Dealing with Feelings of Inadequacy: You are Enough

I am enough. The yoga instructor announced the affirmation for the day’s class, which we were to repeat to ourselves. The words flung open the doors of my soul, greeted me, pulled up a chair and got comfortable. Three small but powerful words; they resonated deep, within me. I repeated them to myself as I continued with my efforts of breathing deeply, while carefully following the instructions for the next pose. That is, breathing from my diaphragm, not the shallow breathing I often do from my chest, while unconsciously restricting my breath. Which is as if I am waiting for the next shoe to drop or for the monster that is waiting in the closet to jump out at any minute. Notice I said efforts, it is not always easy. Even after my practice ended, I continued to repeat the words to myself.  I still repeat them to myself regularly. I even wrote them on a piece of paper and stuck it on the wall above my desk. I am enough!

In the rat race of life, the demands placed on us by ourselves and by others can leave us feeling like we are not enough. Everyone including ourselves want more from us. Under the pressure of these demands for more, and challenges in meeting them, feelings of inadequacy show up. Often sweeping in like raging flood waters, eroding our self-confidence, creating doubt in our minds and knocking the wind out of us. These feelings are fierce, never subtle, never kind.  But here’s the good news, these feelings of inadequacy, are LIES! You are enough! You are mortal, you are not superhuman and you have done all that is in your power to do. Remind yourself, say to yourself, so that you hear and feel the words rolling off your tongue, I am enough.

Just as our faces differ so too does our level of capability. Do not judge your level of output by someone else’s level of output. No two people are alike and neither are their circumstances. The person by whose standards you are judging yourself has different capabilities than you, a different background to you, they were brought up differently, they have different family dynamics, different life circumstances and experiences, you get the picture.  They are different, they are not you, the variables are not the same. So therefore you cannot judge yourself based on their level of output.  Let us repeat our affirmation again, I am enough.

We all Have Limitations

Photo by Santiago Lacarta on Unsplash

I believe that understanding and accepting our limitations is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.  It is one of the best ways to counteract feelings of inadequacy. Accepting our limitations is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of wisdom and of strength. It means that we are able to step away from our prideful egos. By accepting our limitations, we are able to limit the insane number of demands we place on ourselves or that we accept from others. It also means that we know when to ask for help, and we ask for that help when we need it. It means that we have chosen to be truthful to ourselves about ourselves, which can be so liberating. Freeing ourselves from a lie can feel like lifting a heavy load from our chests, a load that is threating to suffocate us. Accepting our limitations helps relieve the pressure to be perfect at everything all the time, and does a world of good for our overall mental health. Understanding and accepting our limitations is a sign of self-knowledge and a marker for personal growth. As you accept and acknowledge your limitations, say to yourself, I am enough.

On the flip side of this coin, is understanding that our limitations do not prevent us from performing at our best and being the person we were called to be. Our limitations should not make us feel inadequate. Unfortunately, they often do. Being limited in one area does not disqualify us from being our best selves. It does not disqualify us from the love and grace of God and it certainly should not disqualify us from the love of those around us and love for ourselves. Lately I have been meditating on the experience of Moses. Moses felt inadequate for the job that God had called him to perform. He felt inadequate because he was not an eloquent speaker. So intense was his feeling of inadequacy that he asked God to send someone else. In response, God sent Aaron to be his mouthpiece. In spite of his limitation, God provided him with what he needed to be who God called him to be for the children of Israel.

The most exciting part, was that God also used what Moses had in his hand. God used his own capabilities. “What is that in your hand?” God asked him. “A rod”, he replied. (Exodus 4:2) He had a piece of stick in his hand and God used that stick to perform miracles through Moses, therefore delivering an entire nation. It is important that we know what our capabilities and gifts are, and that we work in our areas of gifting. When we do not know what our gifts are, we are more likely to pursue things that are outside of our gifting, thereby increasing feelings of frustration and inadequacy when we encounter challenges.  It does not matter what your limitation is, “what is that in your hand?” What is your capability? What is your gift? Whatever it is, God can use it. You are not inadequate. Let us say our affirmation one more time, I am enough.

Practice Self-compassion

Photo by Hanna Skoromna on Unsplash

Another great way to counteract feelings of inadequacy is to practice self-compassion. The word compassion is a combination of the words com which means ‘with’ and passion which means to ‘suffer’. Therefore, compassion means to suffer with. Think about the compassion you would show to a friend or loved one who is having a tough time. You would show them love and speak kind and encouraging words to them, won’t you? We find it easy to show compassion to those around us, but often find it difficult to treat ourselves with the same compassion. Instead, we engage in negative self-talk, criticizing, ridiculing and judging ourselves. We tend to be unnecessarily hard on ourselves which only serves to fuel our feelings of inadequacy.

So what does self-compassion look like? According to Dr. Kristen Neff who is the author of the book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, self-compassion has 3 elements. Self-kindness, which is being kind to ourselves when we suffer, fail or feel inadequate. Common humanity, which is the understanding that suffering and feelings of inadequacy is part of the shared human experience and not something that happens to just ‘me’ alone. Mindfulness, which means that we take a balanced approach to negative feelings and emotions. This way we neither suppress nor exaggerate negative feelings and emotions. It does not serve us in any way to ignore our suffering, but neither does it serve us to be overly immersed in it to the point where negativity engulfs our lives. From author Brene´ Brown I learned that compassion recognizes that the human experience is imperfect. Practicing self-compassion helps to reassure us that we are enough. Yes, this is where you repeat our affirmation once again, I am enough!

Wrapping it Up…

Life can be pretty challenging, pulling us in many different directions while demanding that we are perfect at everything. Particularly if you are female, you are somehow expected to be superhuman. In our efforts to live up to these demands we can begin to buy into this concept of superhuman and the need for perfection, thereby ignoring our limitations and experiencing unnecessary feelings of doubt and inadequacy.  I encourage you to understand and accept your limitations, with the confidence that it does not disqualify you from the love of God and others, and does not hinder you from walking in your purpose, utilizing your gifts and becoming your best self. I also encourage you to be patient with yourself and make self-compassion a daily practice. Show the same compassion to yourself that you would show to friends and loved ones.

I leave with you this wonderful quote from the book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene´ Brown.

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It is about cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”

Feelings of doubt and inadequacy is a LIE. The truth, You are enough!

You may also like this post: Overcoming Self-Doubt

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Namaste ~ 🙏

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1 Comment

  1. wonderful reminders to keep our mental health in check

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