How do I know if I'm enough?
To me, this questions feels a lot like asking, "How do you know if you're in love?" The answer is: you just know.
For so many of us, we walk through each day wondering if we're good enough, but I would guess that it hasn't always been that way for you.
At one point, you were a blissful little one, and you were totally fine with asking questions, not knowing things, and being buck naked in public. Then, someone taught your that these things are "bad." Someone struggling with their own enoughness around competence, or worthiness, or body image pushed their coping mechanisms on you and had you pipe down, or put on clothes, or chided you for being brazen in a way that reminded them that they didn't feel good enough.
Your enoughness was overwhelming.
And as kids, we're so open and intent on learning how to be in this world that we take these messages at face value from people we trust. And over time, these messages are reinforced over and over and over by well meaning teachers, family members, friends, and bosses, and solidified through billions of dollars of marketing suggesting that if you buy this anti-aging cream at the lowlow cost of $79.99, you will be young! and beautiful! and your partner won't cheat on you!!!!!
You were enough then, and you knew it.
You are enough now, you're just distracted.
I'd argue that the gold isn't in admitting to yourself that you're enough, the trick is in unlearning the message that you aren't enough.
There are several ways we learn these messages. Here are just a few:
- Parents passing down what they know.
- Family members trying to protect you, and make sure you fit in.
- Teachers trying to make sure you'll be successful in the only way they know how.
- The diet and fitness industry only survives when you feel fat - they get to swoop in, shame your lack of "willpower", and sell you the solution. They spend billions making you feel bad.
- The beauty industry thrives off sales from you feeling old and ugly. They also spend billions making you feel bad.
- Capitalism thrives when you define yourself by your work and productivity levels, and always want more stuff. This is reinforced by companies everywhere, and bosses doing the dirty work.
- Patriarchy requires women to feel less than, to have fewer rights, less pay, and to not demand more. This is reinforced in social institutions, religion, gender-role expectations, and more.
When we're faced with a barrage of this messaging, it becomes easy to forget our innate enoughness. Demystifying how we came to this place is a huge first step. When we understand what everyone else gets from our feelings of unworthiness, it's like pulling back the curtains on the Wizard. We see it for what it is - a total sham.
You are enough. You have always been enough. You will always be enough.
Next time you're wondering, though (because we're human, and that's what we do)... try this:
- List out one way you feel "not enough." And yes, just one. Start small.
- Ask yourself: Where did you learn this?
- Ask yourself: Who benefits from me feeling this way?
One by one, we can demystify and reject each message and return to the place of inner knowing that we are enough, and feel what it feels like to be enough.
Do you remember the first time you felt like you weren't enough? What was happening?