12 Things to Do When You Think You’re Not Good Enough.
#4 Create a Personal Board of Directors.
As a coach, I’m often asked about the formula for self-confidence. If you dig a little deeper, the real question is, ‘How do I become comfortable in my own skin and know that I’m enough?’.
The starting point is to accept yourself unconditionally, which may not be what you want to hear because it feels pretty self-indulgent.
Self-acceptance is simply contentment in who you are right now. Even if you’re not where you think you should be financially, physically or whatever conditions you place on your self-worth.
I remember facing this dilemma many years ago. I knew my lack of unconditional self-acceptance was the obstacle between where I was and where I wanted to be. I worked with an incredible coach who reminded me that unconditional self-acceptance was missing in my life, and I needed to feel enough without external conditions.
I remember a conversation where I asked him for a bullet list of what I needed to do to achieve self-acceptance. My coach laughed at me, more out of disbelief that I was being serious.
He never gave me that list, but the good news is that I managed to figure it out independently. I want to share the advice I desperately needed at the time, and I feel humbled and grateful to share my experience with you. So here goes — the ultimate guide to self-acceptance and feeling enough:
Change usually happens at the crossroad of a crisis, a loss or a health challenge. You are out of options at that point, and change becomes a must.
Don’t wait for tragedy or illness to force you to the point of putting yourself first and making some much-needed changes.
If you want to get healthier, find a loving relationship, or go for the job you want — choose yourself as your why. When you make a change about someone else, it never lasts because the motivation wears off.
I had a client who went from doing zero exercise to running a 20km race because she agreed to sign up for a marathon to raise funds for her favourite charity. She dedicated her morning time before work to her training because she couldn’t let her team down.
After the race, she felt lost because the guilt of taking time to train just for her was too much. She hadn’t chosen herself as the why to continue her training; she didn’t need the charity race, but in her mind, this alleviated her guilt. Now that she was only running for herself, she didn’t know how to justify it.
Choosing yourself is not an indulgence but the commitment to yourself that you are worthy of the change, the action and the time you will commit to yourself.
Keep the promises you make to yourself.
You are fantastic at keeping the promises you make to other people, but when it comes to yourself, you tend to let yourself down.
How many times have you hit the snooze button instead of going for a walk? How often did you intend to do something for yourself but instead put other people’s urgencies ahead of your own?
Your self-confidence is directly proportional to the promises you keep for yourself. When you break the agreement with yourself, your self-worth is rattled.
What is one promise you can make to yourself today? Can you start walking twice a week? Can you listen to a guided meditation in the morning? Can you take twenty minutes to go and paint that picture you keep thinking about or even cook dinner twice a week?
It doesn’t matter what the promise is — what matters is that you begin to introduce things you enjoy into your week and show yourself with your actions that you matter enough to follow through.
Your intention to walk is not enough, keep the promise and take action. Even if it’s one squat, five minutes of stretching or reading one page of the book, it’s not about the quantity of time; it’s creating a ritual that builds your self-trust and self-respect.
Spend time alone.
When I question clients if they spend time alone, they say, of course — when they go to the gym or walk their dog. Yes, you are alone, but most likely, you are drowning out your thoughts with music or a podcast.
I am talking about carving out dedicated time in your calendar to journal and write about your goals, dreams, and what you want to create. This simple act is so kind because you allow yourself the space to dream and focus on what you want. Don’t let your mind censor you — create the possibility on paper, and then you can figure out how to approach it.
You’ll be amazed at what can show up on the page when you give your inner voice a platform to speak.
When you see yourself as your own best friend rather than someone you want to avoid, you create the opportunity to become comfortable in your own skin. As Wayne Dyer says:
“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”
Create a Personal Board of Directors.
Throughout my life, I have been blessed with incredible people who have helped me master various aspects of my life, not only my career.
My gym trainer is my CPO (chief physical officer), my meditation teacher is my CSO (chief spiritual officer) and so on. These special people come into your life and help you grow and create harmony across all areas of your life.
Is it a best friend, a teacher, or someone at work? If you lack in certain areas, source these experts to help develop the skills. Every time you master an aspect of your life, your confidence grows.
Your board of directors is about having people in your life who will push you to do more than you would on your own and who will believe in you when you cannot see what they do.
Sometimes it’s about having people who love you enough to call you on your stuff and hold up a mirror to a story holding you back. It’s not people who will break you but love you enough to tell you what you need to hear.
Speak nicely to yourself.
The conversations you have with yourself are the most important ones you will ever have. Take back your power by standing up to your inner critic and stop giving it power.
Your inner critic cannot be evicted, it is a permanent tenant, but you can manage it. Instead of fearing it and taking it seriously, create an animated character and give it a comical name like Benny the Bully. When he starts to pipe up after you did a presentation and tell you that you made a fool of yourself, tell him to go back to his cave. Don’t pay attention. The more you indulge him, the louder he becomes.
Tell yourself that you did a great job. You are enough. I love you and am proud of you — it will feel uncomfortable, but the more you speak these words, the more you speak your inner coach into existence. You always have a choice of who you are willing to give airtime to.
Adopt a learning mindset rather than a critical one. If you did fail or drop the ball, ask yourself what you can learn from it and what you will do differently next time.
Acknowledge your wins.
How about creating what Tim Ferriss calls ‘The Jar of Awesome’? Every time you achieve something like going for a walk or speaking up in a meeting, write it down and put it in your jar. When you feel down, or self-doubt creeps in, pull out a piece of paper and remind yourself of what you have achieved.
