How to overcome the false belief that "you are not enough"
By Javier Ramon Brito
People start to buy into the belief that “they are not enough” early in their lives, as soon as they start to compare to other people and as soon as the psychological demands of a society based on competition and high standards start to kick in and set roots in their subconscious minds.
Our Western society relentlessly pushes this narrative that you have to “stand out from the crowd”, “work hard”, “dream big”, “be bold”, “be impressive”, “live life to the fullest”, or even “conquer the world.” As a result, people are afraid of falling into the category of being “mediocre”, “average” or “not impressive enough.” As if being average or normal was the worst thing to be, or a sort of “sin.” Or as if you had to “justify your existence” to someone, or else you would not be “validated” by some sort of “authority” or by society as a whole.
So most people spend their lives trying to impress other people and “keeping up with the Joneses” in an attempt to feel validated enough, to not feel inferior to others or to feel “successful” in life.
This also leads to consumerism and debt, as many people spend money they have not earned to buy things they do not really need, in order to impress people they do not really care about, as Deepak Chopra, Will Smith and many others have pointed out.
In the age of social networks and media, it is common to see people connecting to their friends and peers trying to constantly “impress” or “stand out” in some way by doing or appearing to do “cool things” or showing the best images of themselves, smiling all the time and projecting a happy lifestyle, in order to be validated in someway or just to look “cool” or like they are “having a great time.”
Apart from social networks, we have in our Western society the constant noise of advertisements everywhere telling us to buy this or that, to eat this or that, to go here or there, to subscribe to this or that, to watch this or that, to do this or that, to live this or that way, as if only then we could live this “extraordinary live.”
If we think of it, we can understand why Chuang Tzu said that “the effect of life in society is to complicate and confuse our existence, making us forget what we really are, by causing us to become obsessed with what we are not.”
We have to realize that the constant exposure to massive media, social networks and advertisements really changes the way we think and can influence the way we define and perceive happiness for ourselves in our subconscious minds.
So it is no wonder that most people believe that happiness is synonymous with success. And there is a general perception that “success” is something measured by how much you accomplish in life, how much you manage to “stand out” and how much you are respected and admired for your accomplishments. This is a standard belief in our Western societies.
As soon as you embrace this perspective, you are pulled into the infamous “rat race.” A rat race ruled by hard work, competition, statistics, consumerism, debt, a constant search for external validation in real life, the media and the social networks. You are like just another hamster running on a wheel.
But you have a choice. You can either live your life in a constant search of external validation or change the script and free yourself from the social narrative that defines success as how much you impress other people or how you compare to them.
If you think of it, the real measure of success is your personal wellbeing. And this notion of wellbeing involves the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of your life. It is a holistic notion.
There is no point in spending your life pushing your brains and physical forces beyond your capabilities to the detriment of your health, for the mere sake of some sort of external validation. This is not success. A healthy life is much more important than a sacrificed life.
And a healthy life involves honoring, respecting and cultivating all the aspects of your life: your body, your mind, your spirit and your emotions. All should be in perfect balance.
So do not let the social narrative define the kind of life you should live in order to “feel enough.” You are enough. You are more than enough. And as every person on the planet, you have talents and skills to share with the world and to satisfy your needs.
Work to satisfy your needs, not to impress people. Put a break on cravings you do not need. You really do not need to keep up with the Joneses. Buying things you do not really need -just to impress people- will not make you happier. Doing things you do not really like just to impress or please people will not make you any happier either.
Stop pretending. Be yourself. Be authentic. Use your time wisely. Cultivate your health, your knowledge, your talents and your skills. Pay attention to your emotions. Be present. Cultivate your spirituality. Be in touch with nature. Do not waste your time trying to please or impress others.
Do not let the social narrative and pressure distract you from living, appreciating and being satisfied with everything you already have to enjoy in your life.
Reclaim your freedom to live and enjoy your own life according to your own standards and real priorities.
Life is a wonderful adventure. It is not a competition. It is not an exam. It is a journey. It is a joyful dance.
As someone said, “a satisfied life is better than a successful life, because our success is measured by others. But our satisfaction is measured by our own soul, mind and heart.” And if you understand that the real measure of success is your wellbeing, you understand that a satisfied life -and a life lived in appreciation and joy- is the ultimate compass for your journey.
If you wish to go deeper into this subject, read chapter 7 of my book “The Five Paths to Happiness”, where I explain the way out of the rat race and how to foster your emotional wellbeing.