I’ve probably written about this before, but another blog post sparked my interest in it again, and I think it’s an important enough topic to bring up more than once. Craig Harper calls it “I’m-not-good-enough-itis,” whereas I’ve always referred to it as the “enough factor.”
From Craig’s blog:
If you don’t know already, I’ll tell you now: you were born good enough. It’s only your thinking, beliefs and fear that get in the way. Naturally, we all have strengths, weaknesses and flaws but the underlying question we seem to want answered is not really, ‘am I good enough to do A, B or C?’ but rather, ‘am I (me, the person) good enough in general? This kind of common thinking and self-doubt speaks to our sense of unworthiness and insecurity. For a range of reasons, many of us seem to live with an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy.
Personally, this is something that I’ve struggled with my entire life. In search of that assurance that just being myself is good enough, I’ve tried to get there through A, B, and C… getting good grades, having a good job, always behaving, never asking for anything, and trying to screw up as little as possible. However, none of these accomplishments have ever helped me with that inferiority complex. In fact, they probably set me back, because I could rationalize that I’m only accepted because I’m doing enough. If I weren’t, then others wouldn’t care. There wouldn’t be a reason to care.
It’s amazing how many people I’ve met in treatment who struggle with the same thing — especially since they are such amazing people that it’s hard to watch them hurt themselves. It’s part of the eating disorder, self-injury, anxiety and depression, PTSD… and I could go on and on. There’s this constant questioning of yourself: is my trauma significant enough to count as trauma? Am I think or sick enough to deserve treatment? Am I struggling enough that I’m worth being taken care of?
What Craig says about being born good enough is absolutely true… but I think that really what it comes down to is learning to trust yourself and your own experience of reality. I get stuck in this world of “what is objectively enough?” How do I know for real if my trauma counted, my eating disorder is really an eating disorder, etc. I want the objective criteria sitting in my hands so that I know for sure. Otherwise, maybe I’m just making it up. Because I don’t feel like I can trust myself, I don’t feel like I have an accurate grasp on the world. Screw MY experience of reality — I want to know what THE REAL reality is.
Once I explained this to my therapist, and she said the “enough factor” was scary… because nothing was ever enough, and I could continue in a downward spiral without ever really hitting that bottom (I’ll write about bottoms someday, but I don’t exactly believe in “rock bottom.”). I understand what she’s saying… it’s just hard to put all the pieces together in my mind, let alone ACT accordingly!
My take away message from this is: the more that I try and be enough, the less I feel that just being me is okay and good enough in general. You have to screw up sometimes, be vulnerable, and let others in to learn that you ARE lovable and that you are worth everything. Otherwise, you’re going to keep rationalizing that you’re only okay because you are doing everything “right.” Try doing something wrong and relying on someone — that’s the only way you’re ever going to learn otherwise.