It may sound cheesy, but you quickly forget the good things and tend to magnify what you didn’t do well.
If you only give yourself credit for the big wins, you will find it difficult to truly appreciate them because you keep moving the goalposts to the next win. Acknowledging the small wins allows you to internalise who you are becoming on the journey so that when you get there, it feels real, and you know you are enough.
You don’t have inspiration; you generate it. The quickest way to boost yourself when you feel in a place of not being enough is to hear other people’s stories. When you understand success doesn’t happen overnight, and no one has it perfect, you find new internal strength.
We see the result of people’s success but don’t realise the struggles, self-doubt and failures that were part of the journey. Take JK Rowling, the billionaire author of the Harry Potter series. We just see the glory, but did you know 12 publishers rejected her before Harry Potter was published?
I’m pretty sure she felt not enough and like a downright failure. Hearing her tenacity and commitment to her dream has given me so much strength on the days I need it most.
Listen to audiobooks, podcasts or read about other people so you can get the complete perspective and fast-track the lessons from their experiences.
Aim for progress. Not Perfection.
One of my favourite writers is Niel Gaman; his philosophy is that every writer has a million bad words inside of them. You must first purge all a million bad words to get to the good drafts. When I started writing professionally, I was in full-blown imposter syndrome and feared I wasn’t enough.
I reinforced my story of not enough whenever I made an excuse or never took action to write. The way forward was to schedule time in my calendar and show up to write. It wasn’t about how many words I could achieve in the allotted block of time but about simply writing, showing up to my ideas (even the bad ones) and making progress. Was I better than yesterday? Have I improved since last month?
Reflecting on my first writing pieces, I only shared other people’s work because it was safe. With time, I started to write about my own experiences and guess what — the good stuff started to come.
When I replaced perfection with progress, I permitted myself to be imperfectly perfect.
What are you not showing up to for fear of not being perfect? How can you take one action today towards progress?
What are you not showing up to because your more significant fear is being seen? Know you are enough, and there is strength in your vulnerability.
Question your thoughts.
Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it’s true. Byron Katie says all sadness, anxiety and depression are caused by uninvestigated thinking.
Let’s say you think, ‘I’m not enough, or I’ll never achieve my dream’; you can either believe the thought or put it under enquiry. Take the thought through this process:
· Is it true? No
· Can you absolutely know it’s true? No
· How do you feel without the thought? Relieved, happy, grateful
· Who would you be without the thought? Content, confident, energised.
· Now turn it around — I am enough!
Turn the challenge around.
When you face a challenge, and the inner critic tells you you’re not good enough, retaliate with a better question.
If you are tasked with a daunting presentation, and it’s rattling your confidence, approach it by asking, ‘how can I make this more successful than I ever dreamed and have fun doing it?’.
Or if you start a new exercise program and there’s a specific exercise you hate because it challenges you, ask yourself, ‘how can I make this my strongest body part, or how can I make this my best exercise?
It’s not false positive thinking; it’s changing your mindset from hopelessness to possibility.
Remember, it’s not about being perfect; it’s making progress consistently over time until you achieve your goal.
Adopt an internal locus of control.
What is your benchmark for measuring success? The way to feel enough is to adopt an internal locus of control. This means your self-worth is internally generated; you don’t place conditions on how you are prepared to feel about yourself.
An external locus of control is when you place your self-worth on external factors you have zero control over. You do it all the time — you place your worth on numbers. The number on the scale, the number in your bank account, the number of friends or likes you have or the number of clients you have.
The self-talk goes, ‘If I have X amount of clients, I am worthy, or if I have X amount In my bank account, then I know I’m enough’. You have zero control over your external circumstances, and it will always feel like you’re chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. As you think you’re about to reach it, it moves away.
Even if you’re not where you want to be now, remember that self-acceptance is your passport to achieving your goals. You cannot begin the journey without it.
Make your mess your message.
What have you been through in your life that at the time felt insurmountable, but when you reflect on it, it has been your most outstanding teacher?
If you never had the experience, you wouldn’t be who you are today. Rather than feel insignificant because of the experience, embrace being the wounded teacher.
Make your mess your message — how can you share your experiences and help others fast-track the journey? How can your mistakes become someone else’s gift?
You don’t have to be perfect; you need to remember that there is strength in your vulnerability.
Give yourself permission.
If you haven’t mastered the first step of choosing yourself, you may default to what I call a permission device.
For some people, it’s a business partner, a certification, another course, a bank balance, or a number on the scale. These permission devices are external factors that provide a false sense of confidence.
Sometimes, it’s extreme where a person needs to experience burnout or illness as the permission device to take their self-care seriously.
What is your permission device? It usually sounds like ‘when I get X, then I will be ready’.
The reality is that the only person standing in your way is you; if you don’t back yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?
Unconditional self-acceptance and feeling enough isn’t something that has to be earned; it is something you choose.
When you choose it, your whole world shifts in every aspect of your life.
When you’re enough, you have the courage to set boundaries and say no instead of putting everybody else’s urgencies ahead of your own.
It changes what you tolerate, what you show up to and putting yourself on the calendar guilt-free.
Knowing you’re enough now allows you to negotiate the position you want, the salary you deserve and sell yourself unapologetically. It’s not arrogance but confidence about what you have accomplished. Your work cannot speak for itself; you need to speak up for it.
You do not need to earn it, simply know it.
Here’s to knowing you are enough,
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