Can you sift through the unrealistic standards and expectations that society sometimes puts on women?
Do you ever struggle with that feeling that you’re not enough? At work, you might feel like you aren’t as talented or knowledgeable as your co-workers and that you’ll never reach your career goals. In your relationships, you might feel like you aren’t lovable enough as a person. If you are a mother, you might constantly fear that you aren’t enough as a parent. And as a busy, modern woman, you might feel like there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. At your most stressed, you might feel like you never achieve enough balance in your life between work, your personal life, your self-care, etc.
But, is it true that you’re not enough? Often, when you feel like you aren’t enough, you are measuring yourself again some kind of standard. But, have you ever stopped to really think about whether or not that standard is even true? You might be surprised to find that, at its core, this belief isn’t true.
For example, let’s say you struggle with feeling lovable in your relationships whether it’s with your family, with your friends, or in your romantic life. In those situations, you’re likely thinking, “I’m not pretty enough, smart enough, athletic enough, funny enough…” and the list can go on and on. Ask yourself what standard you are measuring yourself against when you are thinking these thoughts. Are your expectations even realistic? Are your expectations only serving to make you feel bad about yourself instead of motivating you to be the best version of yourself? If the thoughts only lead to your self-worth taking a nosedive, then the lies aren’t worth keeping around. Instead of letting these lies rule your life, try replacing them.
No one likes me because I’m not as smart/funny/pretty/talented as other people I admire.
The Lie: No one likes me because I’m not as smart/funny/pretty/talented as other people I admire.
The Truth: Is it true I don’t have any friends or meaningful relationships? (Probably not.) I have people in my life who like me for who I am. No one is perfect and I have people in my life who like me just as am with all of my talents, positive qualities, and my flaws.
Let go of the old lie that brought you so much unhappiness and embrace the truth that you are enough. You’ll find these lies that we automatically accept as truth can pop up in many areas of our lives. Let’s say that, at work, you experience a constant undercurrent of fear that you are under-qualified for the work that you do and that it’s only a matter of time before someone discovers that you are just lucky that you got your current job. But is that really true?
I got this job by luck and it’s only a matter of time before someone discovers I’m a big fraud.
The Lie: I got this job by luck and it’s only a matter of time before someone discovers I’m a big fraud.
The Truth: I went to school and trained for this job and career. I interviewed for this job and was selected out of all of the other applicants. It’s okay to seek out support for the things I need help with at work and it doesn’t mean I’m a failure or an impostor. I’m not expected to know everything about everything. (Talk about impossible!) Just because some parts of my job are challenging doesn’t mean that I’m not right for the job.
And then there are those times where we feel like are “less” than those around us because we haven’t yet met some of the milestones we’ve set for ourselves. For example, if you’re single, it can be easy to let yourself feel like you are not enough because you aren’t married yet. Or, maybe you really want to have kids but are having trouble getting pregnant. It can be tempting to fall into thinking of yourself as “broken” or somehow less because having kids isn’t as easy as it seems like it is for other people. But is it really true that you’re worth less than others simply because you aren’t married, don’t have kids, or aren’t in a high-powered career?
Unless I’ve achieved certain milestones or accomplishments in my life, I’m not as good as other people who met those milestones or accomplishments. I’m worth less than others.
The Lie: Unless I’ve achieved certain milestones or accomplishments in my life, I’m not as good as other people who met those milestones or accomplishments. I’m worth less than others.
The Truth: All of those milestones and accomplishments are external, meaning they don’t affect who you are at your core. You are inherently worthy and valuable simply because you are you and regardless of your stage in life or your accomplishments. You deserve to see yourself as worthy whether you are single, married, have kids, don’t have kids, work a high-powered job, work a less-than-glamorous job, or simply work an okay job. Those external accomplishments won’t make you any happier if you aren’t happy with yourself.
Spend some time reflecting on the ways these types of lies might be affecting the way you live your life. There are so many expectations out there in the world when it comes to being a woman and a feminist. Knowing who you are (and not what others tell you that you should be) is critical. Challenge these standards that are imposed on you and the lies that result from them. You are enough just as you are and you deserve to know and believe that!
Julia Hogan, LPC, is a psychotherapist and writer based in Chicago. You can read more of her work, including her articles for Verily, at juliamariehogan.com, on Twitter at Julia_M_Hogan, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/juliahoganlpc/