Simply writing this title has decreased my confidence significantly. Yet now that I realize why I feel self-doubt, I can move forward and write this post -- my first for the Huffington Post. How incredible it is that in a split second, we can shift our mindset from negative to positive.
Curiously, we rarely use this powerful ability because it's easier to hit our snooze button and ignore it. We get so good at this that snoozing becomes a reflex action -- that is, until we wake up and confront this yucky feeling. About a year ago, I realized that by ignoring this message, I was empowering it and weakening myself. Back then, had someone told me that I would be willing to admit my imperfections, I would have thought it impossible.
So how did I get to this point just a year later? By taking things one day at a time.
I work to overcome the feeling of being "not good enough" by using the following strategies that might work for you as well:
1) Make a Decision
As individuals, we have the incredible power to decide that we are, in fact, good enough. You are the person who owns the sole key to your self-worth, which governs what you do. In order to achieve the feeling of being good enough, you must first believe it. If you choose not to do so, then no one else can do it for you. Write it down and say it to yourself. When you make the choice, you become the decision maker and you are back in power. You hold that key, yet often forget that you do. So remind yourself that when you feel imperfect, you've chosen to be imperfect. Of course, perfection is merely a facade that holds us back from moving forward.
You must believe -- truly believe -- that you are good enough, which will allow you to let go of your quest for perfection.
2) Emphasize the Positive
How often do you quickly dismiss something you did well? Do you allow yourself to recognize and accept praise from others and feel that you deserve it? The frequency of this is likely much less than the amount of time you spend dwelling on something you did wrong or even sub-par. Do you recognize criticism and feel that you deserve it much more than praise?
Always remember that you're on your side, always.
3) Redefine Perfect
During my freshman year at Duke, I failed my first two exams. I had prepared so much for both exams and can still remember the moment I called my mom after getting an F on my chemistry exam. I thought that I didn't belong at Duke, that I wasn't good enough. Ultimately, I graduated from Duke with high honors, and I credit those two exams for my academic success.
I had only known the situation of being "perfect" prior to college, and those tests served as my wakeup call. Perfect was no longer what I wanted. Instead, my first goal distilled into simply passing my exams. When the threat of perfection was lifted, so was the pressure and anxiety I felt while preparing for and taking exams. I also reexamined my expectations. What did I want in the end, just good grades? No, I wanted to become a psychologist. I had a goal and I was going after it.
By releasing the self-assigned pressure of perfection, you will release the corresponding anxiety and allow yourself to perform up to your abilities.
By utilizing these strategies, you too can work to overcome the feeling that you are not good enough. The little voice that pops up at the worst of times and screams, "I am not good enough!" is awful. But while you may feel sometimes that it is easier to silence the voice deep within by hitting your snooze button, you must also realize the importance of the struggle to empower yourself and to value your self-worth at the cost of perfection.