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When Will I Feel I Am "Enough?"

: Practical Tools for Self-Acceptance

How many ways can we phrase this, feel this, or embody this? There is a path that leads us to the feeling of "I am enough," but do you actually know when you get there? There are so many phrases and mindsets that keep us looking ahead and don't encourage us to pause and be in the moment.

  • Always do your best.

  • Keep going, you can do it.

  • Climbing up the ladder of success.

  • Don't ever stop.

  • Don't give up.

  • I know I can do better.

  • One more time.

  • Is this all you got?

Instead of focusing on all the ways we convince ourselves we aren't enough, aren't doing enough, or will never be enough, I want to focus on when we are enough. This topic came directly from a session I had with a client this week. The idea was if I do "X" then I am less of a person. If I am less of a person, then I mean less to my partner. If I am less than to my partner, what will they think of me? And so the story started. Thoughts get wound up and tangled, and an exit can seem hard to find.

I am not trying to oversimplify this topic, yet there are some direct questions you can ask yourself to check in with yourself, "Is this enough now?"

Practical Tools for Self-Acceptance

Celebrate Your Wins with Intention

Ask yourself: What positive or happy feelings is this bringing me? Am I actually internalizing them or passing by at 100mph on to the next thing?

A key piece to note here is if you slow down, take your foot off the gas a bit, and take in your success, goodness, love, or whatever happened in your life, do so with INTENTION.

Repeat after me: "I deeply appreciate ______________.

Reflecting on this makes me feel ___________________.

I can see the success (or whatever it is) change my life in this way." Absorb the good into your body and be mindful when you talk yourself out of appreciation.

Question the Necessity of Constant Movement

Ask yourself: Do I believe that I honestly have to be moving ahead at all times? If so, what will happen if I cruise at this speed and take what's happening in a little more?

Examine the driving force of this belief and see how it has worked for you in the past. This isn't about motivation, which is necessary and valid. This is a long pause, in a quiet mind, with your body relaxed, reflecting to see if you can be mindful of each step along the way. The steps are what get us there.

Reevaluate Your Perception of Others' Views

Ask yourself: Do I believe that those around me see my flaws and insecurities exactly the way I see them? If not, why do I continually project them onto others?

This is one of the favorite inner critic strategies. If you don't like something about yourself, if you did it wrong, if you are still learning, or are embarrassed about your shortcomings, you might believe those around you see it too. Remember, they aren't inside your head! You haven't asked them what they're thinking or how they perceive you. If you value someone's point of view, ask them. You may learn more about yourself, your actions, or even areas of improvement.

Accept Compliments and Positivity

Ask yourself: How often do I take in others' compliments, accolades, positivity, or love for me without qualifying it? If I stop my inner dialog and take what they are saying as true, what does that feel like?

This is a common experience. Many people feel uncomfortable accepting positive feedback. One way to frame this is: "I would like to take a moment to hear their words in my own voice a few times." When alone, repeat what you heard them say. Better yet, say it in the mirror. We hear our internal dialog all day, but hearing words spoken can hit differently. Next, answer yourself aloud, "What makes me doubt what they are saying?" Explore your barriers or limited beliefs.

Consider the Whole Picture

Ask yourself: How often do I take in the whole picture and process instead of focusing on the little action that felt bad? Do I need to blow it out of proportion?

Context matters. Start from the beginning of the process and walk yourself through it. Even if you had a setback or made a mistake, how did that influence the process? Look at your efforts, thought processes, planning, agenda, successes, try-agains, interactions and outcomes with others. If you dwell on the 10% struggle and ignore the 90% growth or learning, it will feel like you're not enough. How much of the process can you actually be happy with or proud of? Let that sink in!

Practice Self-Compassion

Ask yourself: How often does your inner critic or not enough part take over with criticism? Do you pause and make room for compassion, care, curiosity or hope?

Treat yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support you would offer a good friend. Self-compassion involves recognizing that everyone makes mistakes and experiences setbacks. It's about understanding that imperfection is part of the human experience. Would you ever say all the critical or mean things to anyone else that you say to yourself?

Set Realistic Goals

Ask yourself: How realistic are my goals? Am I pushing myself too hard or asking more than I can do right now? If so, what is motivating that?

Setting goals that are attainable and realistic helps in avoiding the trap of perfectionism. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks. Sometimes the "big picture" can be overwhelming. Helping yourself through this process could mean finishing one piece, reflecting on this, then starting the next piece.

Seek Support

Surround yourself with positive influences. Seek out friends, family, or support groups that uplift and encourage you. Sometimes, talking to a therapist or counselor can provide additional strategies and support for improving self-acceptance and combating negative self-talk.

Create a Self-Appreciation Journal

Keep a journal where you regularly write down things you appreciate about yourself. This can include accomplishments, qualities you admire, and positive feedback you’ve received. Reflecting on these entries can boost your self-esteem and remind you of your worth. Personally I have kept a gratitude journal for 6 years and everyday I write one thing I am thankful for. Sometimes it's about me, and often it's about others. No matter what it is, it softens my heart and allows me to appreciate my life more fully.

Feeling like you are enough will be personal, very much depending on what is happening in your life. However, if you are stuck in the inner critic loop and can't get out, it may take a real leap to jump out of the cycle—a leap way out, a hundred yards out! Step out and look through a broader lens, one of self-compassion, grace, inclusivity of all factors, and see where you are. I bet you'll be surprised with what you see.

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