The deeply ingrained sense of not being good enough

The feeling of inadequacy, of not being good enough, not being worthy is such a domineering factor in the human experience. It’s there in all of us by design, as a side effect of the intellect. It’s very apparent in some people and it goes unnoticed by the vast majority.

I feel lucky to belong to the people that have awareness of their own sense of built in unworthiness, because this gives me the chance to look at my behaviour and see which of my actions may be driven by this imperious and yet elusory feeling.

I’m glad to see I’ve made progress. Although, a more truthful way of putting this would be: I was dumbfounded to read a post I wrote some 6 years ago on quitting smoking and habit tweaking.

What shocked me was the extent, to which the idea of bettering myself possessed me. Looking at the sheet I put together to track progress, it was nothing short of an obsession.

I had 4 habits to get rid of, smoking, reading the news and checking FB/email all the time and sticking my tongue out and touching my face. And I had 12 habits to take up, including diet and exercise, micro meditations, morning routine, dancing, speaking and walking properly. At the end of the day I’d go through the sheet, look at each habit and track how I did that day.

The level of detail – basically changing who I was – and the importance I attributed to this habit tweaking project was not the problem, although it’s symptomatic of the underlying issue, which was the motivation: why was I doing all that?

The reason was an ingrained sense of not being good enough as I was, which, and here is the kicker, had nothing to do with the way I was.

I only see this in hindsight: it wasn’t that I had issues that made my life miserable so I set out to solve them, no. I was miserable and that misery had to find scapegoats to validate its existence.

I felt incomplete, unhappy, unworthy and my completeness was to be found in mastering those habits. I made my happiness conditional on the outcome of the habit tweaking project. The way I was, was not good enough. My bad habits, parts of myself I didn’t like were not acceptable, they were not valid.

I had to change in order to be acceptable to myself and others. Or so I thought and that became my experience, my reality.

I see this happen all over the place. This is such a dominant driver for a lot of people and it goes completely unnoticed most of the time.

Don’t be mistaken, improving yourself is not the problem. I’m not speaking out against personal development here. On the contrary.

The question is where does the motivation to become better come from? What are you trying to get out of becoming a better version of yourself?

Does it come from a place of hoping to find completeness and peace in your improved self? Or does it come from pure curiosity, fun and a place of full acceptance of the way you already are?

That’s rarely the case. Even if you feel it is, most likely it’s not. But there is nothing wrong with that and there is not much to do about it, other than watching yourself and asking questions.

Am I content with the here and now or do I need something to happen to be content?

If I am not content, can I be okay with not being content? Can I accept that life is always pleasure or pain? Can I accept the unpleasant and be at peace with it also? Or am I secretly hoping that life one day will be without pain?

But if I’m content with what is, why would I want to change anything and improve myself?

Out of curiosity, love, adventure, joy and fun.

As I wrote 6 years ago “it is absolutely possible to design your own habits and if you don’t, others will.”. That holds up to this day.

Just don’t hope to get anything out of tweaking your habits, other than tweaking your habits. Don’t do it for any reason other than it’s own sake. Your happiness is not tied to your habits, your weight or wealth. It’s the other way around.

Once you realize that this moment, right here and now is as good as it gets, that you can be as happy right now as you’ll ever be, then there is nothing more to hunt for. And then you are free to play.