That critical voice in our heads that tells us that we aren’t perfect enough, skinny enough, rich enough, or simply “enough” in general.
Have you heard that, or variations on the theme, before? It doesn’t necessarily need to be skinny or rich, there are a whole host of other things it could be. Smart enough, together enough, nice enough, coping enough, strong enough. The list of “not enoughs” is endless.
Raise your hand if you’ve been there.
These voices are usually the first response we hear inside us when something unexpected happens, when something goes awry, when judgements are made or looks given. These responses begin when we’re young. They are the comments we hear others make about themselves, the judgements made about others. The media campaigns designed to make us feel like we aren’t ‘enough’ without the next new miracle fix for whatever we don’t have. When we hear these things often enough we begin to believe them. We become conditioned to believe and the “not good enough” response becomes automatic. We live by these responses and they become our reality and our identity.
We regularly feel like we need to live up to expectations and when we find ourselves falling short we beat ourselves up, regardless of the actual circumstances. We might be facing some pretty extreme life stresses, and yet we still feel like we should be able to keep it together, hold everything up and get through it, all with a smile on our faces and energy to burn.
Sometimes what we really need to do is recognise and acknowledge the reality. The STUFF that we are dealing with in our lives is big! It’s family relationships, health issues, death. It’s employment, study, children. It’s finances, housing, friendships. It’s LIFE! And when life stressors combine and build it creates a huge load for us to carry. And yet, when one teeny tiny thing doesn’t quite work the way we want it to, rather than seeing it for what it is, we allow those automatic responses in to tell us how inadequate we are.
- When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed try writing a list of all the things that have happened in your life recently. You may need to go back several months. For example, the death of a loved one, the end of a friendship, end of semester university assessments, work pressures, your own or your children’s health, and so on. Get it on paper so you can see it visually. Sometimes this alone helps us to acknowledge the reality.
- Then, ask yourself this question: if one of your closest friends had all this to cope with, what would your suggestions be to them if they were coming to you saying they felt like a failure because they haven’t been able to stick to a simple exercise routine every day.
It’s times like these when we need to be kind to ourselves. If you would recommend that your best friend take some time out to nurture themselves, then maybe the same strategy would work for you too. There are times when we just need to put everything down and give our body, mind and spirit a holiday. Not necessarily one where you leave home and do the touristy thing, but one in which you simply take a break from the routine that is life. Stop trying to be super productive and perfect. Perfection just doesn’t exist.
Instead, allow yourself some down time. Do some things that nurture YOU! Do some things that are completely self-indulgent. Do some things that fill your soul and make your heart leap for joy. Refill your emotional fuel tank so that you can get back to your life feeling refreshed and ready to manage the load waiting for you.