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“Not Good Enough” is not good enough

By Tony Caldwell

Many of us struggle with self-defeating thoughts, low esteem, and other such barriers to well-being. Notice I didn’t say happiness, but well-being. Happiness is circumstantial. It changes like the weather. But joy, that’s another matter. And joy is an aspect of well-being. Well-being involves relating to ourselves and others in ethical, life-affirming, and life-giving ways. For some, feeling “not good enough” is a daily battle. This can be experienced as a vague but comprehensive feeling of unworthiness that also includes distinct flareups, especially when we aren’t performing well. Calls to humility instead lead to humiliation. We become performance-based and somehow fall under the illusion that our worth is at stake in any given interaction. This is a result of entertaining painful and traumatic thoughts. Thinking lies is painful. But believing lies is traumatic. And repeatedly believing lies is self-harm.

It’s the pain caused by these thoughts that make them stick. Believing lies hurts so bad that it leaves an impression. Then we get stuck in the cycle of these thoughts and feelings fueling one another. After a while, we become brainwashed by this repeated combination of thoughts and feelings. Our pain can keep us on a spectrum somewhere between inflation and deflation. Deflation is the unworthiness and worthlessness and inflation is the compensatory ways in which we try to feel better. This can become manifest in our behavior. Some examples are bragging, attention seeking, achievement, relationship addiction, preoccupation with looks, accomplishments, though there are countless other ways. Take an inventory. How do you attempt to manage, cope with, and balance out your negative thoughts and their corresponding feelings?

Only lies can be this destructive and lead us to behave in such a destructive manner. Even difficult truths are ultimately constructive. But lies, they are destructive. And they lead nowhere. Not ‘believing in yourself” has never served a good purpose for a single individual at any point in history and it won’t start with you. It’s a dead end. A terrible, depressing dead end. So if you can’t muster up an inspired reason to stop believing lies then just do it because it’s the only sane, rational, and constructive thing to do. It’s the right choice for you and everyone else that you interact with. Because believing lies makes us unethical. When we believe lies, we seek corrective experiences with others. We can’t relate appropriately to others because we need them to fuel our own diminished ego strength. This is the vampiric quality of unworthiness. We also hand other our power to others, craving positive feedback and feeling lessened by criticism. This is, at best, a form of laziness and, at worst, a form of idolatry. When we don’t feel good enough we objectify ourselves. And, even worse, we objectify others. And, if we don’t untangle this bad wiring, we pass it on to our children. We can’t teach worth if we are not modeling worth.

So, if you are struggling with feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness, you can keep doing the same thing and expecting different results or you can snap out of it, break the spell, and refuse the cycle of lameness that is chronic self-loathing. After all, it’s the only good option you have. And your life, or at least your quality of life, depends on it.

Refuse to serve thoughts that do not serve you. Stop the cycle of abuse inside your heart and mind. Make peace with yourself. And be well.

Tony Caldwell, LCSW is a psychotherapist in private practice in Oxford, Ms. Find more of his writings at www.tonycaldwell.net.