The "not good enough" trap
Updated: Jun 23
I was watching stand-up comedian, Ronny Chieng, on Netflix the other day. He made a joke about how all Chinese parents want their kids to be a doctor because they can change their fate in one generation. If their kids work hard and strive at all cost, they will have a prestigious job that pays lots of money. It made me think about my brothers and me. None of us is a doctor or a lawyer, but does that mean that we are "not good enough" or "failed in life"?
Click here to watch a short clip from the Netflix show:
As a stay-at-home mother, I sometimes go through these waves of "I'm not good enough". I started questioning why I go through the thought of not being worthy. Is it because I do not have a full-time paying job? Is my self-worthiness based on my lack of a job title? Will going back to work and having a job title make me feel "good enough"? Or is it because I do not have much money in my account? Will I feel like "I am good enough" if I had a million dollars?
Some of us are trapped in this loop that we are not good enough, that we will never be "good enough". That we will only feel "good enough" if we have the dream career, the dream partner, the dream family, the dream body etc. All of which are based on external validation of oneself. Seeking validation from others. With social media, it makes it even more accessible these days to get temporary validation from others with every "Like". We seek approval that we are doing well in life, that we are doing the right thing or commendable thing.
After some years of realisation, I begin to see that I need to address my feeling of worthiness. It has to do with me not feeling worthy from the inside, therefore seeking it from the outside. I believe it began since I was young, first from my parents, mostly my mother. It started when I was in primary school. I would come home with results like 98/100, and she would say, "Why did you not get full marks? Next time, you must do better!" I felt like I needed to have good grades to win my mother's love and attention. The whole time in school, whatever I did was never good enough for my mother because she would always pinpoint my faults instead of celebrating my wins.
Even last year, when I went back to Singapore to visit her, she never once said that she was proud of me for being a mother. Instead, she pointed out the most obvious thing about me, which was my post-pregnancy weight. I come to a sad realisation that I can never win with my mother. It also made me aware that I was still seeking validation from my mother, even at my age! This made me think hard about my past validations. Either from friends, past boyfriends or colleagues. Why does it matter to me to be liked? To feel like I matter. To feel like I am good enough to others.
What happens if I believe and I mean, wholeheartedly believe, that wherever I am in my life, I AM WORTHY now. What if I fully embrace the fact that being a mother is a vital role in the world that not all every woman gets to experience. That nothing, not even a job title or money, can make me feel worthy or "good enough" from the outside.
I am fully aware that I need to make the switch in my head that I am "good enough". This will take a lot of re-wiring of my brain to set new paths of thinking, and I am working towards that every single day through awareness and mindfulness practices.
In recent years, I found a way to quiet down the "I'm not good enough" voice in my head, and it is through meditation. I am not saying that I do not hear the "I'm not good enough" voice in the head anymore. As I said earlier, I still go through waves of it. The difference is that I am now aware of it, and therefore can actively choose to engage with the voice or turn it down.
Another thing that I realize is that I need to cut down on my social media use. As much as I like social media and its sense of community spirit, one of the negative things that come out of it is that I tend to compare my life with others. Yup, that is the honest truth. I hope by reducing my social media exposure, I will also reduce my feelings of unworthiness or not being good enough.
Do you ever feel like you are "not good enough"? I would love to hear about your experiences and what you do to overcome this thought.
Questions? Let me know in the comment section below.
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