How do you measure your “enough-ness”?
In the 21st century, we seem to have bought into an idea that worthiness is measurable by comparison. But compared to what (or who), exactly?
‘Celebrities’, social media and even the institutions we work for will set “standards” that often centre on intelligence, appearance and more. Even our mental health is boxed in the public discourse around well-being as simply being either “good” or “bad”, when of course in reality it’s on a continuum. You’ll know yourself if you’ve woken up full of the joys of spring one day, and then come into a snarky email from a customer, how your good mood can quickly fade.
But even so, we worry we don’t measure up to this invisible yard stick that tells us if we’re good enough. So we worry we are not. And, because of this, we step on our own toes or, as Dr Thema Bryant so beautifully puts it, we tread on our own wings. Not because we want to, or even mean to; sometimes we avoid or shy away from things we know would be good for us because doubts creep in. It feels safer to stay back. We don’t go for that job, that promotion or ask for that pay rise because we think we don’t belong in the room.
And if we do ‘chance’ it, we wait for the day when someone figures us out we’re a “fraud” – even though we’re not – and when we are actually more than good enough. Here of course I’m alluding to Imposter Syndrome.
Dr. Aimie Apigian (an MD who discusses trauma) argues that Imposter Syndrome is rooted in two questions: am I authentic enough and am I competent enough, so here’s my take on that:
This week, maybe set the intention to Release the Enough. Look for examples every day that you’re being true to yourself and where you compromised your authenticity. That doesn’t mean, if you had to sacrifice something, that you should punish yourself but more acknowledge how it happens. Where do you feel you need to make yourself small? When do you feel you need to make compromises in order to “fit in”? And why?
The next thing could be to measure how competent you actually are. Surround yourself with friends and colleagues who see your value and worth. Ask them to remind you why you’re “good enough”, even if you don’t believe it right now. Keep a record of your accomplishments. Hang your certificates and successes on your wall. And even when the doubts creep in, maybe just do it anyway.
There’s a reason we “play it safe” though and that can be our past history speaking through our body. You may need to do some work (or ask for help) to get to a place where, as Dr Aimie puts it, you speak from your wisdom rather than your wounds. But remember, you are absolutely meant to have a seat at the table – in fact, it might be others that don’t. You are just as relevant as the next person, and you have a right to be heard and be here.
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© Delphi Ellis 2022