Extreme Esteem: How to discover you are enough

“All we have to do is forgive ourselves wholly and

completely for ever thinking that we are not enough!”

– Jodi Aman, American author, speaker and psychotherapist

“I’m so stressed,” he said, taking off his glasses and rubbing his temples. “There’s too much going on right now and it’s all getting away from me – too much and not enough.”

“Help me understand,” I said. “The job and the demands are too much?”

“That’s part of it,” he responded. “It’s too much and I’m not enough.”

I was having coffee with a friend who felt utterly overwhelmed by work. Moreover, the challenge was hurting his self-esteem. He was beginning to question his skills and abilities – starting to think he was far less capable than he had first imagined. More than that, he was beginning to doubt his self-worth, thinking he was no longer good enough.

When it comes to our self-esteem, it’s important to remember that – as people – we are enough. What does that mean? It means that we don’t need to feel unworthy, invalid, unacceptable or undeserving of love, happiness and success. We already have what we need to feel gratitude and love for our being. It’s woven into our nature.

It’s interesting to note how quickly and often how inaccurately we compare ourselves to others, especially in times of stress, and how quickly we can start telling ourselves that we’re not enough. Sometimes, as with my friend, we take on more than we can realistically handle and become overwhelmed. When we begin to falter, we begin to believe ourselves inadequate, not just in our job skills but as human beings. We start to believe that we are not enough.

I speak from experience when I say it’s easy to believe you’re not enough. Despite having written hundreds of columns on self-esteem, a best-selling self-help book on the theme, conducted workshops and spoken to dozens of groups and organizations, there are still times when I feel as though I’m not enough. Over time, however, I’ve learned some techniques that have helped me get back on track and to realize, despite thoughts to the contrary, I am worthy.

Understand that automatic thoughts (like “I’m not enough”) are not always accurate.

Acknowledge your thoughts, instead of trying to ignore or downplay them.

Sense and feel – notice how negative thoughts affect your mood and body.

Think of negative thoughts as mind and body pollutants not to be harboured.

Put on a happy face. This may sound trite or overly simplistic, but when you smile and step forward confidently, even though you may feel anything but, a shift begins to happen in your mind and body. Though initially, you may think that you’re just faking it, before long, you’ll start to feel more positive and more hopeful. There’s some value in faking it until you make it.

Your self-worth needs to be nourished just like any other living thing. Stress, anxiety, depression and a sense that you’re not enough rob that nourishment from your hopes, dreams and self-esteem. You are the caretaker – you are the one responsible for planting good (thought) seeds and watering them with patience, perseverance and gratitude.

“What do you believe about who you are?” asked Gina Greenlee, American best-selling author. “About your capabilities? When was the last time you trusted yourself enough to test them?” Those are great questions – an excellent way to discover that you are enough.

Does “enough” mean that we’re perfect and can now relax and sip mint juleps? No, far from it. When it comes to work, we should always be striving to become more skilled and capable. When it comes to our self-esteem, we should always be striving to be more open, honest, truthful, authentic, connected, intentional and purposeful. These are all expressions of enough-ness and aspects of our true nature.

Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert.

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