Life is a roller coaster of constantly changing emotions. We can all be good and positive one moment, but then get thrown a curve-ball and down we go. For human beings, this is entirely normal, and our daily challenge to figure out.
Why? Because of the way our minds and thoughts work, we all experience emotional high and lows. When life aligns with what we think should happen, all is good; when challenged with issues that we judge as not fair, we often rebel, get angry, depressed, etc….
The difficulties arise when we latch onto specific negative thought patterns. A good example is a phrase, ‘I’m not good enough.‘ This thought produces negative feelings, which most often start a pattern of low self-esteeming. I say low self esteeming as self-esteem, whether high or low, is an action or process that we do to ourselves.
Now high self esteeming, is beneficial and enjoyable; however, low self esteeming drags us down, creates stress, depression, and possibly mental health issues. If this is one of your go-to thoughts or voices you hear frequently, then its time to stop, reflect, and look for change.
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay
There are numerous ways to help yourself out of this unhealthy cycle. One option is to hire a professional life coach or possibly a therapist.
However, if you’re unable to do that, then here are 5 practical things you can do by yourself.
5 practical things you can do when you don’t feel good enough
1. Surround yourself with positive people
One of the best ways to make yourself feel good is to surround yourself with happy and positive people. Consider people who know how to nurture their happiness and share it freely. Spend your time with those people, and you will find yourself taking on those same characteristics.
Have you ever felt that full of energy vibe when you enter a room filled with vibrant and joyful people? If you haven’t, then it’s time to get out and do some experimenting.
“People are like dirt. They can either nourish you, help you grow as a person, or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.” – Plato
Start to observe your surroundings. Are you in an environment that exudes positivity or negativity? Is someone you interacting with draining the life out of you? Pay attention to those energy suckers that tend to make you feel bad about yourself.
Step one to reclaim a positive attitude is to protect your environment and even cut negative people out of your life. While often not easy, it is undoubtedly a sign of healthy self-esteem when one keeps firm boundaries around whom they spend time with.
2. Don’t let your mind play tricks on you
No doubt your mind is a beautiful thing, but certainly, it is not perfect. It is often said that positivity comes from within, but so does the negativity. Both are inside jobs. Your critic is inside you, and while it can serve an essential purpose, it can also cause us pain and grief.
So no, we do not want to stop our thoughts (impossible anyway), but we might often want to question them. Are they accurate? Are you really not good enough? What does that even mean? Not good enough for what? Being a brain surgeon? Well maybe? How about having a job that you enjoy? What exactly are you not good enough for, and if you aren’t, what can you do about it?
‘You are your thoughts,’ if you think negatively, it’s going to grow and invade your personality, but if your thoughts are positive, you’re going to be a person full of life and energy.
For this, you need to have a robust dialogue with your inner critic, don’t let it play tricks on you. Check it out, are those thoughts accurate or just part of your poor conditioning, maybe even a habit?
“Your inner critic is simply a part of you that needs more self-love.” – Amy Leigh Mercree
Try to thank your inner critic. Become curious and let it be that coach that is providing an opportunity. Maybe it has a wise message, i.e., “you need to study more to pass the exam.”
Inner critics often have some important information for you.
3. Let go of perfectionism
“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen
Perfectionism often kills happiness; if you aim for unrealistic things. Unchecked, it can lead to disappointment and failure. The first thing to consider is what is perfection? Would you even know it if you had it? Is it even possible, and who says so?
“The problem with the perfectionist is they are almost always imperfect. The perfectionist does not even know what the perfection they are trying to achieve is.” – Steven Kiges
The big problem where perfectionists are often imperfect is to seek perfection in things they cannot control. If you speak in public to 100 people, what are the odds someone is not going to like your speech? Even if it is one person, does that mean that person is right and you wrong?
We live in a world of non-stop comparison, where it requires self-reflection not to get bogged down by the illusions of some enchanted world. For those of you that are genuinely perfectionists, my challenge to you is to come up with an example of a human being that is perfect. Does that even exist?
The first step to change anything is recognition. Are your imperfect around a particular situation, and then, by who’s judgment? Finding areas to improve is what keeps us engaged and excited about life. That is healthy and normal. But to hide one’s life using perfectionism as an excuse is only a way to keep you unhappy and unsuccessful.
“Perfectionism is often a lose-lose game we play to protect ourselves.” – Steven Kiges
4. Stop getting stuck in past
The past is something that is gone, and you cannot do anything to change it. Replaying negative experiences from the past that cannot be changed is a form of self-harm. While most of us intentionally or unintentionally do it, it is often not helpful. The past is a tool for us to learn from.
