supported by her two needs: the need to be loved and the need to be capable. To help Samantha remove her shame binds, our face-to-face session involved reconnecting with the original feeling of shame. This helped Samantha accept her imperfections and gain mastery over them.
We did some empty chair work where I got Samantha to sit in a chair and close her eyes. I invited her to locate where shame was held in her body. Samantha was able to describe the feelings of hurt, sadness and anger she held towards her mum.
We tracked back to some painful memories and explored the reason for her mother’s cruelty: her mental illness and the overwhelming feelings she would have experienced as a single mum. Then we talked about feelings of unworthiness and how these messages stuck in her psyche. I asked her to bring forth a kind and loving mum, a part of herself, and gave her compassionate responses to her statements (i.e. refute negative beliefs, like “I am bad” or “I am unlovable”).
Samantha was then encouraged to assign herself new statements and to imagine a future version of herself with more positive beliefs, one who would act differently in both comfortable and uncomfortable situations, and one who would finally feel good enough.
Shame affects us all differently. It can permeate through relationships, career aspirations and affect how we feel about ourselves.
If you are feeling taken for granted, unhappy or dissatisfied with life, could it be that your boundaries are being violated and need firming up?
Here are a few tips to get you out of shame binds and onto feeling like you are enough:
- Change your beliefs about yourself.
- What physical, emotional and intellectual boundaries need fine-tuning?
- Be assertive and not aggressive when expressing your feelings to others.
- Be kind to and patient with yourself.
- Seek support from trusted friends or professionals if struggling.
To move towards feeling good enough starts with attending to the part of yourself that is yearning for connection, love and support.
Ask yourself, “How can I get this need met?”
Each day work on explore your feelings, maintaining clear boundaries, and change your state (listen to music, walk, sing or dance) when you start to spiral into negative mindsets.
These are the essential first steps to valuing yourself more highly, which will ultimately have you feeling good enough about yourself.
Fiona Craig is an NLP practitioner & life coach, psychotherapist, business mentor, and published author of the award winning self-help book, “Stuck in a Rut – How to rescue yourself & live your truth” helping women remove the fear, worry and guilt to confidently take the steps towards creating the life they want to live.
Fiona has been interviewed by The Australian Women’s Weekly, Women’s Fitness Magazine and The New Daily and written articles for Collective Magazine, Herald Sun Melbourne, Sunday Life Magazine, Career One, I Am Woman Magazine, plus Mouths Of Mums and other online publications. You can learn more about working with Fiona at www.lifebalancecoach.com.au or call 0405 433 217.
Image by freestocks.org/StockSnapjo