In the past, I’ve thought that one of my worst tendencies was to tell myself “I’m not good enough.” In a variety of forms, it’s that sentiment that often drives me crazy, pushes me to punish myself or to run myself ragged, or more often, just to break down and cry.
This weekend, I had what I will lovingly refer to as a pity party when I got to thinking that I’m not up to snuff. This time, it was over workouts and cycling, but this happens with school, with my career aspirations, with how I think I’m doing as a daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, etc. As soon as the “I’m not good enough” spiral started, I needed the tissue box.
Luckily, I have a boyfriend whose exceptionally patient and gets just frustrated enough with my boo-hooing to remind me that it’s not all that productive, but will also let me figure it out for myself.
I realized that I’ve spent a lot of time trying to just tell that gremlin that says I’m not good enough to shut up or even trying to send it the opposite message. But then I got to thinking: what else can I do with that thought? Rather than making myself feel bad for not being good enough and then stacking up more guilt over having that “bad” thought, what if I did something productive with it instead?
Let’s take our bodies for instance. Perhaps we look in the mirror or try on a pair of pants that don’t fit how we want them to and feel defeated. Maybe we see someone with a body that we think is “better” than ours—looks healthier, bikes up a hill faster, lifts more weight, whatever—and we start to feel that familiar sense of “I’m not good enough.” We have options: we can cry and give up, or we can decide to use that sense of not measuring up to try to do a better job. Maybe we go out and train on the hills more, maybe we push ourselves harder in the gym, maybe we remember when we’re dipping into the chocolate that we want something different and something better for ourselves. Not feeling “good enough” doesn’t mean that our bodies aren’t “good” and that we can’t take pride in where we are. We can work on accepting ourselves where we are while we still strive forward.
When we have the feeling that we’re not good enough, we all have our tendencies. Mine is to cry for a while. Sometimes I give up, sometimes I get going. I think maybe the best use is to take it as a sign: I want to be better. Rather than assuming that it’s a mean message that we’re sending to ourselves, what if it’s actually coming from a place of love and worthiness? When it comes to our thoughts, they certainly shape our world–but it’s our reactions to them that determine what we do about them, and what we do about them is where the world-shaping happens.
Maybe “I’m not good enough” translates into “I can do better” or “I deserve more,” and then it’s easy to see how this “bad” thought I’m so used to making wrong is actually one of the things that keeps me reaching for better things for myself. Then, rather than another reason to beat myself up or one of my worst traits, this whole thought process is actually worth appreciating in myself. “I’m not good enough” can break us down, or it can keep us going. There’s a(n awesome) weightlifting coach at our gym who we attribute the quote “Just be better” to. I think that applies here. I’m going to choose, as much as I can, to turn my “I’m not good enough”s into the drive and determination that I know is in me, no tears required.