I could never do something like that. I’m not ______ enough.
Has this thought ever crossed your mind? Come out of your mouth? What is it you wish you could do? What words fill in the blank for you?
We’ve all thought it at some time or another. It’s a very natural human thing to believe we’re not enough.
We look at other people doing amazing things and believe there must be something special about them. They can do the things we can only dream about because they have something we lack.
And maybe they do.
But maybe it’s not what we think.
Maybe that thing they have isn’t superhuman intelligence, looks, confidence, or courage.
Maybe instead what they have is a willingness to try even when they’re not sure they’re enough.
Before you write yourself off as not enough, dig a little deeper into what is really holding you back.
1. What would you tell someone you care about?
So often we hold ourselves to a different standard than those we set for others. It can actually be really helpful to think about how we would respond to a friend who wanted to do something similar. We tend to be much more supportive of others than we are of ourselves.
If someone you care about confided they wanted to do something, but didn’t know if they could, would you immediately dismiss their idea and shame them for thinking they might have a chance? Probably not.
More likely you’d be excited and encouraging. Maybe you’d ask questions about their plans. Maybe you’d tell them reasons you think they’ll do great. Maybe you’d offer support in their weaker areas.
What if you tried talking to yourself the way you’d talk to someone you care about?
2. What do your friends say?
Similarly, what do your friends say to you? What do they see as your strengths? Your weaknesses? Often others see things in us we don’t see in ourselves. Asking for feedback can feel very vulnerable, but what we can learn is so valuable.
While it can be helpful to think about how we imagine others view us, we’re still filtering through our own view of ourselves. The only way to really know what someone thinks is to ask. Now that doesn’t mean we need to rush out and ask everyone we meet just what they think of us. Not all feedback is helpful.
But choose two or three people who know you well—people you trust. Ask them what they admire about you. What do they see as your strengths? Where in your life do they see evidence of the quality you think you lack? You might be surprised by what you hear.
3. What are times you actually were ______?
When we say we’re not ______ enough we’re making an assumption that one must achieve a certain level of that quality in order to actually do something with it. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what that level is?
Chances are that even if you don’t believe you have enough of a certain quality, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any at all. Just because you don’t think you’re brave enough doesn’t mean you’ve never been brave.
Think about whatever quality it is you believe you’re lacking and try to think of times when you did embody that quality. When you doubt you have the qualities necessary to accomplish what you want, look for evidence to the contrary.
4. What is the tiniest possible step you could take toward what you want to do?
We get overwhelmed when we see what someone else is accomplishing and don’t see how we could ever do the same. But often what we don’t see is all the steps that person took to get where they are.
We think we need to bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be in one giant leap. In reality, it’s a process. We need to give ourselves the chance to try things and practice and grow.
Trying to go from where you are to where you want to be all at once can be overwhelming and might lead you to either keep waiting to test whether you can really do it or give up altogether. More important than having everything perfectly figured out is just getting started. Take a tiny step and and then another and another.
When you approach the process as a journey you are more present where you are right now. You might see things you would otherwise miss. You grow with every step you take.
5. What if you were ______ enough?
Pretend for a moment that you do in fact have enough of the quality you think you lack. Now what?
Do you still want to do whatever it was you thought you couldn’t? With the obstacle removed, what steps will you take toward whatever it is you want to do? What will it take to get you there?
Now think about it. What is really stopping you from taking those steps now? Are you actually using your belief that you’re not enough as an excuse? Why? Are you afraid of failure? Or is this not something you really want to do after all?
Sometimes we let a perceived obstacle prevent us from seeing any steps we could take. Pretend the obstacle isn’t there and see if you gain any clarity. Once you’ve thought of any steps you could take toward what you want to do, try moving forward even if you don’t feel quite ready.
Sometimes the only way we can become ready is to go ahead and do it anyway. If you can’t take that first step, try breaking it down even further. What baby steps do you need to take to get you as far as that first step?
What is something you want to do but don’t believe you’re ______ enough? What evidence can you find that maybe you can do it after all? What step can you take today?