The Disease Of “I Am Not Enough”
Have you at any point in your life suffered from anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem, or simply feeling low about yourself?
I certainly have, and if you are human, then you have probably too.
I have been studying psychology for years now, and I made it my life’s mission to decode human behaviour.
Two things fascinate me above all:
- Why are people unhappy?
- Why are people happy?
For years I have been studying clinical psychology, and I have been interviewing countless case studies to find out what habits result in unhappiness. Ever heard of the saying that psychology students all are messed up and study the human mind to help themselves? Well, for me, this was certainly true. I am a proud lifetime member of the weirdo club.
So decoding the recipe for unhappiness was not only of interest for my psychological career, but it was born out of personal necessity. I was looking for ways to understand why I was in so much pain.
Was there a common demeanour to all my problems? What habits of mine are responsible for me feeling this way? What thought patterns were responsible for my fuck ups.
Or in short, I was curious to find out what the fuck was wrong with me.
In my quest of deconstructing unhappiness, I was looking for patterns, habits, and circumstances to stay away from. In this pursuit of understanding myself and my pain, I started studying all of the leaders of clinical psychology in the world, and after some time, I came across Marissa Peers.
According to Marissa, there was one thought pattern that is a major contributor to depression and mood disorders, and it was the disease of feeling not enough. So, first, let us take a look who Marissa is…
Who is Marissa Peers?
Marissa is a British therapist. She was named Britain’s best therapist by Tatler magazine. She has spent nearly three decades treating clients that include international superstars, CEOs, Royalty, and Olympic athletes. And, she is the best-selling author of “Ultimate Confidence”. She is a pioneer in Hypnotherapy and Rapid Transformational Therapy.
What Is The Disease Of “I Am Not Enough”?
Marissa believes that the common demeanour for disorders such as overeating, compulsive spending, depression, alcoholism, and drug addiction comes from the internal state of not feeling enough. According to her, all of the disorders above come from the same sick roots. The attempt of filling oneself up with external things to cover up the fact that they one do not feel enough.
Case Study 1
In this segment of Marissa’s amazing talk, she shares a case study. For all you psychology muggles out there, a case study is, for example, a person with a psychological problem (disorder) that is studied in-depth.
In the video, she talks about a patient that is ridiculously rich but chronically depressed and struggles with alcoholism. He lives in an amazing mansion and has several sports cars and has had three wives already. So the constant variable in his equation of unhappiness was not his circumstances but he himself.
How can a person with those kinds of resources be depressed?
It turns out that the guy grew up dirt poor in a trailer park. His father was a construction worker who was a horrible father and who never showed him any love. Children tend to idolise their parents. If parents hurt their children, the child usually thinks it is because they deserve it. They think my parents treat me like this because I am not enough.
Humans often subconsciously think that we live in a just world. The consequence of this mindset is that we assume that bad things happen to bad people, that everybody gets what they deserve. The danger of this mindset is that when something horrible happens to you, you unconsciously think that you deserved it, that you had it coming.
What do children often do then to cope with this situation? They make a mental mistake. They think they have to get better, richer, more beautiful, or thinner to be enough, so their parents will love them.
This is a mental fallacy.
We are all enough, and we always have been.
I interviewed a lot of people with PTSD, and a common mental pattern that I have found was that they thought that it was their fault that they were abused. They were to “weak”, and to protect themselves, and to make sure that something horrific such as abuse or trauma never happens again, they overcompensate. They want to get stronger, smarter, or richer all to make sure that they are safe, and that nobody will ever put their hands on them again.
This mental mechanism makes sense, but it also can hurt us if we still feel afraid even though we are safe. At some point, we must allow our soul to heal, and internalise that we are safe and that we are fine just the way we are.
Being driven by fear instead of inspiration can cause major turbulence.
Case Study 2
I was interviewing a patient some time ago. He was 25 years old, and I came into contact with him in a psychiatric facility I was working in. He was charming, laughed a lot, was in tip-top shape, and all the girls liked him. He was also, career-wise, super successful, and he had three start-ups, and that made a lot of money.
He had also tried to kill himself four times.
From afar, this made no sense to me. How come a guy, this dedicated and successful, wants to end his life?
