Not Good Enough

Many of us have experienced this thought about ourselves at one time or another.  Anyone who has ever failed a test, disappointed someone in a relationship, “sinned” according to religious dogma, received a speeding ticket, or made a mistake has likely had this thought cross their mind.

While many people can adaptively process this thought in the brain through a deeper understanding like “I may have made a mistake, and I’m ok.”  Or “I can make better choices from this point forward.”  Others find themselves replaying the images, feelings, and thoughts revolving around the “mistake” over and over again, like a broken record on a loop.  In psychology, we call this ruminating.

Ruminating, or replaying things over and over again in the mind keeps people stuck in “freeze mode” or paralysis.  When we are stuck in freeze mode, we find ourselves on a slippery slope towards depression.  Over time, looping negative thoughts skew our perception of reality and change the way we think and believe about ourselves and others, which has a direct effect on our behavior.  These patterns can lead to low self-esteem, self-loathing, and self-destruction.

If we feel unhappy with thoughts or beliefs about ourselves, the wonderful news is- we can change!   Our brains are adaptive by nature and are wired to adapt or heal.  Sometimes our brains simply get stuck and need a boost to activate the digestion of information.  (The brain digests information like the stomach digests food.  When we are overstressed, overwhelmed, or experience trauma, our brains can get locked up and the information just kind of swirls around without going anywhere.  When this happens, we can become overly sensitive and become easily triggered by people, places, and situations).

One way to overcome negative thinking patterns like “I’m not good enough” is to participate in EMDR. EMDR therapy is a great way to process through unwanted thoughts, feelings/emotions, and body sensations.  EMDR activates the brain’s innate ability to digest information.  As it begins to digest difficult information, the brain reorganizes it and stores it adaptively, where it belongs, freeing a person to live and operate in the present moment, instead of based on past hurts and wounds.  EMDR therapy decreases physical sensitivity to triggers (including people, places, sights, smells, and sounds) as well.  This allows a person to orient to present moment focus, instead of consistently projecting past wounds into the present and future.

Another way to overcome negative thinking is to realize that at times, a change in perception is required.  Feeling not good enough decreases our self esteem and likely stems from old programming (in other words what we learned from other people in our lives…maybe we were told that repeatedly as a child for example, being called “bad”).  As parents, we must remember that we are nurturing the growth of our children (in mind, body, and spirit).  If we believe people are created in the image and likeness of a Source (God, Creator, etc), then no one is innately “bad”.  We may exhibit behaviors, those that people judge or qualify as “bad”, however that does not necessarily make anyone actually “bad” as a person.

Oftentimes a change or adjustment to our beliefs helps us to create a more stable and positive mindset.  One way to do that is to question our thoughts.  When we experience an unwanted or unhelpful thought, we can journal about or ask ourselves: Is this true?  Can I know with 100% certainty that this is true?  Challenge yourself to find the turnaround (or the opposing argument).  For example take the thought: “I am not good enough”.  I might write about what good enough means to me.  Who gets to determine what “goodness” is?  If I can name one good thing I have done, then that negates the thought.

It is my personal belief that we are all good in some way.  We can work to develop the understanding that no one outside of ourselves gets to dictate what is right for us.  Each person is the director in the play of life.  When we direct our attention to what we are doing right instead of what we are doing wrong, we can begin to experience more happiness and freedom.

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