Why don’t I feel like I’m ever enough?

We all have asked that question at some point in our lives. Feeling inadequate can be the source of a lot of different mental health issues. Many of my clients suffer from feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy, the need to be perfect, and an unachievable image of the Self. Interestingly enough, many of the clients who struggle with these feelings are highly intellectual and gifted people; their internal yearning to be perfect is very real and it’s ironic because most of them do not even know that they fall into this category.

The drive to be perfect and flawless usually leaves you hating yourself. Why? When you try to live up to an ideal image of yourself, you will fall short at some point in life and that is the recipe for self-criticism and self-doubt. Because you do not like to fail, you don’t want to make mistakes. You are expecting perfection is imperfection. When you do make mistakes (which is inevitable), you don’t like it and become increasingly critical of yourself. The desire to control things, even those things outside of you, just leaves you drained of energy. When you reach at this point, you are irritable and overwhelmed, you make more mistakes, and you criticize yourself for perceived failure.

This cycle continues often because you base your self-worth on arbitrary or flimsy measurements such as GPA, Facebook likes, test scores, income, etc. These measurements of the self-worth leave you feeling even emptier after they are taken away from you for one reason or another. You are not yet able to see the beauty of imperfection.

Finally, you begin to ask yourself: Why do I need people to approve of me? Why do I require validation from others? Why can’t I be enough just as I am? Why do I have to please everyone around me?

Here’s a bit of knowledge that will place you on the path of self-acceptance and a more fulfilling life: We all fall short on a lot of different things, but you are perfect the way you are. Embracing this truth is the way you will get out of this negative, self-destructive cycle and start glimpsing the beauty through imperfection. I encourage my clients to embrace their imperfections, differences, and failures. No one else has them; it is what makes you unique and special. You will find your true Self in your differences, not similarities, with others. Imperfection is beauty. You will learn more about your authentic Self from your failures than successes. Embracing your imperfections instead of constantly criticizing them will place you on the path towards acceptance and peace.

Here are two steps you can take today to help you shift your lens regarding your imperfections:

  1. Make a list of all the things you do not like about yourself. For example: not tall enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not successful enough, not mathematical enough, etc.
  2. Now look for strengths within your weaknesses. For example, I am not good at memorizing numbers. The strength I found for this weakness is that I am able to make more decisions with my heart and intuition instead of crunching numbers all the time.

This two-step process has been tremendous in helping my clients and I to replace the feelings of self-doubt and self-criticism with those of strength, courage, and confidence. Try this method and let me know how it works out for you.