Episode 23: Am I Enough?
Am I Enough?
This is a question a lot of ask ourselves. We worry that we’re not enough. We’re afraid we’ll never be enough and when we reflect back on our efforts we tell ourselves, it wasn’t enough.
This is an interesting concept and one that I was stuck in for many years as well. I want to shed some light on this today and hopefully offer you a new perspective on how to see yourself and this idea of enough-ness.
For most of us it’s a source of a lot of pain. We try and keep it hidden from others. We don’t want to let on that we’re not enough. We try and keep it secret and hope others won’t really know that deep, deep down we believe that we’re not enough. We’re inadequate. We’re somehow not good enough and so we hide that part of us or we try to hide that part of us but it pops up in our thoughts quite often. Certain thoughts that rear its head when you start feeling good, when you start having the idea that you just might be proud of something you did or a part of who you are, it’s there reminding you that you’re not enough, putting you back in your place as lowly, secondary, and lacking.
These thoughts come up when you go to the closet to find what you’re going to wear for the day. They come up and critique you when you’re talking to a group of people, telling you that you’re saying the wrong thing, they’re not going to like you – and if they ever knew the real you – the not enough you, they wouldn’t want to be around you anyway.
So you stay quiet when you really want to speak.
You skip that cute dress and go for something you deem as safe.
You don’t share or smile as often as you’d like to because, who are you anyway?
You’re not enough.
There’s so many other people that are better than you.
Who do you think you are?
These thoughts, my friends, are 100% poison. They are toxic thoughts.
I want to make this clear from the beginning. There is no blood test or any other way of determining whether a person is GOOD ENOUGH or NOT.
Have you ever asked yourself where that bar is anyway?
At what point will it be enough? At what level or height do you have to reach before you’ll be enough?
Really ask yourself that. I had my thoughts about it to, when I had x amount of friends, THEN I’d be enough.
When I earned and finished these classes or reached this next accomplishment THEN I’d be enough.
When I weighed this amount THEN I’d be enough.
If only I looked like so in so, THEN I’d be enough.
If only I made X amount of money THEN I’d be enough.
If people complimented me THEN that’d prove that I was enough.
But these are lies. Because even when I reached these bars I set for myself in hopes that I’d be enough I still felt lacking. That line, that bar, that finish line to being enough is an illusion. It’s a mirage. It will always be ahead of you, it will always be out of reach until you change the way you see things.
This is a lonely place to be in.
We don’t share this, we don’t share these thoughts with others because it’d be admitting that we’re not enough. It’d be sharing one of our deepest, darkest secrets that we’re lacking, we’re less than, we’re not enough.
When we think those thoughts of lack it creates SHAME. When we feel shame we hide. Shame likes to hide. Shame doesn’t want to reach out. Shame doesn’t want to share. Shame hides. Shame is the belief that something is inherently wrong with you and it’s something that we’re terrified of. We afraid that if something is wrong with us we’re not going to be accepted, we’re going to be alone.
Please start noticing and being aware of when you’re holding back, when you’re hiding – when you’re not picking up the phone to call, when you decline an invite from a friend, when you choose not to do something, wear something, try something because you think you’re not enough – notice the shame that those thoughts are creating.
I used to have this stigma against the word shame. I didn’t really know what it was. I just knew it wasn’t a good thing but I’ve since come to learn that shame is human. Shame is a feeling just like happy is a feeling. Everyone feels shame. It’s part of our mortal journey here and in fact, Dr. Brene Brown also nicknamed The Shame expert shares this,
“Shame is an unspoken epidemic…Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough…Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”
Shame is a vicious cycle because shame feeds on more shame. It’s the epic pity party at work. When we think one thought about our lack, it turns our focus on more lack so we add fuel to the fire and just keep piling it on and on until we’re so low and in this dark place where we feel like Alma The Younger once did, “Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.”
It’s easier to hide. It’s easier not to be seen because if we’re seen we’ll be found out. People will know that we’re not enough and that rejection – the thought of that rejection is so painful and deep it’s easier to hide.
But I want to tell you that there is no need to hide because there isn’t a bar – there isn’t a blood test – there isn’t an “enough”.
I want to shift your thoughts on a few areas today. This first is this idea that our accomplishments somehow qualify us for enoughness.
This is a huge problem with a lot of us, myself included at times. We believe that once we reach some level of accomplishment then we’re enough. We look for ways to identikits ourselves so we can fit in and I’m not talking about fitting in with a group (although it can apply here too) I’m talking about fitting in as a human being and being enough – being worthy to be human and in society.
We look for outside sources to tell us who we are. For example,
I am a dancer.
I am a musician.
I am a baker.
I am a professional athlete.
I am a photographer.
We want these labels. We cling to them because they tell us that we belong, that even though we’re flawed at least we have this, at least we fit in here.
But doing this IS a problem. It’s a problem because you’re a dancer until the day you’re not anymore. What happens if you get in an accident and you can’t dance anymore. Who are you then? This is a problem because we spend so much time and energy clinging to this identity that if or when we lose it, we’re not just losing this activity we once enjoyed, we’re losing a portion of ourselves.
