The Belief that I’m Not Enough


I remember skiing with some friends a few years back. These friends are excellent skiers who hit the slopes 20 or 25 times a year. Until a few years ago I was fortunate to get up once or twice.

One of them had a GoPro camera and loved to record himself swooshing down the steepest and toughest terrain on the mountain. He was a great skier. On one trip down, he hollered up the mountain that he was turning the camera on me. I suddenly felt self-conscious as I started down a large track of moguls. I took an easy way down and even curved around some trees so he couldn’t get a good shot of me.

When I came to a stop he asked me why I’d taken the easy way. I told him I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of his youtube followers, many of whom knew me as well. “It’s okay to make mistakes and look imperfect,” he said. “In fact, people love it. It helps them feel better about themselves and gives them permission to be less than perfect.”

Whoa! I realized he was right. Do I have to ski perfectly to feel like I’m enough? Do I have to hide my imperfections or pretend to be more than I am to feel okay? How liberating to come straight down the mountain as an expression of my enjoyment of the day and love of skiing, unconcerned about how I look and what others might think.

We put way too much on comparing and measuring which causes us to live from a scarcity mindset in which what we are and do is never quite good enough. This creates incredible stress and keeps us from loving life.

The truth is that life is not perfect and you and I are not perfect. I love a quote from Alice Walker. “In nature nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted and bent in weird ways and they are still beautiful.”

It doesn’t work, in nature, to compare today’s sunset against a sunset in the past. All we can do is enjoy the sunset of today.

Likewise, it doesn’t work to compare ourselves against someone else or some standard that is not real, for at least two reasons. First, you didn’t create yourself. Give God that credit. You didn’t design your physical stature and traits. You didn’t determine your IQ, strengths and weaknesses, or even most basic personality traits. You were born with them.

Second, you literally could not be any different than you are at this moment in time. You can’t go back ten years and make different choices. Heck, you can’t go back ten minutes and choose differently. You are what and where you are at this moment in time, the only moment that is real.

This is not to say your life is predetermined. You do have the ability to make choices and alter the course of your life. It’s just a lot easier to make those choices as an expression of what you want rather than some need to measure, compare, and prove yourself enough.

The truth is, you can always build a case and find plenty of evidence that you are “not enough.” It seems to be our default strategy. But it is not an empowering strategy nor one that brings joy. A better way to live is to humbly acknowledge your imperfections and yet live courageously from the personal decision that you are enough.

What do you think?


About Roger K. Allen
Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation and family development. His tools and methods have helped tens of thousands of people live happier and more effective lives. To learn more, visit www.rogerkallen.com>.

11 responses to “The Belief that I’m Not Enough”

  1. Richard Corey says:

    Roger, I am grateful for your comments. This one is certainly on point. We live in Sandy and we would love to see you.

  2. Garth says:

    This article touched me directly and deeply.

    You know me. And you know this is where I live. In the world where I’m just not enough. I think “Insecure” is a pretty good word to describe me.

    What’s the next step? I can tell my brain that, “Yes! I am enough!” But so far I haven’t been able to convince me.

    Thanks for all you do.

    Garth

    • Roger Allen says:

      I’m glad the article touched you, Garth. As a response to your question, it is interesting to note that you are really referring to two selves–the one that thinks it is not enough and the one that observes this thought. There are your thoughts and then the observer of those thoughts. I’m going to suggest that this observer (witness) is your true or real self and the fact that you can step back and observe implies that you don’t have to be a victim of this thought. You can challenge it.

      You ask about the next step. I want to ask you to come up with a number of new thoughts that would result in a different experience (feelings and behavior) than you get when you think “I’m not enough.” Write down several alternative thoughts that are incompatible with not being enough. Don’t evaluate, just put several on paper. You can evaluate them later. Now go back and look at them. Which of these new thoughts are most believable? Which resonate most deeply with your higher self? It (they) have to be believable to your true self. So take one that is most believable and write down all the evidence to support it. Then write down the feelings that this thought produces. Then the likely behavior that flows from this thought. Then the results that flow from this thought, feelings and behavior. You are now constructing a new reality for yourself. You can change your thoughts and, by so doing, you can change your outlook and what you get out of life. Don’t empower the old thought. Empower the new thought(s). Practice thinking this way, again and again. (Then give me a call.) You deserve to feel good, my friend.

  3. Rolayne A Sellers says:

    Comparison is the thief of joy. It is so freeing to understand that I am okay to be myself. Thanks for this article.

    • Roger Allen says:

      I like that thought “thief of joy.” So true. Perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves is knowing we are okay. We also have the opportunity to help others know this as well as we show up with love and goodwill.

  4. Connie Anderson says:

    Again, more inspiration that touched me deeply. Your ability to speak the truth and touch hearts is amazing.

  5. Luverne says:

    Wow… this really spoke to me… even the skiing stuff. Except I didn’t “take the easy way down”I simply rolled down the slopes hahahah ( I can laugh about it now). The fact is, I tried to take my life because I was never good enough. Good enough at my job, relationships, friendships… I resented my poor decisions .. I resented myself and projected this onto my family. I struggle with inadequacy. It’s always there. But I am trying to free myself from these chains that have enslaved me for so long. Meditation, staying away from social media , and stopping myself when the urge to compare myself comes along. It is hard. Much harder than any test or exam or interview I have done. My hope is that I will soon win this war on negativity. Thank you

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Luverne. I’m glad the article spoke to you. Thank you for your disclosures in your comment. I think lots of people have feelings of not being enough and it helps if we can be open with each other about this struggle. Your thoughts about how you are overcoming it are also helpful ideas others can learn from. Roger

  6. Monica says:

    Thanks for this beautifully written inspiring article bro Allen ! You are surely gifted with the gift of wisdom and putting that in words. God bless you 🙂

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