FEELING NOT GOOD ENOUGH - HOW DO YOU GET IN YOUR WAY?
Updated: May 14
We so rely on them! The thoughts that make us feel good. All the motivational and positive messages fuel our joy and give us hope. But then there are the thoughts that makes us feel right the opposite of good. These we like to avoid, burry... ignore for so long that we cease to notice them altogether. So we think...
In this article I will walk you through some practical steps on what to do when you trip you over in the dark reality of your hidden thoughts. Ready?
Our mood is directly connected to our thoughts, to what we think about and how we think about it. That much we know. We could also agree on the notion that we can chooose what we think about, hence can make ourselves feel in a particular way. But if it was that simple, we would be all ecstatic from thinking happy thoughts all the time.
Did you know that a substantial proportion of your inner commentary comes in automatically, without you asking for it?
Due to the wiring of our brain which has been built over many years (in my case over 40), certain strong connections were created. The more robust, the more they have been used, and the faster they fire. And the faster they fire, the less does your higher brain notice. The seat of your intelligence - your reasoning circuit - is shut out as means of conserving resources and speeding up action. Now, imagine a field full of mouse trails. Have you ever seen one? There are the larger trails which were dug out first. These are in constant use and serve as the fastest escape routes. Then there are the smaller trails, partially blocked by grass growing into them due to the lack of use. Our nervous impulses, triggering certain unconscious thoughts, are just like the large mouse trails. They are behind all of our habitual thinking - that we act on without really consciously thinking about it. Have you ever wondered if you locked your car or house? Repetitive behaviour leads to our consciousness switching off and our lives becoming more mechanical. This doesn’t apply to only doing, however. Our thinking also becomes unconscious. Sounds mad, doesn't it? How can you think and not notice that you do?
All repetitive, particularly fearful or incessantly worrying, thoughts are habitual. Meaning that they are learned, gradually 'cemented' deep into our brain with the number of repetitions. The good news is that with bringing a little awareness into our thoughts we can re-train our thinking. Thanks to it’s plasticity, we can re-wire our brain. It is literally like digging new trails, but this time those we chose ourselves. (As supposed to using our usual ones built, more often than not, by our predecessors. Learn more about parental conditioning here.) As you can imagine this requires some effort, although it is very simple really as we are literally swapping an old 'thought habit' for a new one.
In order to change it, we first must become aware of what exactly is this habitual thought about and how is it affecting us.
Our Ego is the part of us which grew in scary and powerless situations, whenever we felt out of our depth by comparing ourselves with others. With no awareness whatsoever, typically this happened when we joined the institution heavily promoting competition known as the school. At the age of 4 or 5 we started to realise that our worth is measured in the outside world by what we are good at. We inevitably linked this to our loveability. We began to live our lives as a constant chase in order to prove ourselves. And everytime we failed, we condemned and rejected ourselves for it. (How comparison affects your loveability read here.) From being happy-go-lucky, blissfully unaware of this soul destroying practice, our world over time became a hunt for 'the smarter, stronger, faster trophy'. I see how this affected my 7 year old son. His inner narrative changed from ‘I have made this great picture’ (because previously he had no need to judge himself) to ‘I am rubbish at drawing’. His anger and disappointment is painfully frustrating for me to watch. He isn’t even aware how he puts himself down by swiftly comparing himself to someone who has years more experience and is naturally more artistic.
At a young age we lack understanding of the wider context. We do not possess the necessary knowledge and experience to take ourselves by hand, being fair to ourselves, and say 'You have done your best and that is enough!'. We have no understanding of how much work goes into certain achievements, that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and that not everything is as it seems. Neither we know that the reason we feel bad is that we are thinking bad thoughts about ourselves. Taking our frustrations on those we love, we fall even deeper into self-loathing.
If we, as adults, lack the understanding of how our thoughts can betray us, we are unable to teach our children to put things into wider (and wiser!) perspective. And they, like us, will make themselves feel unnecessarily bad.
Know that anything which doesn’t make you feel good about yourself is because of the way you think about yourself in that moment. Your inner Narrator is most likely telling you how you don’t measure up to someone (on the outside), or someone you wish you were (a wannabe created on the inside). Observing your inner dialogue is the initial step by overseeing the thoughts our mind runs away with - without us giving them a second thought. It is like zooming out of the tunnel vision of your mouse trail, and seeing from far above where you are heading. You now know how thinking the same thought makes you feel: uneasy, unhappy, or disappointed about yourself. By only watching from afar, your emotions will loosen their grip on you so that you can focus on changing things for yourself. You will cease to be the mouse running for your dear life and become the hawk silently soaring the sky of your consciousness. It is at this point that you are managing to escape the prison of your own fearful Ego.
Remember, silence and distance is necessary to catch yourself. By observing your mind's commentary without an added commentary of your own, you have a chance to slow down time.
1. First you notice ‘Wow, I feel really bad here!'. Because only when you do, you can look for another trail. Meaning you are now choosing where will you take you. This is you zooming out. Your Ego, with its tunnel vision will blame others at first, or yourself at a later stage, in an attempt to keep you down. Don’t give it your precious attention!
2. By saying ‘I feel what I feel and it perfectly OK!’ you give it some space. It’s like creating a non-judgemental vacuum which momentarily separates you from your emotions. You need it to stay present and focused on yourself!
3. Whilst staying in this protective bubble you can ask yourself with curiosity: ‘What did I think of, that made me feel so bad? Your answer will expose your automatic commentary. By further asking 'What does it mean then - for me personally?’ , you can trace your unconscious thought similar to mapping your mouse trail. Usually it sounds like ‘I told myself that they are better than me, which means that I am rubbish... crap, bad at ....’
4. Now is the time to put your judge to a positive use! Being impartial, question your conclusion:
‘Am I being fair to myself here?’. Most importantly ‘Is my conclusion a loving one? Am I being kind to myself here?’. I can guarantee you that the answer is almost always 'no'.
5. At this point you find yourself at the cross road of your trail, having slowed down you are able to choose a different, Loving narrative: ‘I am OK, awesome, great...enough for me as I am right now, and I love me.’ By saying this you are taking the unusual trail so it is bound to feel somehow strange at the beginning, even hard to say! But by dropping the chase, by saying ‘I don’t need to prove my worth to anyone because I love me and that is enough’, you are free to enjoy your own journey. Your life! Because whenever you choose self-love, you are choosing your true Self. Your measuring bar is off the hook, leaving you to feel the infinity of your inner peace.
To find the strength to change our self-destroying habits we only need to realise how much energy, happiness and peace, they are stealing from us. How bad is our core insecurity of not being enough (of a son or a daughter, a wife or a husband, a father or a mother, a man or a woman), making us feel. Making changes is scary, because you are taking trails less traveled and facing your own painful emotions hurts. But imagine how many times a day, for how many years gone (and potentially to come!) you hurt you by putting yourself down? I see going through this process as birthing. Yes it hurts, but it’s relatively short and totally worth long term.
Thank you for reading. If my article contributed to understanding yourself, please be generous and share it with others.
Copyright © 2019 Michaela Patel