Overcoming the “I’m Not Good Enough” Voice
Continuation of "Whose Voice Are You Listening To?"
“The deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation. You are not discovering yourself, but creating yourself anew. Seek therefore, not to find out Who You Are, but seek to determine Who You Want to Be.” – Neale Donald Walsch
We live in a world where the theme of unworthiness shows up in all areas in life. As kids, we proudly show off our high marks and perfect behaviors knowing they will earn us praises and approval from adults, and as adults, we constantly judge and punish ourselves for our lack of wealth, success, relationships and others’ good opinions of us. In my healing and coaching practice, the most common story that is told over and over is the one of “I’m not good enough.”
That was the story of my life as well for over 3 decades. Having grown up in an Asian culture in the 80’s where being an overachiever was encouraged, and the accepted, even celebrated method to motivate children was to subject them to harsh criticism and belittling (“who do you think you are,” “you are nothing until you prove your worth so you can be something,” etc), I not only internalized the disempowering belief of “I am not good enough,” but also I made sure it dominated and manifested in every area of my life without fail.
As powerful as this, or any belief can be, it is only a belief and we can choose to liberate ourselves from it simply because it isn’t who we are anymore. If you are constantly battling with a similar story, I invite you to read and practice the following steps to take your power back from that belief.
Signs, Signs Everywhere
The first sign is always what we call a negative feeling. Our feelings are intelligent communications from our bodies to indicate to us whether a belief is in or out of alignment with who we are. How we feel at any moment is filtered by our thoughts and our thoughts derive from our existing beliefs. When our beliefs are no longer serving us, our feelings - being the language of the soul in a very literal fashion will give us a little (or large) kick to raise an alert. When I am in a coaching session, whenever a story comes up that is out of alignment, I always ask my clients how it makes them feel. The answer is always along the line of “it makes me feel crappy.”
The signs can range from physical ailments such as lack of energy or tension in various parts of the body to mental and emotional symptoms such as procrastination, depression and anxiety; or they can be a combination of conditions from all levels including feeling a tight knot of anxiety in the stomach that is often accompanied by digestive issues.
Our beliefs also have clever ways to disguise themselves as positive as well as socially approved motivations and behaviors. Perfectionism is one of them. For the longest time I unconsciously chose to tell the story of “I am a perfectionist” which allowed me to get away from the harsh voice of “I am not good enough.” Yet time and time again when I ruthlessly put myself down for every little perceived failure, I finally realized my perfectionism was only a sugar coated version of “I suck.”
Another common disguise is altruism, or people pleasing behavior. We convince ourselves it is noble of us to place others’ needs before ours as well as compromise our own happiness because it earns us praises such as compassionate, kind and selfless. Some of us have the tendency to give ourselves up or lose ourselves completely in relationships. Our society has a very powerful reinforcement system when it comes to encouraging selfless behavior without addressing the fundamental notion that our first relationship is always the relationship with ourselves. Without loving, cherishing and respecting ourselves, there is no relationship with others. When we do not know how to value ourselves and make the highest choices for ourselves, how can we honor others as loving, deserving and worthy?
There is certainly nothing wrong with goal setting and giving our best in every circumstance and relationship. However, it is helpful to always do a little honest self-inquiry and ask ourselves how each decision makes us feel. And if it does not feel uplifting, what belief is underneath that decision?
When we practice consciously acknowledging our old patterns every moment of everyday by listening to what our bodies are trying to tell us, we are stepping out of the unconscious and reactive way of living so we can compose a response that allows us to freely create based on who we want to be rather than recreate past scenarios of who we were told to be.
Instead of going down that old beaten path that leads to nothing but a stinking swamp, aka the self-blame and self-punishment for not being worthy, we can choose again and create a new path. The more we can catch ourselves on auto pilot, the more we can rewire our brains to think and behave differently.
Many feel the need to repress, deny and condemn “negative” feelings because we’ve been conditioned to believe we must run away from any feeling that is unpleasant, it is equivalent to trying to shoot the messenger who is warning us of a possible attack. Our feelings are mere messengers who work to serve us by showing us what is currently not working. In order to change the way we feel, we must first address the cause of the wounds – the beliefs.
Once we catch the disempowering story sneaking up, the first step to change any belief is to make the decision to change.
It all starts with a firm decision, but it doesn’t end there. This can be a discouraging step for many because we like to think that once we choose differently, everything will change.
The answer is yes and no. When we firmly set an intention, or make a decision to be or do something, we begin shifting the energy in us, hence around us to set things in motion. Opportunities will begin presenting themselves to us to assist us in our new path.