This a huge reason callings are so hard to transition from as well. We cling to these labels too – I am a bishop. I am a RS president. I am a choir director. We proudly share our labels with others as a badge of enoughness because we believe our accomplishments equal and prove that we’re enough but this is misplaced.
Most callings aren’t supposed to last forever. I know this, I’ve felt this. I was so proud to be the choir director of my ward for years and years. I was confident talking to people or going to other wards because I could proudly state that I was the choir director, that I had a place, that I had value, that I was needed, that I was enough – at least in this area until the day I wasn’t – which I shared back in episode ***, The Mix Up
When change happens we lose so much more than what once was – we lose who we are and this is scary because without those labels we’re back in that pool of lack or not enoughness.
So I always teach my kids, my clients, and now my podcast friends to be careful when stating those I AM A’s and change them to constants. Instead of I am a dancer to I am graceful. I’m rhythmic. I’m motion.
Instead of I am a choir director to I am musical. I am serving. I am artistic.
Even things that are inherent like, I am a mother – because even though we will always be a mother even if we lose our children here on earth – even when they grow up we’re tempted to think, I’m not a mother anymore – I’m not needed anymore and we start losing our identity we can always believe I am LOVE. I am supportive. I am caring.
I encourage you to make a list this week, really think about all your I AM A’s and see if you can make the switch to something that will always be you. I am divine. I am growing. I am love.
There is a huge shift that happens when we change those statements from the labels to the values of who we really are. Our accomplishments don’t determine who we are.
We are so much more than what we do. We are so much more than we realize.
Accomplishments seek outside validation. We only claim and take on that label if we believe that others deem it valuable, acceptable, and of worth. I have danced before. I can move to music. But I don’t claim to be a dancer.
I don’t claim that as an accomplishment I have largely because I’m not very good and good by who’s standards? Because I haven’t gotten any awards or recognition? I think I’m not very good because no one has complimented me on it, because people have actually made negative comments about it. Over time, I’ve believed them and I believe I’m not a good dancer.
But how does one truly know if you’re good or not? How do you know if you’re good enough? Who gets to tell you if you’re enough?
My favorite composer, musician, pianist of all time is Sergei Rachmaninoff. His second piano concert is my all time favorite piece of classical music. My husband and I go to great lengths to go and hear this live wherever we can. We’ve gone to countless symphonies over the years to hear this one piece again and again and each time I hear it I’m brought to tears because of the beauty of the piece but also the story behind it. I’m going to share the link to this piece in the show notes so you can hear it to because it’s amazing.
Rachmaninoff was a very accomplished musician, composer, and pianist. He had a vast and extensive list of accomplishments, awards, and recognition. But he was doubtful and struggled with confidence. An all time low for him was after his premier of his first symphony. It was received very poorly mostly by one critic but that was enough to sink him into deep shame and a depression where he didn’t compose or write for almost three years.
Remember, shame likes to hide. Shame will keep you stuck and small.
He sought help and through the help of his psychologist Dr. Dahl he was able to start composing again. A year later he completed his second piano concerto – my favorite – and at the premiere he himself was the soloist dedicating this piece to Dr. Dahl. It was and is one of his most popular and greatest works.
This piece shares his journey through his struggles, his gratitude of finding help, feeling the light again, and ultimately in the third movement, his triumph over his despair. Go listen, it’s deeply profound.
For years as he struggled he didn’t claim that label, I am a composer because he felt, due to this one review, this one person’s perspective that he wasn’t a composer and if he wasn’t a composer or musician, then who was he? That’s all he’d seen himself be since he was a child. He lost his identity that night because he put his identity in the hands of others.
Lesson here, don’t seek outside validation to prove your worth, your value, your identity.
You might play music. You might write music. You are musical. You are creative. You are unique.
Don’t allow others to tell you who you are and who you’re not – what qualifies them to tell you anyway? Don’t place your identity on your accomplishments or on the outside things you do. Drop the A – I AM A – ponder this – who are you really? You are whole. You are divinity. You are enough.
Elder Cornish shared his thoughts in a general conference address in 2016 he said,
“There is no such thing as ‘being good enough’ …we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We torture ourselves needlessly by competing and comparing. We falsely judge our self-worth by the things we do or don’t have and by the opinions of others…the only opinion that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us…He will love and correct but never discourage us; that is Satan’s trick”
We are here to learn, to become more refined, to become like him. We’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to fall a lot but this is part of the process. It’s not a sign that you’re failing. It’s not a sign that you’re not good enough. It’s a sign that you’re becoming.
When babies are learning to walk they fall a lot again and again. We don’t scold them and tell them they’re not good enough that it’s been weeks and they’re still not getting it they should just give up. They don’t think that because they’ve fallen that they’re not good enough. They don’t see it as failure. It’s progression. Let me try that again.
And what do we do when we see them trying? We encourage them. We love them. We want to help them. We speak kindly to them.
I’m not telling you to seek outside validation from others – encouragement is always welcome but the voice that stands out the loudest in your mind is yours- what YOU say to yourself matters. When you encourage yourself you try harder, you try again. When you speak negatively to yourself you feel shame and you hide, you give up, you create pain for yourself.
