Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not good enough.

Some years ago, this thought — you're not good enough — pitched camp in my brain, as if on permanent vaca.

My word blows came from a belief inventory of what I thought I should be.

My belief inventory wants me to:
Speak articulately. Always think creatively. Make people laugh. Be original. Earn respect from co-workers/elders/family. Impress my boss constantly. Nurture. Put others first. Forgive the worst and move on. Hide any flaws. Never have a bad day. Be healthy. Hold onto my childhood. Let go of my childhood. Take dance classes. Exercise daily. Eat right. Look fashionable, without trying too hard. Be fiscally responsible. Give to the needy. Stay morally strong. Return favors. Push away jealous thoughts. Protect myself from harm. And on and on.

But isn't it kind of silly to judge yourself by the standard that evolved in your mind?

When you feel not good enough what are your options?
1. Spend endless hours measuring yourself up to unobtainable goals.
2. Hang out with underachievers until you feel better about yourself.
3. Eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

You tell me. Is having a belief inventory good or destructive?


Anonymous said...

to me, a belief inventory is something everyone has to have. it is something off of which you make all your choices. if you do not have one, you do not stand for anything. and, as cheesy as it may sound, if you do not stand for anything you really can fall for anything. you have to know what you expect of yourself ideally. we all have days when we do not or cannot live up to those standards we set for ourselves. but i like to tihnk of it this way: well-behaved children have usually been raised by parents who expect a lot of them, but love them despite their short-comings; high-scoring students are usually taught by teachers who expect a lot of their students, enable them to do well, but are supportive and helpful if they do fail. as we grow up, we have to be our own parents and our own teachers and we have to set high standards for living, but still love, support, and help ourselves when we do not or cannot meet those standards.

Chrissie said...

I like how your options seem to follow the pattern of how some people cope with this very thing...

First, we constantly strive and fail to reach "perfection," then we fill our time with undesirables, and then when we realize that doesn't feel so great either, we resort to the ice cream.

But what comes AFTER the ice cream is what's most important.

I had someone close to me once list my biggest flaw as "Being too hard on yourself."

My "belief inventory" closely matches yours, but I think the one thing that can get me through is knowing that I'm doing the best that I can.

It may not "fix" everything, or feel even close to perfect, but what can we do, other than our own personal best?

sarah said...

I dunno. I think the mind traps us in illusions and emotions, making us feel so very unworthy. I think a lot of that stems from our "belief inventory."

Don't get me wrong. It's important to have goals and guidelines. But my own belief inventory is full of contradictions and mountains to be moved.

Having 0 beliefs is better than having unobtainable ones, because without that horrible SELF DOUBT, I think I could achieve greater things.

No? Yes? You're an idiot Sarah. Shut your face Sarah.


vanessa said...

I don't think its so much that our own minds make us feel unworthy, its the people around us that we care about.

For instance, my father was a big believer or at least commentator that everything I ever did was never good enough, even my friends were never good enough. That's when you start to tell yourself that maybe they were right.

Then as you get older you hopefully realize that it isnt you, its them. They hate themselves so much that they have to bring everyone else down around them, whether they consciously realize it or not.

vanessa said...

It got to a point where I'd bring home A's, and he'd say, thats it? Why not an A+? So then I in turn decided if A's aren't good enough, nothing will be. So I stopped even trying and eventually got C's and D's and almost didn't graduate high school.

Thankfully somehow I realized for myself what he was doing and that I wasn't going to let him help me ruin my life.

You need to have expectations of yourself and others, or else you wont have a life.. or at least a fulfilling one. Like Anon and Chrissie said, the trick is to just know that you're doing your best, and basically love yourself for trying.

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darnit-- people like me!"

Anonymous said...

you all should read the book "generation me". it's an interesting look at how the recent generation (teens thru 30 year-olds) has been raised to "do the best you can" and "love yourself for trying" and to believe that "it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game" and that they're "good enough, smart enough, and, gosh darnit, people like me" despite their flaws, and how this self-coddling belief structure leads ultimately to depression, failure, a tendency to blame things on anybody and everybody but themselves, and a general resentment or disgust with the rest of the world.

but they do end up "loving themselves" thru it all. in a miserable sort of way.

i'm not necessarily espousing this idea... i'm just saying it was an interesting read... a challenge to the basic tenets of the current american generation, which is perhaps the most selfish generation in history.

other than that, i don't really have a well-formed opinion in this matter. i've always thought that i thrived on competitiveness, a desire to reach unreachable expectations, and an absolute rejection of failure. but i think that mindset has cultivated a compulsion to always do better, which has ultimately become destructive, like an OCD, and now i think i'm going a little insane, with a very sane conscious realization of this fact (if you can understand what i mean by that... (which if you can't, i understand, because i think you have to be going a little insane to understand what a person who's a little insane is saying...)).