After further investigation of his story, he told me about his past. It turned out that his mother committed suicide, and that he was the one that found her dead.
She wrote a farewell letter. In the letter, she mentioned that she believed that she was too weak to be a mother and that her son was better off without her.
This obviously traumatised the heck out of that young man, and although his mother was a beautiful soul, she messed up his life with this in a major way. Of course, she did not have this in mind.
As I said before: children tend to idolise their parents to extreme levels. Since his mother was perfect to him, it must be his fault that she killed herself. He thought that if he would be more, more loveable, more powerful, more richer, then he could have prevented the suicide of his mother.
In consequence, he always felt like he was not enough, and his coping mechanism became that he tried to become more, and fill the internal void externally.
The fear of losing people around him drove him to extreme over-compensative behaviour. In work, he overworked, because he thought that if he did not overwork that he would be of no value. That he would be left again. This caused a burnout.
In his social life, he became a heavy party drinker. Consuming lots of alcohol and drugs, because he thought he was not enough, and that others could never love his true self unless he enhanced it. He drank because then, he would be funnier, more outgoing, braver, and less shy.
In his financial life, he always needed to have so much because he thought of himself as so little. He bought all of the expensive watches, clothes, and cars. All to make the other person think of him as loveable and enough. He thought that the naked, honest version of himself did not deserve any kind of love.
In his love life, he constantly cheated on his girlfriends because we always reflect our inner world into the outside. People who think they are not enough, often think that their beloved is also not enough. In consequence, they constantly sabotage their own relationships because they are looking for something better, someone prettier, someone richer. This is the disease of more.
He also cheated constantly because he needed that confirmation of the other girls that he is enough, that he is loveable and desirable. And, in consequence, he lost his soulmate, because she could not stand being constantly being cheated on.
The crazy thing was that he did not know that his own opinion about himself was bad. He always portrayed a strong, loveable persona, and invented this guy who seemed to have it all. This was all to hide that fact that he thinks of himself as nothing. He got all his gadgets (cars, watches, houses) in order to hide.
It was all an act. Because in my opinion, his biggest fear was that people would find out. That they would find out that he is a nothing, and that he is worthless.
According to Marissa, this constant negative, harmful self-talk is the true cause of depression, and to overcome depression and the disease of I am not enough; we must take control of our self-verbalisation. Our thoughts and what we say to our self daily is meant here.
So, how do we treat the disease of “I am not enough”?
3 Things you need to know about your brain….
Your Mind Does What It Truly Thinks You Want It To Do, And What It Truly Believes Is In Your Own Best Interest
Your mind has only one thing in mind, to protect you. That is it. Our ability to worry, was at one time in history, an evolutional advantage. It enabled us to anticipate dangers in the future and avoid them. Avoiding dangers meant survival. If our ancestor, for example, hesitated when the grass moved, it could mean for them that there was a fucking tiger behind the grass waiting to eat them. So fear, and hesitation, and overthinking were essential to surviving.
Problem: This software is pretty outdated, but still runs in our brain.
Let us say, for example, you have an exam, and you suck in mathematics. You constantly tell yourself; “This is killing me, this is torture, learning is just pure pain for me”.
Your brain listens to every word you say. Your brain is there to protect you, so if you say, “This exam is hell for me, and I’m gonna die Wednesday at the university”, guess what is going to happen?
Your brain will give you a migraine, for example, or you get the flu or whatever. You will find a physical and mental reason not to go because your brain is focused on avoiding things that hurt you.
So be extra cautious of what you think—every word matters. Taking the subway to work when your car is broken is not “hell”. Avoid sentences like “if I fail this exam, my life is gonna end”. Your life is not going to end you moron.
This is one of the biggest causes of depression: chronic negative, destructive, hurtful self-talk.
Imagine that a person says to themself: “My life is hell, This is all meaningless, nothing good will ever happen to me”. After years of burning in these harmful mantras, your brain will believe you. It will think that it will never get better and that the best strategy to protect yourself from all this pain and fear and danger is to kill yourself.
Let that sink in for a minute. You just learned in the simplest way how mental disorders work, and one of the many reasons people commit suicide.
