Bullying really sucks. To make a bad situation worse, many of us bully ourselves for not being good enough and a raft of other inadequacies. I’m one of those people.
I spent a very long time believing I wasn’t good enough and totally sabotaging myself. This belief fuelled many years of dysfunctional behaviour – where I compensated for my dangerously low self-esteem in weird ways. This distorted perception of who I was led to years of addiction. I even attempted suicide at the age of 18.
I thought I was running from my pain but I was pretty much in pain all the time. My increasingly destructive actions only led to more pain. Looking back, I’m no longer convinced that was the whole story because I knew, deep down, that embracing and expressing pain is a very rewarding experience. I always felt better after a good cry as a kid.
So why did I hold on for so long to feeling like I was not good enough?
The answer it seems, is that shit stinks but at least it’s warm. It was actually my self-appointed status as a lost cause – and all the privileges I afforded myself as a consequence – that really kept me going. The main privileges were my perceived right to be a complete narcissist; and shying away from the pursuit of my true potential for fear of failure.
You see, if I truly accept I am good enough, I no longer have an excuse to put up with a safe but soul-destroying life. I kind of need to start doing something about it… and that’s a hell of a lot harder and scarier than working a mind-numbing job; and then retreating into porn, sex, drugs, TV, comfort eating and consumerism at every possible opportunity.
I used to equate being good enough to being perfect and to being able to do everything on my own. It was the perfect lie to keep me stuck because it’s glaringly obvious that survival and evolutionary success just doesn’t work that way. Or as this month’s cover of Scientific American put it:
“How we conquered the planet. Our species wielded the ultimate weapon: Co-operation.”
As a consequence of my ridiculously distorted expectations of others and myself the results of my actions were of course never good enough and this real world evidence did an amazing job of endlessly reinforcing the belief and motivating more dysfunctional compensating behaviour. It was a setup from the start. A self-fulfilling prophecy. The cycle fed itself, keeping me from the pursuit of my potential, and, literally, killing me.
After many years of probing, I’ve finally spotted this cycle of self-induced misery. I have truly realized that being “good enough” does not mean I will never be afraid of progressing into new stages of life (I’ve taken a hell of a lot of convincing BTW!). It simply means I am deserving of the help of others and I’m entitled to ask for it. It means I’m allowed to put my needs first sometimes and to do the things that make me happy. It also means I’m allowed to make a whole lot of mistakes along the way!
I can tell you from experience that it’s the belief that you’re not good enough (and all the resulting crap) that’s not good enough – NOT YOU! You’re probably pretty awesome!
One person who knows this better than most is Lizzie Velasquez. Bullied almost her entire life due to a rare syndrome that didn’t allow her to gain weight (she was dubbed ‘The World’s Ugliest Woman’ at 17), Lizzie went on to give a multi-million viewed TEDx talk and an author, speaker and anti-bullying activist.
A Brave Heart – The Lizzie Velasquez Story is soon to be released in cinemas worldwide and all the awards it’s winning suggest it’s pretty awesome. I met Producer/Director Sara Hirch Bardo recently and heard a little bit about it. The process of working with Lizzie has completely changed her life. Lizzie truly challenges our perceptions of what is possible when we finally accept we are f**king good enough.
Originally published on Ripe & Ready