I hate myself. I am flawed. I am unworthy. No one will ever love me and I will never be good enough. These were the beliefs that I carried around with me for most of my life. This cloak of self-loathing was fastened so tightly around my neck, that I could never get it off. It was always with me as far back as I can remember, so wearing it felt quite normal. It was a gift, or more like a curse, that was passed down from generation to generation in my family.
When I was a newborn I was good enough. When I was a toddler I was good enough, but somewhere around the time that I had learned to speak and form sentences, I kept getting the message that I was not good enough. It was with me in adolescence. It became more than apparent as I started dating and when I reached adulthood, every time I pulled up to life’s feast, I would take a few crumbs from the table and pretend that I was full. Everyone around me had plates piled high with delicious delicacies, but never me. Other people were worthy of such things, I was not. So I accepted the crumbs I got in my relationships and I pretended that that was enough. I accepted the crumbs from my employer and I pretended that that was enough. All I ever got or expected were crumbs and I was starving for something more.
One day when I was 17 I met a man in his early 30’s. He ran his own business and he drove a red convertible Porsche. To my naïve, young mind, he wreaked of success. We began dating and I soon discovered that he lived in his mother’s basement and that his monthly business earnings were just a little bit more than the lease payments on his Porsche. He wore the mask of a successful businessman, because without the Porsche, he was just a 30 year old man living with his mom.
All of us wear masks of some sort. We all suffer in varying degrees from ‘I’m not good enough’ syndrome. It’s part of being human. We all have voids, doubts and insecurities. Even the most beautiful super models have insecurities, the greatest athletes have insecurities, everyone has them.
Many of us lie about our age, our weight, our income and a plethora of other things. There is so much pretending that goes on in the world, because just about everyone wants to be something they are not. This goes far deeper than striving for a better life and wanting to be better person. At the very heart of I’m not good enough syndrome is fear, fear of not being accepted, fear of abandonment and ridicule, fear of being judged and found lacking. So we hide the real us and create an illusion for the rest of the world.
We all know people that live lives that they can’t afford. They drive fancy cars, live in expensive homes, and create an aura of prestige, meanwhile the truth is they are heavily in debt, miserable, full of anxiety and highly stressed out, all because the façade of success and how they are perceived by others is more important to them than their spiritual and emotional wellbeing.
Years ago I had a friend that was a realtor. He wasn’t a very good realtor, he rolled out of bed at noon every day and if he sold 3 houses a year that was a good year. He lived with his parents, but he was attractive and he drove a BMW. He wanted to meet really fit, attractive well-to-do women, so he bought a membership at a gym in a well-to-do neighborhood. And he did meet someone, a beautiful fit woman with a six figure income. She was crazy about him at least about the picture that he presented to her. He played the role of a successful real estate agent and health fanatic (he hated working out and only joined the gym to meet women) and she bought it hook line and sinker. They married quickly and were happy for a while, until of course the truth came out. She would get up and go to work every day while he stayed in bed. He was not contributing much to the relationship financially or emotionally. She found that she was paying for everything and she was getting more and more resentful. She realized that he hated the things he pretended to like in the beginning and that they really had nothing in common. She would initiate huge screaming matches and take passive-aggressive digs at him every chance she got. They were both miserable and they eventually divorced after two years.
The bottom line is that all of this could have been avoided if he had just been himself.True, he might not have got that particular woman, but he would have got the right woman, who would have accepted him for who he was – not who he pretended to be. When we pretend we give others way too much power over us. Living an illusion is not possible long term. The truth will always come out and the repercussions just feed the’ I’m not good enough monster.’
The Real Secret
A couple of years ago I learned a secret. Lean in really close. That secret is this: Being good enough is our divine birthright. We are worthy because we exist. All this shame and guilt that you’ve been carrying doesn’t even belong to you. Why don’t you believe you‘re good enough? Is it because someone told you so? Because someone treated you badly? How someone else behaves says nothing about your worthiness, but it says everything about them. Miserable people who don’t feel good enough themselves, are always the first in line to project their issues and unhappiness onto others. And when you are a child your emotional development isn’t mature enough to understand and make sense out of what you’re experiencing, so you accept the opinions of others as fact.
There is no one else on this planet that is just like you – that has your unique skill set. There is a beautiful woman that I work with that is so artistically gifted. She can paint and draw, play guitar and write songs. Her personal style is unique and always done up with a little flare. I can’t be her. I don’t have that particular skill set – I can’t draw, I can’t paint – I’m not artsy. But I have skills that are uniquely mine and she would have a hard time trying to be me.
A decade or so ago a documentary called The Secret came out. It was a global phenomenon. It taught us that we needed to keep our thoughts positive, to keep our minds on what we want and off of the things we don’t want. It was a global awakening and it shifted the way we perceived our environment, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Anita Moorjani had stage four cancer. She had tumors the size of grapefruits throughout her body, she weighed 86 pounds and her organs had shut down. She slipped into a coma and the doctors told her family that her time was near. In her book, Dying to be Me, she describes that when she was in her coma she felt her consciousness expanding. She said she could feel what her family was feeling and hear what the doctors were saying down the hall. She felt so peaceful and enveloped in so much love. There was no judgment and she didn’t have to be anything or do anything that the love was all around her. She felt the presence of her father and best friend that had passed years before. She had to choose whether, or not to go back to her body, but she understood that it wasn’t yet her time. The message that her loved ones gave her was that thinking positively wasn’t enough. She had to stop living in fear and be who she was born to be. That she was good enough and that she had to go back and live her life fearlessly. Three weeks after she came out of her coma, the cancer had left her body completely.
The message here is that being unapologetically, fiercely, authentically you is all that you have to be. It’s all you ever have to be. You were born good enough. It is your birthright. I believe that this is the next step in our global, spiritual awakening, embracing our uniqueness and being happy and joyful, living authentic lives.
Signs that you are not living an authentic life:
Harboring feelings that you aren’t good enough.
Believing that you don’t deserve good treatment, love, happiness or abundance.
Not listening to your own voice.
Making yourself feel small, so that others can feel big.
Pretending to be someone you are not.
Trying to please others all or most of the time, while ignoring your own needs and wants.
Allowing fear to stop you from doing things that make you happy.
Walking blindly through life not knowing who you are, or what you want.
Not recognizing your own skills and talents.
Accepting less than you deserve.
Not speaking up for yourself and allowing others to mistreat you.
In this life we all get to contribute a verse in life’s history book. What will your verse say? Who are you? What are your special gifts and talents? What can you do and contribute to make this world a better place?
I took off my self-loathing cloak a long time ago and I threw it away, determined to stop it from being passed down to anymore generations of my family. It’s time you took off your cloak and embraced who you truly are. You are so special and unique – there is only one of you in the whole world. You are a rare gem and you cheat yourself and the world by not being you. Come on, let’s pull up a chair to the table of life’s feast and throw back the crumbs. Let’s pile our plates high and dig in. And we’re having cake too.
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