Maybe the thought is conscious, sitting right there front and center.
Or maybe it’s buried, and only occasionally it peeks out. Even then you might not recognize it for what it is – self-doubt, self-loathing, maybe even self-hatred at times.
There are plenty of times that I catch myself using self-deprecating humor or talking down to myself. Would I ever talk to a friend that way? Never! But I’m the first to criticize when I do something wrong or if something doesn’t go the way I thought it would.
I’m working on that.
Sometimes these limiting thought patterns feel so much a part of us that we feel like we can never fix them – like we’re stuck in them forever and there’s nothing we can do, or even like our lives just aren’t going right.
Maybe you think your job is terrible and until that’s fixed you’ll never get on the right track, or you’re stuck in a relationship that drives you crazy, but you can’t seem to move out of it.
Whatever it is, the feeling of stuck-ness can keep you feeling like something’s really wrong.
And that keeps you living in the future, waiting for things to get better, instead of living now – where life actually exists.
It happens to all of us.
So here’s the real question: what are the beliefs that keep us trapped in feeling not good enough, and how can we break through them?
Limiting Beliefs That Stop You From Feeling Good Enough
1. Someone Else is Better Than Me:
Maybe you tried something and realized that you weren’t great at it. Or maybe you didn’t even try because you already knew it was going to look like an elephant trying to do ballet.
Even if you’re really, really good at something, you might still worry about it because someone else is better than you. In fact, you might worry about it more – because then it matters.
But you know what?
There’s only one person on the top of the pyramid for whatever game you’re playing. Someone is better than everyone except for the very best.
There’s always room for improvement.
2. I Will Never Improve/Get This Right:
Never is a hella long time. Sure, maybe it will take you a while. But never? Probably not. Unless you give up.
Which begs the question – how much do you really care about improving or getting it right?
Because if you’re anything like almost everyone I know, you think about and work on and prioritize things you actually don’t care that much about because you think you should or because you believe they are important to other people.
Maybe you think you should know more about history or politics or movies. . . but does any of that actually matter to you?
If the answer is no – you know what to do. But if you do care, then you do have the ability to improve.
Most of the time, you should set your expectations to a reasonable level and focus on what you need to do every day to get there. How far and how fast you go doesn’t have to have an impact on your self esteem.
You can run a marathon by training a mile at a time, and you can be a runner if you never choose to run a marathon in your life.
But you also have to take into account big dreams and doing more than you thought you could and living up to your true potential. Never sell yourself short either.
3. I Should
I should holds a lot of us back.
It steals from us in a couple of ways.
First, it sets us on a path toward something we don’t want to do but feel we have to, robbing us of our happiness, energy and joy.
And as if that’s not enough, it also steals our time.
Time away from what we really wanted to be doing in the first place (even if we didn’t know what that was.)
Maybe you were staying late when you wanted to be at your kid’s game.
Maybe you were helping out on a project when you wanted to speak up and take the team in a different direction.
Maybe you were assisting when you wanted to be directing.
Whatever the situation, I’m sure you can think of something in your life where you were doing something you thought you should be doing, but you really wanted to be doing something else. Not just something more fun, but something more authentic, something more connected to who you are – and doing what you should held you back.
Can you think of a time?
I should is about learning to say no, but it’s also about learning to say yes. No to things you don’t want in your life, and yes to allowing the things that you do.
4. Failure is Bad
There’s been a lot out there lately that talks about how it’s ok to fail and make mistakes. That it’s even essential to success. If you haven’t read anything about that, then you seriously need to read this article about success and failure here.
But even if you have read about it before and are familiar with the concept, I just want to stress the point.
Because even if you know that failure is essential on one level, there’s still probably a part of you that cringes every time you do something wrong. Or a part that is less-than-thrilled to talk about your latest failure at a cocktail party.
My point is, you – like the rest of us – still have some work to do when it comes to embracing your failures as experiments. So the next time you fail, play with the idea and see what it feels like to think about it differently.
5. There’s Nothing I Can Do
Many times we get stuck and think that there is nothing we can do about a situation, but this isn’t true.
There might be nothing we can immediately think of to do. In which case we should go and ask other people for ideas and suggestions.
There might be nothing that we care to do. In which case we should let it, and the emotions around it go as best we can.
There might be nothing we want to do, given the consequences of those actions. And then we can say that we’ve already made the best choice we can.
But really, you always have a choice.
Sometimes, people feel trapped by other people’s drama and say “There’s nothing I can do.” When you decide which of the statements above you actually mean, you can be empowered to do something different.
6. I Can’t
I can’t sits in your mind and prevents you from even trying new things. It stops you from trying public speaking, getting out on the dance floor or applying for that new job.
“I can’t” is all about keeping you small and stopping you from feeling good enough.
What kills “I can’t”?
The experience of “I can.” The problem is, sometimes we fail (which is part of the learning process and totally ok), but because we’re so ready to kick ourselves in the teeth, we slink away because we believe we just proved ourselves right – we really can’t and we knew it.
So how do you get out of this loop?
One way is to practice tiny experiments.
If you feel like you can’t cook, don’t set out to cook a gourmet meal for 25 guests and then berate yourself for messing it up.
Start with breakfast for yourself.
If you feel like you can’t talk to strangers or network well, challenge yourself to something small, like sitting with a new group at lunch – not plunging in to a huge networking event without bringing a friend.
Basically, set yourself up for success, and know that you are going to fail, just like everyone else did in the beginning.
As you gain confidence, eventually you’ll feel like you can do the things you could’t before. You’ll be empowered to learn and grow from the situation and take on even bigger challenges in the future.
7. It Matters What Other People Think
How hung up do you get on what other people think? While most of us care at least some, and conform to the norms generally, some people are so worried about what other people think that it gets in the way of their lives and happiness.
If you have trouble making choices that feel right for you because you’re worried what other people might say, do or think, this is for you.
I’ve talked to many clients who have been held back from making their career change because of what others thought.
One stands out in particular. She was a brilliant, well-educated woman, and while her parents wanted her to grow up and be a lawyer so that she would always be able to take care of herself financially, she hated it from day 1 of law school. Eventually, she was able to let go of what her parents wanted for her and could focus on what she – now in her late 40’s – wanted for herself.
How much are you letting other people’s opinions shape your life?
Take a look at what you want and what other people are wanting for you. Even if their intentions are good, they don’t get to make decisions for you.
8. It’s Too Late
Is this limiting belief holding you back and stopping you from feeling good enough to go after what you really want?
Maybe you think it’s too late to change careers and you should just ride out your bad job until retirement, and then do what you love.
Maybe you think it’s too late to find love.
Maybe you think it’s too late to travel, get in shape or learn a language.
Whatever you dreamed about that didn’t happen, whatever you want in your life that isn’t there, can be.
You have to challenge yourself to try.
Are you ready?
Busting Through Limiting Beliefs and Feeling Good Enough
Feeling good enough takes work, but the first step is to identify what’s happening that is making you feel less-than.
Because it’s really all in your mind. Sure, you might have strengths and weaknesses. Welcome to the club. It’s called Being Human.
But there’s certainly nothing about you that makes you an overall inferior human being. So your job is to identify what’s limiting you and really question the belief and its power over you.
Sit with the feeling you have when it comes up, and watch that feeling fade as you really become aware of it.
You can move through these beliefs and move toward your goals, whether they are tiny or so big that you’re afraid to say them out loud.
The only way to really get there is to feel like you deserve a seat at the party.