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5 Things to Remember when you feel that you are not Good Enough

Children coming from dysfunctional families often internalize negative messages like “ I am not good enough.” For example, the alcoholic parent, who can love and connect to their child one moment, and then suddenly, be completely absent. In abusive families with domestic violence the child can’t understand why the adults are acting so violent and not tuned in to how that effects them. A child’s goal is to be loved and cared for, so they try to “fix” the adult’s problem so they can feel loved, connected, and safe. Desperate to be loved and cared for children will begin to internalize messages like “If only I was a better kid this would not be happening.” “If I got better grades they would pay more attention to me.” If I do all the chores in the house they won’t be angry with me.”  When these behaviors receive any positive attention, children will quickly learn that if Mommy and Daddy are happy then they will be happier too, and will get more of the love they need.  These children often struggle in relationships.

When children grow up the negative internalized messages do not just disappear. They become emotional baggage that burdens the ability to live life intentionally, and authentically. These adults become their own worst critic. They continue to believe that there is something wrong with them. They look for evidence that they don’t “stack up.” For example, not being married by a certain age, not making a certain amount of income, not belonging to a large social circle, or not acting or looking a certain way. The negative self-criticism damages their self-esteem, and they become “stuck” in their head that they can’t measure up and don’t deserve to be loved.

Over the years, I’ve seen people heal from these negative internalized messages with hard work. You can recover from the negative self-critic that lives inside of you. Here are a few things that can help you to realize that imperfection doesn’t mean inadequacy.

1. Stop comparing yourself to others on Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have become a breeding ground for self-loathing. The selfies and pictures that people post is merely a moment in their life. Stop believing that these folks have a perfect life. That they don’t have any problems or don’t struggle with some of the same issues. Focus on where you want to be instead of wishing or being jealous of where someone appears to be in his or her life.

2. Challenge your negative thoughts

The quote “Don’t believe everything you think” is perfect when it comes to our negative thoughts. You can’t stop the thoughts from popping in your head, but you can choose whether or not you will believe them. A great technique is positive self-talk. Get curious with you thoughts and challenge their accuracy. This will help you to step back from the problem and look at the whole picture, instead of staying stuck in the problem.

3. Dial in on what is Good in your life

It is easy to consistently look at what you don’t have or that you are not where you want to be. These kinds of feelings only lead to depressive thinking that robs you of celebrating the good in your life. Keep a gratitude journal, and focus on what is good right now.

4. Focus on progress rather than perfection

One of the biggest culprit of self-loathing is the internalized message of “I must get it right.” Reaching for perfection is an abstract idea that causes us to feel worthless when we don’t achieve this idea. Accept that you can’t be perfect but instead focus on your goals. Even if you fail, give yourself credit for trying, and celebrate even the smallest accomplishments. Learn to appreciate the journey and not just the destination. Writing out your goals is a great strategy to help increase appreciation. Creating a vision board is a fantastic visual aid to keep you inspired.

5. Learn to Love Yourself

Rehearsing negative messages like “I am a failure” “I am worthless” or “I am unlovable” will not make you anymore successful, worthy or lovable. It will keep you stuck in the cycle that you desperately want to exit. Practice self-compassion, and speak to yourself as you would if you were talking to a friend.  Learning self-love requires practice in order to achieve self-compassion.

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