Our Brain’s Job is to help us SURVIVE not to make us HAPPY — Marissa Peer
I believe that if you just change up a couple of words with a patient, their whole pattern of thinking can be broken up. So to make yourself feel enough, you must do the opposite. Instead of constantly saying to yourself critically, hurtful, self-destructive sentences, you must praise yourself. Say to yourself daily that you are enough. Write it on your mirror or make a sticky note and put it on your fridge. Change your entire vocabulary use. Create a positive inner vocabulary ecosystem. Switch phrases like ”No matter what I do, nothing works“, to something like “I am resourceful; eventually, I will run out things that don’t work, and I will get what I want”.
I heard the motivational speaker Eric Thomas once say that he calls his bad days “character-building days”. I thought that was beautiful.
So, one of the ingredients for the recipe of happiness is to take control of your thoughts.
Trick Your Mind By Making Unfamiliar Things Familiar And Familiar Things Unfamiliar
Humans are, by nature, creatures of habit.
Familiarity, for humans, meant for thousands of years, survival.
Imagine one of our ancestor’s, thousands of years ago in the stone age. To survive, we needed a system that would drive us away from danger and move us to pleasure and safety. Thus the pain and pleasure system developed. Let us say our ancestors had to figure out if they could eat something; they would go by trial and error first. If they ate something and it did not kill them, and it was sweet, they would eat it again. Thus, making it familiar. If something was bitter and toxic, we would avoid it. Making it unfamiliar. Our mind tries to move us to pleasure and away from pain.
You can choose what to link Pain and Pleasure too!
So, the next time you go to the gym, control the words you say to yourself. Instead of thinking “I hate this gym, sports is killing me”, think positive and think ”This is difficult, yes, but I love it because I decided that having a healthy, beautiful body is worth the struggle”.
So, get active and choose what is familiar to you. If binging Netflix and eating junk food all day is familiar, then you have to make this unfamiliar. Say to yourself while eating junk food, this is hurting me, this is not good for my health and you will be surprised how your brain will come up with strategies to protect you from the things that cause pain for you. The problem is that your brain sometimes does not know that something that feels good to you (such as eating a delicious cup of ice cream) is actually a bad thing. So, identify what is good for you and what is bad for you and rewrite your own software. If you are curious about steps on how to change your habits, click here for my article about habits.
So how does this help me to feel enough? How can I boost my self-esteem with this?
The way you feel about everything comes down to the pictures you make in your head and the words you say to yourself. So, we learned that depression is a result of chronic negative, hurtful, self-destructive self-talk. So what do we need to do to reverse engineer this process? What do we need to make familiar to become happy, fulfilled, and feel enough?
Make criticism unfamiliar and praise familiar.
You must praise yourself constantly and develop habits that show you how great things really really are! Say to yourself daily that you are enough. When you do something nice, say you are awesome, because you fucking are! Make praise familiar and link it to pleasure; you deserve to be praised. Make sticky notes on your fridge that remind you that you are enough. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself, and kick out those people who constantly make you feel bad about yourself. In the end, the only person that can fill whatever trauma or void you have in your soul is yourself. And you do that by loving yourself and telling yourself what you love about yourself. I have, for example, a daily exercise where I write things down that I am grateful for. Click here to read my article about a simple exercise that will make you more grateful about your life and about yourself.
How To Become Immune To Criticism
The last important thing is that now you have made self-love and positive self-talk familiar is to make destructive, hurtful criticism from yourself or from others unfamiliar.
It is ok to make mistakes and let other people point out those mistakes because then we can learn and get better. But negative criticism from others and your self is really something that can cause a lot of pain for yourself.
In the following video, three techniques describe how to deal with criticism that helped me a lot.
I hope that you realise after reading this article that you are not your patterns, not your behaviour and that you are a beautiful soul who is and always was enough.
Call to Action
- Write down ten things that are amazing about you!
- Write down ten things that are amazing about your life!
- Put a sticky note on your laptop, fridge, and door that says I am enough and let it stay there for 7 days.
- Click here and do the 6 Phase Meditation to improve your gratitude and develop the habit of self-praise.