Many women battle inadequacy throughout their lives. After all, we’re constantly trying to juggle professional lives, parenting, and basic household responsibilities while looking fabulous and keeping our partners happy. And since our daily lives are essentially a house of cards, all it takes is one small mistake for everything to come tumbling down.
Unfortunately, this fear of inadequacy spills over into many areas of a woman’s life. When women fail to meet their own unfairly-high standards, they’re more likely to experience anxiety and depression. Furthermore, these fears make women far less likely to apply for promotions than their male counterparts. And with nearly 75 percent of teenage and adult women feeling “not good enough,” isn’t it time we do something to change the story?
If you battle these feelings of inadequacy, then start retraining your brain with these four tips:
1. Focus on progress, not perfection.
When we wait until we can do something perfectly or feel 100 percent certain we’re ready, we ultimately lose out on opportunities and experiences. Ultimately, these missed opportunities leave us feeling worthless and discouraged.
Instead of focusing on that bright, perfect future, we should instead focus on progress. This approach allows us to view our accomplishments through the scope of the past, present, and future — meaning we can celebrate what we’ve done and set a path to move forward. Instead of focusing on perfection and giving up when you fall short, focus on your progress and strive to give your best in that moment.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others… ever!
As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” For many women, this is so true. We compare our bodies, our culinary skills, our involvement, and our children. However, when we constantly measure our successes based on the accomplishments of someone else, we instantly set ourselves up for feeling “not good enough.”
We must remember that each life journey is personal and unique, so our path will never look the same as someone else’s. Instead of comparing yourself to those around you, find ways to celebrate your successes and those of your loved ones in a way that doesn’t cause comparison or criticism.
3. Change your inner dialogue.
How many times have you made a simple mistake but continued to beat yourself up over it for days after? Honestly, we’re all guilty of dabbling in negative self-talk from time to time. However, this inner critic wreaks havoc in our lives. Negative self-talk causes increased stress and lower self-esteem, which can lead to decreased motivation and feelings of helplessness.
Luckily, there are many ways you can correct your cognitive distortions and ultimately hush that inner critic. Start with recognizing the moments when you jump into a negative headspace and try reframing the situation. Eventually, you’ll find that these negative thoughts happen less often.
4. Remember that you’re more than your mistakes.
We all make mistakes — it’s part of being human. One poor choice doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, though! Try to look at each mistake or shortcoming not as a moment of failure, but as an opportunity for growth. Studies show that people who actively push against negativity and actively engage in a growth mindset perform better and feel greater satisfaction in their lives.
This approach doesn’t just mean being gentle with yourself, though. You also should learn to reframe feedback from coworkers and friends, too. When someone provides critical feedback or offers a suggestion, don’t take it as a personal attack. More often than not, the people in your life are merely trying to help. And if you’re the person providing feedback, remember to clearly distinguish between the person and their behaviors. This tiny bit of clarity will have major positive impacts on your relationships.
If you’re not feeling “good enough” right now, know that you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a feeling that nearly every woman experiences. While it may seem impossible to break the cycle of the constant feelings of inadequacy, know that many women are taking small steps towards a better perception of themselves. By focusing on progress, changing your inner dialogue, and embracing yourself as you are, you can also break free of those feelings of inadequacy and start to see just how wonderful you are because you are enough now and always.
Previously Published on Moms.com