“Stop worrying about being good enough. You are good. And you are enough.”
Congratulations! You’ve arrived at the place where it is time to take your inner critic off the clock.
I’m not talking about your inner Wise-Her—she tells you things you need to know, like you really should check the air pressure in your tires before you get on the road. I’m talking about your Inner Harpy with her little negative barbs aimed squarely at your self-confidence. Like the Harpies of mythology, she is fierce, bad-tempered and relentless. She’s the one who makes you wonder if you’re good enough. By now her nagging little voice has been whispering bits and pieces of self doubt into your psychic ear for decades, so long in fact, that at this juncture it seems like harmless white noise—you aren’t even aware of her presence any more. But she’s anything but harmless and she needs to go. Now.
Your Inner Harpy probably uttered her first words back when you were a little girl and she was just a little Harpy in Training (H.I.T.). You hadn’t begun to “develop” yet—as they used to say, much less develop any anti-Harpy skills. So she went to work on your young, defenseless, happy little self. “How come you don’t have a Barbie book bag?” (Translation: The CUTE girls all have Barbie book bags while you have the practical blue one your mother insisted would last a couple of years.) “Why don’t you have streamers on your bike?” (Translation: But even if you get streamers what if they’re not the right color?) “Only a B in geography?” (Translation: Not quite as smart as Melissa huh?) “If you could jump higher you would have made the volleyball team.” (Translation: You’re too tall/short/fat/awkward— what ever gave you the idea you could be an athlete?)
And there you are, all of eight or nine years old and already the seeds of insecurity, of not being good enough are starting to germinate, and you don’t even know it.
The persistent little H.I.T. was good at her job and you weren’t trained to deflect her slings and arrows—so she grew stronger. By the time you were in your teens, traveling the harrowing hallways of high school, when the desire to fit in is at its most virulent, your Harpy really came into her own.
You name the area of vulnerability and she found a way to attack you there. Her voice became insistent, shrill, unrelenting and far more direct than it had ever been before. Her words poked whatever spot was most tender and she reminded you in a non-stop barrage that you were not smart enough, pretty enough, tall enough, skinny enough, curvy enough, popular enough. Others were. You were not. It didn’t matter WHAT they were that you were not. Whatever it was, they possessed, in abundance, all the qualities that you lacked. Tsk. Tsk. How sad. Too bad for you.
And so the plague begins. Its most telling symptom is unconscious comparison—almost always to other women. We compare ourselves to our friends, sisters, mothers, cousins, co-workers, neighbors, strangers, bosses, movie stars, and sadly even to our daughters. Sometimes we know we’re doing it, but mostly we’re unaware of how many times a day we think of ourselves in terms of how we measure up to someone else, or someone else’s expectations. Those expectations are, more often than not, a presumption on our part—because if we don’t think we’re good enough, how can anyone else possibly miss the bright flashing neon marquee on our forehead announcing our long list of shortcomings to all the world? Believe me, despite the fact that it blinds YOU nearly every time you look at yourself, THEY don’t see it until you point it out. Why? Because they’re far too busy worrying if you are scrutinizing their list of personal inadequacies.
Now of course I’m not saying we’re all perfect—far from it. And I’m not advocating the “good enough for government work” standard here. Nor am I endorsing complacency or mediocrity as acceptable. We should all try to improve, to be the best we can be—to live the best lives we possibly can. But what that best is should not be determined by a comparison to an unfair and often impossible to achieve standard we have imposed on ourselves.
It’s time to stop being so self-critical. Give yourself some slack.
You know, or you should know, there will always be someone more beautiful, smarter, thinner, richer. And she may even appear more successful and happier, but so what? What she has or is, in no way adds to, or diminishes you. And you my friend, with your flaws, blemishes, frailties and peccadilloes are good enough.
1) The next time you go to the movies, buy yourself a BIG box of Good & Plenty. You remember the Day-Glo pink, and white candy from days of yore? ChooChoo Charlie and that train? They may even still sell it in stores, but the movies are probably a pretty good source.
2) Put the Good & Plenty wherever you keep your vitamins and have one piece every day along with your multi-vitamin. Even if the black licorice flavor isn’t to your liking, eat it anyway. This isn’t candy, or dessert. It’s to remind you that not only are you good enough–you are good. AND you are enough.
3) If you’re not convinced when the box is finished. Buy another one.