How to Deal with Comparison and Not Feeling Good Enough
Do you ever struggle with not feeling good enough?
This year has big a year of big growth and change, both with Becoming Who You Are and in my personal life (I’ve learned that the two are entwined: business growth rarely happens without personal growth, and vice versa). As we approach 2015, I’ve been reflecting on the biggest thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that have held me back in business—and, by extension, in life.
The winner, hands down, is not feeling good enough; especially coupled with comparison to people around me who are doing similar things.
When I first became interested in authenticity and conscious living, I thought that one day I just wouldn’t feel “not good enough” anymore. That hasn’t happened (yet), and I’ve come to realise that those "not good enough" thoughts actually contain an important message:
1. I’m avoiding something important, or that I’m not adequately prepared (this is why we don’t want to ignore our inner critic completely; sometimes it has a valid point)Or,2. This situation is an opportunity for growth and redefining my reality (i.e. rewriting redundant stories about myself, clearing out unhelpful beliefs, and altering my self-concept so that it’s more aligned with truth)
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the last year in particular is not to compare myself to people who are X numbers of years ahead of me and have a team of Y full-time staff working with them. It’s not fair, it doesn’t serve me, it doesn’t serve my community, it inevitably leaves me not feeling good enough, and it’s definitely not conducive to creative joy. Instead, I try to focus on what I can learn from them and use the experience of comparison to learn more about my needs and desires.
This lesson doesn’t just apply to business. We experience this when we go to that art class we really wanted to take and suddenly realise with a gulp that everyone else is streaks ahead of us. Or when we share some of our writing for the first time and, having heard everyone else share theirs, start to wonder whether we’re any better than a monkey arranging alphabet magnets on a fridge.
Everyone is a beginner at some point, and there will always be people who appear to be more successful, more popular, more wealthy, and more [insert trait here] than us.
Comparison can be helpful if we can use it for inspiration, but it's something we need to approach with care. With this in mind, I want to share a few suggestions I’ve found helpful for getting out of my own self-doubting “not good enough” ruts:
How to deal with comparison and not feeling good enough
1. Ask yourself “What’s one thing I can do to move vision forward right now?”
The idea that we need to wait to feel confident, then we’ll be able to take action is the number one belief that keeps a lot of people stuck . When I notice that I’m engaging in self-defeating comparison and indulging in “not good enough” thoughts, I know the most helpful thing I can do is to stop stress-browsing Facebook and take one small action on the thing I’m feeling anxious about. If I wait until I feel confident, I'm going to be waiting a long time. If I take action, however, the confidence comes.
[Tweet "The most effective antidote to dream-stalling fear is to do the thing we feel afraid of doing."]
2. Ask for feedback and support
Most of the time, we self-create 99% of the pressure we’re feeling. When I’m notice I'm feeling stuck or not feeling good enough, I have a network of people I reach out to, and hearing outside perspectives helps me reset my own perception. I’m good at spotting “not good enough” belief patterns in my clients, but I also know that, when it comes to myself, it helps to have someone else act as a sounding board.
3. Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t
When we’re feeling stuck, it’s tempting to want to search for something or someone to blame—I’ve been there, done that (and I would say I got the t-shirt as well, but in reality focusing on blame gets us nothing).
Resist blaming or shaming yourself and others—getting stuck in victim mode will not help you.
Instead, focus on what you can do. Spend time on the project in question and focus on what you can get out of the situation, rather than dwelling on all the things that might not happen or might go wrong.
4. Let go of the outcome
Not feeling good enough often comes as a result of trying to control things we can’t control, including what other people think of us.
Even when we try our hardest and knock it out of the park, the outcome might still not be exactly what we’d hoped for. We often treat situations as though we have 100% control over them, when in reality there are plenty of external variables that contribute to the outcome.
You can give a dazzling performance in a job interview, but the company might still go for another candidate. You might show up 100% as a coach or consultant, but the potential client might not be personally ready for what you’re offering. You might work really hard at your relationship, but the other person might still decide that they want something else. We have influence over these outcomes, but not control.
Life becomes a lot simpler when we give up trying to control the things we can’t control, and start focusing out effort and energy on the things we can.
Letting go of the outcome isn’t the same as not caring. I care a lot about many things: my husband, my friends, my business, my clients, my health, my financial security, and much more. What I have control over—and what I can pour my care into—is how I show up. That’s very different from trying to control a particular outcome.
I have two mantras I use that help remind me of this balance. I don’t do anything kooky with them; they’re just phrases that resonate with me that I remind myself of when I’m feeling challenged.The first is from Angeles Arrien and is a mantra I use in life generally:
Show up,Pay attention,Tell the truth,Let go of the outcome.
The second is from a coach and mentor of mine and is a mantra I use specifically related to my business:
These mantras both remind me of the approach I want to take to business and life as a whole: dedication to the process without attachment to the outcome.
How do you deal with feeling stuck and “not good enough”? Leave a comment and share your suggestions.
Image: Giulia Bertelli