We share this thing in common, you and I, and sometimes we are even defined by it – it goes by the name of Comparison and is defined as such:
Compare - To examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences.
The first comparison I recall making was in the first grade. There I was, happily coloring away...
when I looked over at my friend Jill and noticed her paper. Eyes widened, stomach dropped. Jill’s artwork was beautiful. And that’s the moment it happened, Not Good Enough slipped in. Just like that he was embedded; a tiny crack in my six year old self was all he needed.
Here’s the thing about Jill, she was my very first friend. Our mom’s delivered us in the same hospital on the very same day. So even though I was the blue-eyed blonde counterpart to her brown hair and eyes, we were the same in my six year old brain. Equal. I sort of freaked out, “but wait,” I thought, “the only way people are better is if they are older!” I was so confused. My brain, vulnerable as it may be, latched on to the only seemingly logical conclusion, “you simply are not good enough,” it decided. Our highly sophisticated brains like to chunk information into categories and that day, in my first grade classroom, my brain created a folder and labeled it, Not Good Enough, solely based on a comparison.
Over the next two decades I would travel that pathway in my brain between Not and Enough so many times that it seemed incomprehensible that I could think otherwise. Masterfully, I collected data to add to my collection of ‘Not Good Enough’ evidence. What once was a folder full of proof later became a body chock-full of it, leaving little room for anything else. There are a thousand ways to prove your inadequacy; if that’s the kind of thing you’re into. When this is your storyline you begin only to notice all the ways you are lacking and then you attract people into your life that will reinforce this theory.
My clients, by the time they enter therapy, have their own files and begin opening them up, one by one, in my office. They are so bought into the notion of their ‘not enoughness’ that they spend copious amounts of time trying to convince me of this fact. They become especially attached to their familiar folders when I suggest that there may be another way, perhaps a new file worthy of creating. I offer them a new folder, and ask that they label it Good Enough.
If you too, find that pit of ‘not good enough’ in your stomach, I’m offering you a few well used tools to calm those nasty comparisons:
+ Lovingly create your own Good Enough file. Mentally imagine setting aside all of the old folders, allowing the storyline of your inadequacy to recede. Then, spend a little time at the end of everyday writing down all the ways you can remember small moments where you were good enough. Maybe you could even ask some of the people close to you to identify a few if this becomes a struggle.
+Let’s pull off of Interstate Not Good Enough on to a sweet country road that I like to call, Highway Good Enough. You will recognize her, although not all at once, because you once traveled this precious highway exclusively, and much to her despair, took a most unkind detour. In an effort to quiet the ‘not enough voice’ in your head there are a few simple steps. First you name the voice when it starts criticizing you, “oh there you are again, NGE,” and then you say, “I choose to view this another way, a more loving way.” Then, you whisper to yourself, “I am enough.” Over and over. Every day. Let this be your mantra. Even when (insert perceived failure) happens. Whisper it again. Over time, there will be a new pathway formed in your brain. It may look like a little dirt trail initially, but if you travel that path frequently enough, it can become the dominant interstate. And guess what, when Not Enough becomes less traveled, it withers away over time and becomes overgrown with weeds.
+A calming meditation practice when you get stuck in the Not Good Enough land. Sit quietly. Gently rest your right hand over your heart. With eyes closed, set the intention to let go of all that no longer serves you. Inhale through your nose while softly saying to yourself, “I am,” and then exhale through your nose, “enough.” Repeat this over and over and know that as you do, you are actively building your new highway!
Love + Light,