Yes, some things are painful and difficult to move from, but neglecting your present moments for the past is guaranteed to bring more suffering. If someone experienced past abuse, this was brought on by the abuser. If someone continues to replay these painful memories, then it is actually themselves now doing the abuse.
It can be helpful to reflect on negative experiences but for learning purposes. You want to strive to learn from poor decisions and bad choices. That is how human beings learn.
Gently let go of your past and focus on your present. Often people are helped by meditation. Meditation puts one into a focused, present moment state.
5. Celebrate your achievements
“Celebrating your achievement and applauding your triumphs is a sure way to refuel your enthusiasm and keep yourself motivated for your future endeavors.” – Roopleen
We all set goals and work hard to achieve them. Once completed, most of us don’t celebrate them as they should be. Celebrating your wins not only makes you feel great physically (release endorphin), it also reinforces a healthy attitude needed to face challenges in the future.
By achievement, I am not just talking about those significant accomplishments, such as getting your dream job or enrolling in that world-renowned university. I am referring to small wins, which most of us neglect. Appreciate your efforts and reward yourself on every success, regardless of how big or minor it is.
Conversely, if you don’t celebrate your achievements, you’re telling your brain that your efforts are not enough, and this often keeps you in a critical mindset.
When raising an infant, don’t we celebrate those first steps! Wow, look what you did! Amazing! We don’t say, so what, you took a few steps, who cares? Let me know when you start running, that would impress me! However, this is often precisely how we treat ourselves.
When celebrating, don’t forget to include your loved ones and others who might have helped you achieve your goals. We all need help and support to accomplish goals. By showing gratitude, you are acknowledging you are good enough.
Here are some quick Re-framing state changers
Are you good enough to take a bath?
According to Neil Morris, a Psychologist, who surveyed more than 80 people, taking a shower can diminish your feelings of depression and pessimism. Soaking your body in water freshens you up and makes you feel lighter.
Bathing induces feelings of comfort and ease, allowing your mind and body to relax.
If you’re feeling any kind of tightness in your muscles or you’re stuck at something, exposing yourself to hot water can help you. It is believed that hot baths are more effective as they warm up the body and increase blood circulation.
In one of his articles, Peter Bongiorno, ND, says that a bath can change the brain’s chemistry.
He further writes, “Decreases in stress hormones (like Cortisol) have been reported with bathing. It has also been shown that bathing may help the balance of the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.”
Are you good enough to read a good book?
Books take you out of your surroundings and transport you to the worlds unknown. Reading a good book can make you forget your worries, lower depression, and fill the inner void. Books are a refuge for anyone who wants to escape this world and its shortcomings. Books have the power to inspire and uplift your spirits on your blue days
Just as the Annie Dillard says, “She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.”
So when feeling down, pick up a book and start reading right away.
Are you good enough to go for a walk?
When you’re feeling not so good, all you need to have is an endorphin shot, the natural one. We all have heard that walking helps reduce weight and to tone the body. However, do you know walking can also act as a mood enhancer? Because when you walk, it boosts your endorphin level, providing you a feeling of euphoria.
Getting outside and changing your environment are proven to be the best therapy for your mind. If possible, go for a walk in nature, look around you, feel the breeze and breathe deeply. This will not only change your mood but will also comfort your body.
Walking could be the first step towards a stress-free and happy life. Make it a habit and devote at least twenty minutes daily to enjoy a life full of positive vibes and energy.
Are you good enough to talk to a friend?
Keeping your thoughts bottled up can make things worse. When you feel negative about yourself, vent out those thoughts. Talk to a friend as letting your feelings out could help you clarify your vision and relax your mind.
A healthy way to do this is to share with a friend you are struggling, and would they let you vent.
Reach out to people who love you as love, and understanding is often the thing you need when not feeling good enough about yourself. Let them tell you your worth and how fantastic human being you are.
Are you good enough to write in a journal?
One excellent technique to create clarity around struggles is keeping a journal. We often get lost in our thoughts. Putting them down on paper lets you examine your emotions and situations from a different perspective.
Simply take a notebook and start writing your thoughts. Whatever comes to your mind, just write it down. Also, don’t forget to write down some of those accomplishments too. What about some gratitude!
In conclusion, our inner critic is part of all of us. It gives warning of new actions to take but can also get unruly and create despair for us. Use your inner critic wisely and decide if the further advice it is giving you is helpful or harmful. That is your job!
About the author
Steven Kiges is the co-founder and director of the ICF (International Coach Federation) accredited The Coach Training Academy. Steven is a professional speaker, author, entrepreneur, and Certified Master Life Coach: a distinction held for coaches who have logged over 5000 hours with clients.