The hard part is the process of change isn’t just an affirmation or a one-time action but a continuous commitment and endless effort until the echoes of our past stories no longer surface. Many times my clients complain to me, “I’ve already decided I want to tell a different story, why are things still the same?”
I have gone through a similar process. Once upon a time, I was convinced if I made the decision to change my beliefs, life would show up perfectly reflecting back my new beliefs until I received a pleasant surprise of catching myself going down the old path that led to the swamp.
One day, after one of my mentoring calls with Neale Donald Walsch, I sent him an email with an inquiry of a program I was invited to attend and I never heard back. At first I thought he was busy, but weeks went by and nothing happened. Thoughts such as, “Neale is a well-known spiritual teacher and author. Who do I think I am? I am not good enough and I don’t deserve his time” began surfacing and I was consumed with doubt and self-judgment.
During our next call, I found the courage to share my story with him and we discovered he never received my email because it ended up in spam. When I shared the stories I told myself about this experience, we both had a good laugh and his words to me were,
“This is a good lesson for you. Do ask ‘who do I think I am’ every moment knowing life is a process in which we create ourselves anew every second of everyday. If we don’t like the way we are being, we can choose to be different for the next moment. If the story ‘I am not good enough’ isn’t who I am, choose again. So keep asking ‘who do I think I am’ and follow it with ‘who do I want to be?’”
It was a much needed experience for me to know that until the decision of change is supported and demonstrated by continuous choices and actions that align with the decision, it is only wishful thinking. Given the different intensities of energy that thoughts, words and actions produce and actions being the most potent in their creative power, it is no wonder “actions speaker louder than words” and why they are the fastest ways for us to replace old beliefs.
Every moment is a moment of choice and creation, every moment is an opportunity for us to decide and declare to the world who we desire to be. If we happen to slip, it is perfectly ok. The next moment is always available upon us just like the next breath for us to choose again. If it takes choosing differently every minute of every hour for us to live a conscious life, so be it.
Never give up to be who you are no matter how stubborn the residual energy from the echoes seem to be because every time when you choose to create a newer version of yourself, you are increasing the energy of your new empowering beliefs and dismantling the energy patterns around those past beliefs. This is the power of free will.
Change is only difficult if we perceive it to be. Who said we can’t have a little fun with it? This is the time to get creative and playful.
When I was battling my 30-something-year-old fear patterns, as much as I told myself to choose and choose again every five minutes, there were still times when I forgot who I wanted to be simply because it is so easy for all of us to allow our unconscious to take over and hand us the old habits.
I created little systems to remind myself of my new choices by placing post-it notes all over my desk and setting hourly phone reminders so I could always honor my decision to change. One of my clients chose the statement “it is not me, it is my mind” which has been working well for her whenever the anxiety kicks in.
I am never big on generic positive affirmations as I feel unless my energy truly matches what the words are affirming, they’re just empty words. Too many times I hear others complain about affirmations not working because they feel “fake.” If something does not feel genuine and feels too good to be true, we are only manifesting that energy of “yeh right, like that is going to happen” rather than radiating “I feel confident and loved.”
If we do not believe what we are saying wholeheartedly, the universe will not believe us either and will continue to present us with more opportunities until we clean up the echoes.
So I purposefully chose statements that were personal and empowering to me. Sometimes it would be a favorite quote from an author, other times it would simply be something that was meaningful and connected to what I was looking to achieve at the time. For the longest time, the quote on my homepage is the one I chose for the beginning of this article because it resonates deeply with me.
My favorite reminder so far is to empower others to achieve the same on a daily basis whether it is in a healing session or a Facebook post. Every time when we become the inspiration to help others to take back their power and remember their true essence as creators rather than victims, we are multiplying the energy of change tenfold. In the realm of the absolute, there is only One and we are all manifestations of the One Source. What we do for others, we do for ourselves and vice versa. No energy can be more powerful than the energy coming from a multitude of us working to achieve a common goal. By being the source to remind others to shed disempowering beliefs and tapping into their true potential, we are raising global consciousness and spreading the light.
There is no limit as to what we can do to assist ourselves and others to step into our power. Insert some humor and get the dopamine firing, laughter is the best cure for everything! Start a social media challenge to get our friends involved to be loving to themselves. Write a sentence about who we are creating ourselves to be on the bathroom mirror. Set a reminder of two photos side by side with one being the beautiful destination and the other being the stinky swamp with a funny song. Ask our loved ones for feedback to monitor our progress. Dare someone, or better, dare ourselves to go on a day without one self-deprecating thought and see how good that feels. Now do two, and increase from there. The possibilities are endless.
How will you challenge yourself to rid of the voice “I am not good enough” for once and for all?
The light and love in me honors the light and love in you.
Also published on Wake Up World.