(OMTimes | Judith Albright) Feeling unworthy or not good enough. Have you spent much of your life feeling unworthy or somehow inferior? How many times have you held yourself back or prevented yourself from doing something you really wanted to do because you were convinced you weren’t good enough? This insidious belief is the silent saboteur that prevents us from going to college, seeking a promotion, finding a better job, signing up for the art class we always wanted to take, learning to play the piano, finding the right partner, and on and on…it is a mental straight jacket that prevents us from being anything more than we are.
How does this get started?
Were you told as a child (or even as an adult) that you’d never amount to anything, weren’t smart enough, or just didn’t have what it takes to go somewhere in life? Did you learn to settle? Do you keep thinking that somehow you have to keep paying for or make up for past mistakes?
Much if not most of what we believe about ourselves as an adult reflects messages we’ve received over our lifetime from the people around us—family, friends, teachers, school mates, neighbors, religious leaders, bosses and co-workers. If you’ve had mostly positive feedback through the years you are more likely to view yourself as a worthwhile and “good enough “person.” On the other hand, if you have received mostly negative feedback, especially during your formative years and have been criticized, teased or devalued by others, you’re more likely to struggle with low self-esteem and feelings of failure.
When deep down you truly believe that you just don’t have what it takes and are never going to make it or be good enough, you keep repeating the old self defeating behaviors and the same things keep happening. Isn’t that the definition of insanity…to keep doing what you’ve always done and expect something else to happen? Regardless of what you do or don’t do, you are STUCK—mired down in your own destructive beliefs and thinking patterns.
What can you do about it?
To get off roads you may have previously thought closed to you, it is necessary to take your old thoughts and beliefs out of the closet, dust them off, and carefully examine all the reasons why you believe you are not good enough. Is this belief rooted in past failures or fear? Both?
If it is any consolation, some of the most successful people in the world have struggled with multiple failures and the caustic opinions of others. Thomas Edison is one of the most prolific inventors in history (holder of 1,093 U.S patents), but when he was a boy his teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything. As an adult, he tried more than 9,000 experiments before he was able to create the first successful light bulb. During his first press conference, a newspaper editor ridiculed Walt Disney because he had no good ideas in film production. Albert Einstein’s grades in school were so poor that a teacher asked him to quit because “he would never amount to anything.”
If fear is holding you back, what exactly are you afraid of? Is this is a real fear or does it exist only in your mind? Ask yourself, “What is the worst possible thing that could happen to me if I were to do or try this?” Would I be struck by lightening? Probably not. Would people laugh at me? So what? Laugh with them. Would I make a fool or myself or be ridiculed? Maybe, but If someone ridicules you or fails to encourage your efforts, it says more about him or her than it does about you.
What or who is the source of your fear? When did this start—as a child or later on when you were an adult? Where did it happen? Who was involved? Whether or not you are still in contact with any of these people, it is time to break their power over you! What happened with a former boss or co-worker or what your third grade classmates or eighth grade teacher said or did is no longer of any importance or relevance. You are not that same person and you are well past whatever happened. If it is unlikely you’ll ever have to deal with these people again, why are you still carrying around what they said or did and giving them free rent in your head? If the source of your fear is a particular event, learn what you can from it and let it go. Stop allowing something from the past to define who and what you are now.