You’d be surprised at the amount of “issues” that you think you have, that are just a manifestation of your internal belief that you are not good enough. The obvious one is lack of confidence. Others, such as laziness, demotivation and general discontentment are often the symptoms of that belief and if you only focus on the symptoms, you will never deal with the root cause.
I came to this conclusion once I realised that all of my time and effort was being spent trying to improve the surface, but I was never really dealing with the source. I mean, there are a 1000 articles that I can read about “how to get up at 5 am” but figuring out how to wake up earlier when the real issue is that I don’t feel happy with what I have to wake up to, is not going to help. So, this week, after I felt like giving up on writing (I know ironic as I talked about how not to quit last week), I was reminded about my why and how important it is to prioritise self-care in order to identify the real issues which are the cause of inconsistency with progress.
One of those issues is a lack of self-belief. I received a timely reminder of this after roaming through YouTube, during one of my “productive procrastination” sessions, as I tried to avoid my increasing work load from law school. I stumbled across a talk by Marisa Peer: I’m not enough. She discussed how we internalise the memories that we create when we are young and as we grow, they become the basis of how we see ourselves and those around us. So, I started thinking. Why is it that my ambition never seems to match my work ethic? I mean, don’t get me wrong I work hard, but I never fully seem to reach my targets or work at the level of my potential. It is almost as though I am trying to pre-empt failure, so I work a little slower and with less effort so that if anything happens, I can always blame it on “I did not do my best”.
The same concept can be applied to our relationship with people. There is currently a big move towards the “surrounding yourself with positive energy” mantra, which is great, but it can easily become a façade for hiding how we truly feel. No one really likes to talk about their issues, because no one wants to be tainted as the “problem”, so we focus on the symptoms. We show a little less of ourselves and hide in our shells, hoping that we won’t be discovered. Because we fear that maybe, just maybe our real selves are not that attractive.
We think that people are not going to truly accept us for who we are, so we give other them power to nit-pick the bits of us that they like and we tuck the others away. Whereas, feeling like you are not good enough is not something that you should just pass over as an innate personality trait, you have to deal with it. Find your root cause.
I think mine was created when I was 13 years old. I had the lead role of Tallulah from Bugsy Malone and I had successfully convinced my Dad to come watch my play. I remember, because it was probably one of the few times that he had seen me perform. The short version of the story is that he was interested in my performance in my studies and I was interested in figuring out how to become the Black Hannah Montana. So, this was my moment. I got off the stage and I was greeted by praise, but just not his. The one that actually mattered. The 13-year-old me saw that her talents were not good enough, but looking back I think there was a praise somewhere in the silence. Unfortunately, it’s his silence that stuck with me and I think that from that moment, I subconsciously developed the fear of: what if they never clap? Which consequently grew into: what if my efforts are never good enough?
Honestly, I was never going to be the Black Hannah Montana and the truth is that I am no longer a child. Praise should not be the foundation of my self-belief. My self-belief is my responsibility and it’s yours too. I am sure that there is a memory that you can recall or a particular statement that replays in your mind whenever you feel like you are not reaching your targets. Maybe you are just a naturally ambitious person and good is never good enough for you. Whatever the case, you have to manage how you perceive your-self and quieten negative self -talk. Don’t become a narcissist, but don’t downplay yourself either. There will be situations which will humble you and sometimes they are needed. Be your own cheerleader. Identify your weakness, but realise that they don’t make you. You are unique and your gifts and talents are unparalleled. Sometimes people will see that and sometimes they won’t. Don’t hand your self-belief to the world, nurture your own. And don’t forget, your crap might be someone else’s gold.
Remember that your productivity is linked to your personality. Make your development personal, not superficial.
ACT NOW: This week I am focussing on putting reminders that “I am enough” at the places where I spend the most time in. You can write it on your mirror or put calendar notifications on your phone. I am starting with my laptop. Take charge of the messages that you are internalising. Change your mind, change your life.