If you’ve ever felt like you’re not enough, my heart goes out to you. I know all too well the pain that comes from striving and achieving and never feeling like it’s good enough. I also know that we’re not alone. Far too many of us learn that the only way to feel love and belonging is better grades, a smaller waist, and a bigger bank account.
The idea that I could inherently be enough, just as I am, in this exact moment is difficult to accept. Not because I don’t want to believe it. Deep down I know that I’ve already gone above and beyond basic enoughness.
I imagine that even the strongest and most confident people occasionally struggle with this. It’s impossible to ignore the familial and societal messages to do more, be more, and have more. On top of that, now we have to deal with constant messages on social media reminding us that we could do better.
While I believe that there’s value in healthy striving, we must recognize that our enoughness has nothing to do with our achievements. Being enough has nothing to do with anything for that matter. We’re simply enough, just as we are, no matter what we do or don’t do.
In this post, I’ll share my journey to feeling like I’m enough. I’ll share resources to help you find your enoughness. And most of all, I hope to convince you that you too are already enough.
Why we struggle to feel enough
I’ve been like this my whole life—not feeling enough. For most of that time, I believed that there was something wrong with me and that I was fundamentally flawed.
It’s easy to see how we absorb these beliefs. Many of us were taught (incorrectly in my opinion) that we’re born with original sin— believing we’re born bad. Then we’re bombarded with messages from the media that we can’t be happy until we have perfect hair, a perfect house, perfectly dressed kids, and wake up at least one Christmas morning to find a Lexus with a big red bow parked in the driveway.
Some of us had parents who expected nothing but perfection—perfection, which of course, could always be better. You probably put a lot of pressure on yourself too. Then we reach the edge of not feeling enough and in an attempt to feel better we pick up our phones and start scrolling through everyone else’s highlight reel on social media.
Unfortunately, we can’t just flip a switch at age 27, 42, or 69 and proclaim that now we’re enough. Well, maybe some people can, but that hasn’t been my experience. I’ve spent four long years focused on this and at best, I can make it four days without second-guessing my enoughness. That’s actually a huge improvement. But the biggest win is that I’ve learned how to pull myself up when I don’t feel enough.“Nobody holds a good opinion of a man who holds a low opinion of himself.” ― Anthony Trollope Click To Tweet
Just how I am
Over the years, I’ve come to learn that this is just how I am. It’s how I’ve been wired since infancy. That doesn’t mean I get to use that as an excuse to stop doing the work. Actually, it motivates me to keep trying to beat it.
A couple of winters ago I was going through a box of stuff from my childhood. I read through my earliest report cards almost in tears. I saw that I’d been carrying this perfectionism my entire life. It broke my heart to think of what a burden that must be for a young child.
To be honest, though, I’d always worn my perfectionism as a badge of honor. I bragged about pulling all-nighters to perfect a project for work. I truly believed that my ability to neglect everything else in my life and work on something until it was perfect was one of my greatest strengths.
Then at age 40, I read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown and my mind was blown. I remember thinking, you mean, I didn’t have to struggle with this my whole life? I felt crushed and hopeful at the same time.
Later that summer I followed up with Brown’s book, I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t). I remember feeling like she had written it just for me. And also that I had a lot of work to do.
It took about 10 months but for a fleeting moment, I felt it. I felt whole. I felt like I was enough and I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
Help is Here
As I’m learning to settle into my enoughness, I want you to know that you too are already enough. No matter what you believe and what you’ve been told, you are enough just how you are, in this moment. Take a minute and let that settle in. Maybe even repeat to yourself—I am enough.
As I mentioned, this will be a journey. It might be hard at first but once you start feeling your life change, you won’t want to quit. Here are some tips to help you see that you are enough.
How to feel enough
1 – Recognize that the behaviors of others have very little to do with you. How people treat you is a reflection of how they feel about themselves. Don’t take anything personally.
2 – Throughout the day, pause, breathe deep, and meditate on the mantra—I am enough!
3 – Make it physical with this sweet yoga practice full of hugs and self-love.
5 – Meditate on loving-kindness and self-acceptance. Experiment with one of Tara Brach’s guided meditations, like this one on self-compassion. And everyone can benefit from learning the loving-kindness meditation.
6 – Never stop learning. I already mentioned The Gifts of Imperfection and I Thought it Was Just Me—both excellent books. Here are some other helpful resources to explore. (Click each title to learn more.)
7 – Stay Inspired. I listen to positive and uplifting content daily. In my post on morning routines, I wrote about our negativity bias and how we need a constant stream of positive messages coming in. Start your journey with this podcast episode by Rob Bell.
What I know about you
No matter who you are or where your journey has taken you, you already have everything you need to start taking steps toward creating a life you truly love. You’re smart enough to write that book. You’re talented enough to become a full-time designer. You’re fit enough to sign up for that half marathon. You’re worthy enough to get that promotion. You deserve all of the good things that are headed your way.
I sincerely mean it when I say that you are enough. I know at my very core that every human being is filled with unlimited potential, and that includes you. Just by showing up here and reading this, you prove that you have what it takes to do anything you put your mind to. I believe in you and the world needs you to do the same. When you’re about to start something new and that little voice pops up to tell you that you’re not qualified, respond by repeating, “I’m already enough.”