Encourage yourself to try again. Even if no one else sees how hard you’re trying. Even if they or usually it’s just one person – even when that one person tries to verbally knock you down – it doesn’t matter because what you say to yourself – what you choose to believe is what’s going to create how you feel and how you feel is important because it motivates you to act and it’s that action that keeps you moving forward, progressing.
Elder Klebingat said, (and I’m paraphrasing) Don’t “Allow these voices to chisel away at your soul…living this way isn’t fun, nor is it healthy, nor is it necessary. The decision to change, to progress is yours and yours alone.”
There’s a book called, The Practicing Mind by Thomas Sterner which I highly recommend. He shares in this book,
“As we attempt to understand ourselves and our struggles with life’s endeavors,
we may find peace in the observation of a flower. Ask yourself:
At what point in a flower’s life, from seed to full bloom,
does it reach perfection?”
I loved this whole chapter in which he talks about this – go read this book, it’s awesome! He shares as a seed- it’s perfect at being a seed yet it doesn’t have any outside accomplishments to show yet. But it’s perfect at being a seed. It’s perfect at being a seedling, at just sprouting and finding the sunlight. It’s perfect at being a bud and developing beautiful, vibrant pedals. It’s perfect when it’s in full bloom and it’s perfect when it’s bloom is over. The flower from seedling to full bloom and beyond is perfect.
It is beauty, it is growth, it is life.
But we don’t see ourselves like this and it’s a bummer because we’d show up much differently if we did. We wouldn’t compete with the flowers next to us seeing them in their different stages and wanting to be like them. We’d embrace and savor our stage right where we’re at now. We’d relish in the opportunity to be just starting out and growing, developing, becoming.
I love the quote that says,
“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” ― Zen Shin
It is enough right where it’s at, at the stage it’s at, with the colors it has, with kind of flower it is. It’s beauty and we find joy in looking at flowers and thinking about their existence. How much joy are you suppressing because instead of looking at others with love and amazement at who they are – instead we turn inward and compare to everything we’re not yet.
Bloom my friends. Just allow yourself to bloom – drop the I AM A’s and find peace in who you really are – you are beauty, you are unique, you are different and you’re supposed to be different -it’s who you are and it’s by divine design that you’re different. It’s one of your greatest virtues. The adversary wants you to be repelled by your differences. He wants you to hide and be small. Heavenly Father wants you to shine and be a light. He wants you to find JOY. God is LOVE and as His child, YOU are LOVE.
We have this notion that there’s only so much. There’s only so much beauty. There’s only so much money. There’s only so much popularity. There’s only so much success. So when we see that someone else has a big portion we shrink and feel bad because if they have that much there isn’t much left and why should you get any?
But these are thoughts are toxic. They are methods of the adversary to keep you from trying and moving forward. One of my favorite scriptures from the Savior says this:
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
God is everlasting to everlasting. There isn’t a limit. There isn’t a pie. There isn’t an enough.
There’s abundance for everyone.
You aren’t enough because you are MORE than that.
I’ve shared this before and I’m sure I’ll share it again and again because I hope it stick and resonates in you as it does in me, President Hinckley said that,
“You are a child of God of infinite capacity.”
Infinite. Never ending. Limitless.
This is who you are.
This is your identity.
You’re not enough – you’re more than.
I have so much more to say on this topic so don’t worry – there’s more and more for you coming. Today I just want you to soak in the idea that there is no pie. There’s no limit.
You are not what you do – your accomplishments are not who you are.
Take some time and make the change in your thoughts and labels about yourself that you are not A anything – you are – and dig deeper – who are you? Not what are you – You ARE love. You ARE limitless. You ARE lovely. You are perfect at where you’re at right now in your progression – it doesn’t mean stop – it means to savor this season – even if it’s dark and heavy like the seed that is planted. This is when you should be most proud – this is when you try your hardest and you experience the most growth and strength. Love others around you, enjoy their beauty instead of comparing them to you – you can’t – it’s not possible to compare each other – we’re too different to do so. So just enjoy them and love you.
Don’t let the adversary chisel away at your soul. I’ve always loved that visual because if you’ve even seen a chisel at work it takes off tiny, thin slivers at at time. It’s not huge chunks it’s slivers. One thought at a time. Don’t allow those to stay. You are in charge of what you believe. Just because the thought presented itself to you – and it will – it doesn’t mean you invite it in to move in with you. In those moments challenge the thought but remind yourself that you are limitless, you are strength, you are love.
Okay my friends, I hope you have a wonderful week. As always I love hearing from you – thank you for your comments and emails. I appreciate every single one. (You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
I’d also like to remind you to try out a mini session with me. It’s free. It’s life changing. I know I was nervous and skeptical at first but I felt prompted to take that step and I’ve never looked back. This work has helped me become a better me. It has helped me understand and apply the gospel truths in a way that I didn’t before. It taught me to notice and question the adversary’s clever tactics and thoughts. If you’ve never tried life coaching, now might be a perfect time for you to try it. You can book that on my website – www.thecatalystcoaching.com under the free coaching tab.
See you next week!