I was scrolling through Instagram the other day, looking at inspiring pictures of healthy, delicious meals people had prepared for their families. Other images featured spacious porches decorated with cozy couches, colorful pots of flowers, numerous candles, and stylish rugs. I paused to read a quote about gratitude, then kept scrolling. There were pictures of amazing hotels located inside National Parks, thin women in bikinis laughing poolside, and people wearing beautiful dresses to outdoor summer weddings. I looked at photos of people doing yoga poses on the beach, in the Greek isles, promoting their next retreat, and sharing their favorite smoothie recipe. I began to wonder why I wasn’t offering a retreat or taking pictures of myself doing yoga poses in nature. Maybe I should be preparing more nutritious meals for my family? Perhaps if I only consumed smoothies, I’d lose those extra ten pounds and be able to wear a bikini? Was I riding my bike enough? Doing enough yoga? Was I achieving enough? Earning enough? Was I GOOD ENOUGH?
The inspiration had turned to self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. I shut off the app, put my phone down, and walked away wondering why I waste time scrolling through Instagram only to end up feeling bad about myself.
What even is “good enough?”
If you’ve ever wondered whether or not you’re doing enough, achieving enough, successful enough, thin enough, sleeping enough, or good enough… you are NOT alone!
The phrase “good enough” implies that there is a standard we need to meet. But what is that standard? Who sets it, and who enforces it? Who decides that when I weigh xx pounds, I’ll be thin enough? Who will tell me when there is enough money in my bank account? Will someone show up at my house to let me know that the meal I prepared for my family was healthy and delicious enough? Will I receive a gold star when I can finally do a handstand in the middle of the room? Of course not. None of these things are true, yet we seem to spend a lot of time judging ourselves and then feeling inferior.
How we got here
I find it reassuring to know that an email bounced or communication was muddled because mercury was in retrograde. In the same way, it can be helpful to understand why we might feel inadequate or that we are not good enough. These beliefs can come from external factors, like commercials, society, and lessons learned in childhood, and from internal expectations we set for ourselves.
The outside world is constantly bombarding us with images in social media, advertisements, and movies telling us how we should look, speak, think, travel, exercise, and parent. Growing up, society may have told you that you had to behave a certain way, wear these clothes, show those emotions, and choose from these jobs.
You may have internalized some of these messages from a well-meaning parent, coach, or teacher. Or, perhaps you are a perfectionist who sets unrealistic expectations of what you should accomplish in a day, how clean your house needs to be, or how often you should exercise. Our inner critics can be loud, bossy, and downright mean!
No matter how we got here, when we can recognize the source of feeling like we’re not enough, we can begin to challenge and change the inaccuracies. We can ask questions and make decisions based on facts. When we catch ourselves going down the rabbit hole of self-doubt and unhelpful thoughts, we can choose a different path.
Don’t believe everything you think
Here are a few ways to shift the inadequacy thinking pattern and start believing that you are enough:
- Stop comparing yourself to others ~ It’s so easy to look at someone else’s Facebook post showing a picture of them in a challenging yoga posture and think, “I’ll never be able to do firefly pose.” But do we actually know the whole story? How long have they been practicing yoga? What other forms of exercise do they do to build strength? How many times did they fall out of the pose before they got that one perfect shot? When we pause to recognize that we aren’t seeing the “full picture,” we can begin to let go of self-judgment and competition.
- Recall past achievements ~ You forgot to teach tree pose on the second side in your yoga class last week. Does that mean you’re a failure as a yoga teacher and you might as well quit? Of course not…you’ve remembered to teach both sides in the past 499 other classes. When you catch yourself questioning your abilities, take a moment to recall at least two achievements. We tend to ruminate on mistakes and criticism more often than we acknowledge our successes and complements. But, when we decide to focus on the positives, we can begin to slowly change our thinking patterns.
- Focus on progress, rather than the end goal ~ The next time you notice you’re feeling inadequate about where you are in your career, stop. Remember that your worth is not tied to your achievements. What have you done recently to move in the direction you want to go? Keep in mind that small course corrections make big changes over time.
- Replace negative self-talk with a positive mantra ~ It might sound a bit “new-agey,” but if we can replace an unfavorable thought (I burned another dinner. I’m such a terrible cook) with a helpful mantra (I am experimenting with new recipes), we can give ourselves some new labels. This study actually showed that positive affirmations are valuable in improving motivation, performance, focus, concentration, health, relationships, and self-confidence.
Some mantras I like to use when I’m not feeling good enough include:
- Progress, not perfection.
- My work does not define me.
- I am strong, healthy, and present in the moment.
- This too shall pass.
- I choose peace instead of ______ (worry, self-doubt, lack).
- I am enough.
5. Adopt an attitude of gratitude ~ The opposite of scarcity (not good enough) is abundance, and our lives are filled with things to be grateful for. The next time you catch yourself feeling less-than because of someone else’s photos of their beautiful kitchen, amazing trip to Paris, or shiny, white teeth, stop and think of five things you’re grateful for right now. When we focus on the abundance in our lives, we rewire our brains to be both present and grateful.
Take this mindset to the yoga mat
Yes, there is always room for improvement in our lives, and change, challenges, and progress are necessary parts of growth as a human. But if it seems like you’re constantly comparing yourself to others, questioning your worth, and feeling inadequate, it’s time to acknowledge that the inner critic might be lying.
Join me for a live virtual yoga class or schedule a private yoga session. We’ll work together to question your inner critic and adopt a helpful set of beliefs about how amazing, empowered, and enough you actually are.