enoughNot smart enough, not young enough, not strong enough, not talented enough, not attractive enough, not disciplined enough, not brave enough…

If you’re caught in the “not enough” trap, nothing about you ever do seems quite good enough. Standards by which you measure yourself become impossible. Successes are rarely enjoyed, for you always feel as if you must do better. Perceived failures are magnified. Life becomes a quest for perfection – like the carrot dangling in front of a horse; it is chased but never truly experienced.

As women, we may say to ourself things like, “If I’m 98% perfect in anything I do, it’s the 2% I’ve messed up I’ll remember when I’m through.” The problem begins when we allow others – family members, our spouse, friends, a boss, the media – to define who we are or are not. Unfortunately, these roots of self-image often stretch far back into childhood, when negative messages we received from parents and others imprinted us with a feeling of being inadequate.

When I am engaged to hold a training workshop for an organisation, I always provide a feedback form for attendees to complete. Initially my eyes were always drawn to the few negative comments rather than the majority of positive comments. I would focus on these comments and berate myself wondering what I had done wrong. However, I now focus on the positive comments, as I know there will always be one or two people you can never please no matter what you do. If I, and the majority of the attendees, am satisfied with the session, I have learnt to accept that I have been successful.

But as mature women, we can choose to truly accept ourselves – with all our quirks, faults and shortcomings – as being enough right now. I mean, as women over 45 years of age, when will we ever be enough?

Go Ahead, Compare Yourself

If you are a perfectionist, you will always ‘come up short’, as you will never be good enough. The next time you get that feeling of not being enough, stop to examine the standard you are using to gauge yourself and from where did it come?

Another way to look at the power of comparison is this: Compare your own physical measurements to those of a woman that embodies ideal physical beauty by media standards. Dwell on the differences.

Then list all the achievements you’ve accomplished up to your current age. Be extra thorough. Now compare your list to that of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at age 12. By that time, Mozart spoke 15 languages and had composed numerous major pieces of music, including an opera. Dwell on the differences.

If you’re perfectly miserable at this point, your job is to notice how negative comparisons affect your available energy for work, family, relationships – and for yourself. How do they block the real you from showing up?

Did You Ever Wonder…?

Here are some more questions to ponder:

  • How is it that if something is not perfect, then it is nothing?
  • Is it possible to accept myself and treat myself in a loving and caring manner regardless of my accomplishments or lack of them?
  • Why must I be outstanding or special?
  • Why does failing at something transform me into being a failure?
  • What would my life be like with more realistic standards?
  • Can I be satisfied with progress, not perfection?

No matter what your age, life is a never-ending process of learning and growing in skills, experience, wisdom and compassion. Most of us are not spectacular in any category of life. And yet each one of us is worthy, lovable, competent, effective, attractive and smart enough to live lives of contribution, caring and value.

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