This is something that can come under many names, from self esteem, to self worth, self belief and confidence. And no matter what words are used, what it ultimately comes down to is the feeling or sense of being enough.
Here one feels that who they are is enough, and this relates to who they are as a person and is not based on what they have done or will do. In many ways it could be described as a state of mind or being, as opposed to certain external requirements being met or fulfilled.
Although some people may have this inner sense of being enough, for a great many people, this doesn’t exist. While one may want to feel enough; the ego mind mind can create all kinds of resistance.
And as the mind is automatic, it will always respond with reasons why one is not good enough and it will supply all the answers as to what needs to be done to be good enough.
The reasons and answers that the mind gives out can appear to be the absolute truth and as facts of life. And this is largely due to these inner experiences being so familiar and normal.
Because one has become so acquainted with them, they no longer appear as imposters. One is then controlled by what doesn’t actually belong there.
These feelings, thoughts, emotions, sensations and the behaviour that these lead to, had to come from somewhere. Two of these influences are the early childhood environment and the society that one is brought up in.
In is through these experiences that one forms their perceptions on: who they are and who they are not; and if they are enough or if they are not.
The power that society has on people cannot be denied or ignored. And this power probably goes back to the days of tribes; where tribes were needed to survive. Of course, this is no longer the case, however the mind generally responds in the same way.
In the society that one lives in there are certain things that one must be, do or have in order to feel that they are enough. The message is: If these requirements are met, then one can feel content with who they are.
And if one doesn’t have these things then they are not enough. Perhaps one has a few of these things and yet until one has them all, there may be a tendency to feel great unease until they are acquired.
Some people are more vulnerable than others when it comes to being affected by the pressures that society presents; while others are able to hold their own in the face of these challenges. It could be said that the people who are not as affected are the ones who have what society values.
But there are many examples of people having all that society holds in such esteem and yet still feel that they are not enough. People can have the looks, the money, and the power and still suffer from the inner experience of not being enough.
When it comes to the physical world, if there is a bottle or a container that is low on liquid, the logical thing would be to pour more in. So if one feels that they are not enough, it again feels logical that with more success or achiement one will feel that they are enough.
And this is what society is telling us either literally or symbolically. The trouble here, is that the ego mind doesn’t respond in the same way that an empty container will.
If one feels that they are not enough it can lead to two extremes being acted put. On one side there is the person that fights their feelings of not being enough and achieves success. And then there is the person that just gives up and doesn’t challenge the feeling. One could also alternate between the two.
Feelings of great power can come and go, as can feelings of depression, worthlessness, hopelessness, powerlessness and anger and frustration.
No matter whether one has achieved what looks like success in the external world or if they have achieved very little, the same feelings will rarely be far away.
The person who doesn’t feel good enough may deal with their emotions through eating, drinking, sabotaging their relationships in some way, putting up with relationships that don’t honour who they are, compromising themselves in certain situations and many other ways.
To achieve constant success and achievement in the eyes of the world can be another way that one regulates their feelings of not being good enough.
And like the first option, it rarely lasts and before long the feeling will return once more. This is why extreme pain is often an effective motivator when it comes to attaining success.
Although society does play its part, as people are often already vulnerable to begin with it is a lot easier for the society to influence people. If people felt enough, they would be less likely to fall for these illusions and dysfunctional ideas. And this is where ones childhood years come into the equation.
The way that one perceives themselves is largely the result of the childhood that they had. If one is looking externally to feel enough and internally feels that they are not; it probably shows that when they were a child they were not loved for who they are.
And this would have reflected how ones caregivers felt themselves; with them projecting onto the child what they felt. This could have ranged from numerous moments of: abuse, neglect, obligation, conditional love, criticism, rejection, abandonment and many other things.
These could have been from one end of the spectrum and fairly mild, to the other and being extremely traumatic. The child then internalised these experiences over many years and had no choice but to take it personally.
As a result of these ideas and projections that were once external, becoming internal and identified with, one can spend the rest of their life being affected by them.
These internal processes can only run one’s life for as long as they go unnoticed. And if one feels that they are not enough it is not the truth, it is simply another person’s opinion.
The ego mind often sees life through a hierarchical point of view; with this leading to one feeling inferior or superior. If one was brought up to feel good enough through what they did and not who they were; then this internal model was probably created.
When it comes to the heart there is no hierarchy, it doesn’t exist. And this is surely because duality is a product of the mind. Through this point of view one not only sees it internally, but also externally.
In order for change to occur these dysfunctional ideas have to be faced directly. And by facing them head on in some form of therapy or even a book for example, ones perspectives will change.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.