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The "not good enough" virus

OK, so I’m on a mission with this blog: a mission to challenge the “I’m not good enough” virus head on. It seems to be reaching pandemic proportions and I’m done with it.

My beautiful 14 year-old daughter has been coming home these past few years and telling me how her gorgeous friends at school are beset by self-doubt, self-criticism, crippling comparison, depression and even self-harm.

Each time she tells me this, my heart lurches and I feel a terrible sadness.

And although she’s mostly talked about the girls, apparently the boys are now heading in the same direction too: a total crisis of confidence.

In one case, something went so wrong, that an incredibly vibrant, handsome, intelligent, loved, popular and talented 17 year-old committed suicide.

How on earth did it get to the point where so many young, healthy, beautiful, smart, promising people are so full of anxiety and low self-esteem?

Meanwhile, as a fitness and well-being instructor of over 15 years, I can’t tell you how tired I am of hearing women of all ages constantly depreciate their bodies, their looks and their talents. Not to mention the incredible friends and clients I see, who are blessed with so much, yet so often reveal their underlying beliefs of not being good enough.

Heck! I even needed to put myself through the pain of dating a narcissist recently to realise how dependent I still was on external validation around my gifts, potential and beauty !!

Now I KNOW the teenage years are a vulnerable time of change and growth. So I don’t want to diss the reality of that. I remember my own slide into awful insecurity and loneliness once puberty hit.

And I recognise we all come here with a unique soul and genetic blue-print for personality and approach to life.

But there’s something inherently troubling, when it seems to be the societal norm to denigrate oneself, rather than feel relaxed and at ease in one’s own skin.

And let’s not kid ourselves that the ones we consider to be the “coolest” or most “perfect” are actually any more self-loving underneath their swagger or immaculate veneer.

The cool vibe tribe can all too often be a security blanket and a mask. And I’ve had too many stunningly beautiful and/or well-off clients to know that exquisite good looks and “having it all” are absolutely no indicator of deep self-fulfillment.

So what’s going on here?

Well I’ve got two key questions to ask:

1) what’s creating this destructive ethos of “not good enough”? &

2) who benefits?

We’re not born thinking we’re inadequate. We’re made to think it’s so.

Our care-givers, culture and the media all have a role to play. This not good enough virus is passed down through generations and fed to us incessantly through the beauty myth, societal tropes and celebrity idolisation.

We need to stop swallowing this poison and take an objective look at the beliefs being fed to us and the agenda it serves.

So yes, of course our parents are (generally speaking) well-meaning and doing their best, but:

Perhaps they themselves lack a grounded self-belief.

Perhaps they want to live their dreams and ambitions through us.

Perhaps they can’t love us the way we want or need to be loved, because they are love-hungry themselves.

In other words, perhaps they’re unwitting carriers of the not good enough virus.

As my gorgeous daughter said the other day “I’m suddenly realising – you adults are just as insecure as us teens. I always thought you knew it all and had it sorted. Now I’m seeing you don’t.”

So to any young people reading this: please don’t rely on your parents to show you the way. Please don’t take on their projections and bull-shit. Have compassion for them, because they are doing the best they can, but now ditch the undermining not good enough virus, get acquainted with your inherent awesomeness and give yourself permission to shine!

First comes home. Second comes culture.

What messages do your religion, social groups and customs give you? Can you step back for a moment and appreciate that the ways and values you live by are not an unequivocal truth, but a set of beliefs that have changed over time, often determined by those in power?

In Britain, where I live, self-deprecation is written into the culture. Unapologetically owning your gifts can be regarded as uncouth or arrogant. So we police ourselves and one another to make sure no-one values themselves too darn much. We tone it down, deflect a compliment, follow the herd.

And nowhere is there a greater reinforcement of our not good enough-ness, than in advertising and the (social) media. We’re shown an impossible image of how we’re supposed to be, and then sold a bunch of stuff to compensate for our feelings of not measuring up.

But take it from me: I’ve seen more than enough to know that age, size, wealth, status and beauty - ALL those qualities, in fact, that we’re taught to value and measure ourselves against - are no guarantee of self-worth, success or happiness.

The truth is that we are ALL innately perfect just as we are. We have immeasurable value because we exist. We all have gifts. And we all have a purpose for being here.

The Universe is waiting for you to wake up to your self and go live the life you feel destined for.

Not the one your parents had planned. Not the one you think will impress most people. Not the one that will make you most money. Not the one that super famous person has.

Because all of this will leave you cold, hollow and still chasing rainbows, unless you already deeply value yourself.

So why don’t more of us recognise this?

Well…who gets to benefit when we think we’re not good enough?

It’s a belief that leaves us disempowered, disenchanted and wide open to exploitation.

It means we can be manipulated and taken advantage of – in relationships, politics and the work-place.

It means that corporate fat-cats can sell us cars, cosmetics, clothes and all manner of “things” because we’re led to believe that wearing or owning them will make us happy or worthy.

They won’t. Because our worth is not dependent on any one or any thing. It’s an inside job.

It means that pharmaceutical companies make a packet out of drugs for anxiety and depression, rather than introducing a freely available anti-dote to the not good enough virus.

It means we’ll settle for partners, who don’t respect us and push away the ones who do. It means we'll project our flaws and dreams onto others and never feel whole.

It means we won’t get to do what our soul most longs for, because we’ll keep sabotaging ourselves, holding back and hedging our bets, trading security for authenticity, enslaving ourselves to employers and causes we don’t even believe in.

It means, all too often, that we’re not doing what we really could to make this world a better place, but shoring up the status quo, even as it crumbles and falters around us.

Come on people. The world needs us, now more than ever. Not the primped, perfected, apologetic, fake you, who’s trying to impress and measure up. The whole you. The real you. Warts and all. Self-loving, Self-initiated. Full in and full on.

One of my favourite role models is Ed Sheeran. I have my daughter to thank for introducing me to him. And I just love his music, but even more than that, I love who he is and what he represents.

A young boy, who defied the mainstream stereotypes of what physical or musical “good enough” means: he had ginger hair, thick glasses, a lazy eye and, in his own words, “couldn’t really sing”.

And yet this young man held a deep conviction in his inherent worth and an unshakeable dedication to the one thing he was most passionate about. And those two qualities have made him a super-star. Not because he chased fame. But because he believed in himself and followed his heart.

I’ll conclude with the inspiring words of Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Want some support to recognise how awesome you are and/or let go of those limiting beliefs? Then get in touch to discuss a one-to-one. I'm here to support you unfolding into your greatest potential.

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