You are not called to get rid of your not-enough story – you are called to stop living it

Not enough.

We all have at least one of those stories rolling around our head.

I’m not a good enough parent

I’m not smart enough

I’m not a good enough friend

I’m not thin enough

I’m not strong enough

I’m not talented enough

I don’t work hard enough

I’m too fat

I’m too lazy

I’m too sensitive

We all have some version of a “not good enough” story – and some of us carry a multitude of the not-enough’s.

I’ve carried a not-enough story since I was six years old. It was the year my younger brother won the local beauty pageant, the very beauty pageant my mother had put me in every year prior, the same beauty pageant I always placed in, but that I never placed first.

Placing, but not placing first like my brother, meant I was less than. In my six-year-old mind it meant that I wasn’t pretty, talented, thin or good enough. It was a story that cut so deep to my core that it led my six-year-old self to believe she’d be better off dead than not-enough.

It’s a moment I’ll never forget and it’s one of the earliest memories I have of not being “enough”.

The most interesting thing about those deep seated not-enough stories is that no matter how much we put them down, we work through them or we think I beat it. I’m finally rid of it – those stories have a funny and sneaky way of always making another entrance.

I thought I had conquered my six-year-old not-enough story but when my younger brother passed I found myself deep in an eating disorder, a means to control my world by controlling my body – a not thin enough story that promised me happiness contingent upon a number on a scale.

I healed. I recovered. I set that story down.

But the story still found its way into my life. It made me question my relationships, my sexuality, my career and talents. It held me back from taking risks, closed me off from real connection to others and kept me living a life where every thing had to be quantified and qualified.

You are not called to get rid of your not-enough story – you are called to stop living it

I started to notice the times my mind went to a not-enough story:

I wrestle with my not-enough story when I’m up against big challenges

I wrestle with my not-enough story when I really want something and I’m afraid I won’t get it or achieve it

I wrestle with my not-enough story when I’m caught in comparison

I wrestle with my not-enough story when things are uncertain and not in my control

When does your mind give you a story?

Do you go to your not-enough story when you fight with your spouse? When your child cries as you drop them off at daycare? When you think that someone might be disappointed in you? When you miss out on a job?

And what do you do when your mind offers you a not-enough story? Do you dive into its pages, punishing yourself with every word? Do you have a favorite chapter you like to re-read and bookmark with annotations?

As you begin to page through your not-enough story, what happens to your behavior? Do you continue to build relationships? Do you open yourself up to be engaged in a community with others? When you’re in your not-enough story: do you take chances, seek adventure or create movement in your life?

Your world reflects the narrative you tell yourself.

The problem with reading a not-enough story is when we dive into a not-enough story, we run the risk of it becoming our identity.

A story of not-enoughness because something happened (or didn’t happen) turns into I’m not good enough. And when we do that, we narrow the opportunities we have for responding to the world.

This past week my not-enough story has been LOUD, particularly in the areas of relationships and career.

In less than a month, I’m moving in with my boyfriend. While I’m the happiest I’ve been in a very long time, I’m also scared – thinking it’s too good to be true and feeling not good enough. What if this doesn’t work out? What if I’m not good enough for him? What if I’m too much to deal with?

This week I’m also set to film some of my classes in preparation for master trainer auditions at LifeTime Fitness, something I’ve been working toward for the three and a half years I’ve been with the company. It’s also a role I went for last year and did not get. The process of filming, going through the audition process again, brings up old stories and feelings – and a shit ton of fear: What if I don’t get it this go-around? What if I’m really not good enough?

I’ve been asking myself:

How do I stop feeling like this?

I know the story. I can identify it, but I don’t know how to stop it. And maybe you find yourself there too.

This week, as I was asking myself, How do I stop feeling like this? I realized something: I’m not here to stop the story. Neither are you.

We are here to stop living the not-enough story.

You don’t get to abandon your not-enough story (and neither do I). You also don’t get to stop having the thoughts and invitations to reread your not-enough story. You and I have been rehearsing our “story” for decades and it’s here to stay. There’s no magic trick, formula or words to erase the traces of it.

But that’s OK. Because you and I have a far better goal to pursue – one that offers more freedom than attempting to get rid of the narrative.

You see, when we set a goal of not having our not-enough story, we begin to structure our world and relationships to avoid the things that might trigger our story. And when we live to avoid discomfort, we also avoid the moments which bring joy and value to our lives.

You are not called to get rid of your not-enough story – you are called to stop living it

Do you live to get rid of your not-enough story or do you live to create a new one?

Beyond the Enoughnes

Identify your values

Start by identifying your values.

What brings you joy? When do you feel peace? When you look at the people you respect – what are the values you admire in them?

Use those questions as a blueprint for your choices.

If you put your values out front as guideposts for your behavior, what would you be doing different?

I have my values on post-it notes alongside the corkboard in my office to remind me of what really matters: Integrity, Impact, Innovation, Vulnerability, Rest & Rejuvenation, Connection, Growth and Freedom. When I find myself in a not-enough story, I revisit these guideposts and ask if the thoughts I’m thinking and the actions I’m taking are in alignment with what I say really matters.

Make friends with your story

Be willing to hear your not-enough story and name it when you hear it.

When you feel shame, embarrassment, regret, anger, jealously – and a host of other emotions – you can be sure there’s a not-enough story lurking nearby.

Listen to the story. Let it offer you advice. You don’t need to prove your not-enough story wrong or toss it in a shredder. Listen to your story with compassion, just don’t let it be your guide.