While having lunch with a friend recently, he said something that particularly caught my ear. “Some days I feel so lost. I can’t seem to get it right. I’m just not good enough.”
“At what?” I replied. “At life,” he sighed.
When we look at the world around us and compare ourselves to what others are doing, we have a tendency to see ourselves wrong—to believe that our thoughts and actions aren’t working—that we are failing. As we observe others, we may see them happy, fulfilled, and content, so they must being doing something right.
But in truth, we really can’t ever get it wrong because we are not meant to have the same success, failures, or outcomes as anyone else. In fact, we are all unique, so we can’t have the same experience as anyone else.
So why do we beat ourselves up?
Low self-esteem can come from many sources and is often due to our programming—our buy-in of beliefs picked up along our life path. However, many of those beliefs, especially the self-sabotaging ones, did not come from our inner being—they came from others and we inadvertently subscribed to them.
We always have the power to change our beliefs regardless of where they originated. Beliefs are only thoughts repeated long enough to form chronic patterns of thought. Beliefs are not static—they’re dynamic and change over time. And if a belief no longer serves us, we can choose to focus on new and better-feeling thoughts, and, in turn, our beliefs will also evolve.
A wise mentor, M Alistair Green, once taught me, “There is never anything wrong with you. You are exactly who you are supposed to be at all times—and that is the only person you can ever be.” When I take those words to heart, I allow myself to breathe and relax into myself. I stop worrying about how others perceive me and learn to trust my inner being.
When we listen to our intuition—our inner guidance—whatever we do and say is always the right thing at the time. Perhaps we can look back later and observe that the consequences of our choices didn’t bring us the result we wanted, but then we learn.
Knowledge is power.
Even as we continually strive to become better, we are always acceptable as we are. In fact, we’re always where we’re supposed to be in life—regardless of our situation.
If you’re feeling lost, here are a few tips to help you find your way home:
You are meant to be original. None of us is completely alike, and our physical bodies show this: Nobody looks exactly the same—not even identical twins. We all come in different heights, weights, colors, shapes, and sizes. And that is good. Our diversity is what makes us unique and strong in both our bodies and minds. Embrace your diversity—it’s what makes you, you.
You’ve been there, done that. When we’ve lived something, we have more than just a story—we have an experience. And with the wisdom we gain, we grow. Without even trying, we spread our knowledge through our stories and teach others through our example. But remember—words don’t teach, experience teaches. We all need to learn our lessons in our own way, and there is always something new to learn. Be willing to be both the student and the teacher.
Mistakes are lessons. Every success is a celebration, every failure a lesson in disguise—if we choose to look at life that way. Again, it’s our choice. If we can see our mistakes as opportunities for learning, instead of opportunities to beat ourselves up, then mistakes are welcomed as a natural part of the learning process. There are numerous anecdotes and stories about how failure creates success (think of Thomas Edison), so believe this philosophy if you choose.
You can’t be objective. It is impossible to see oneself objectively. This is why we have relationships with others. All relationships are mirrors—they reflect our strengths and weaknesses. This is a good thing. Relationships provide us with extremely valuable data about the effect we’re having on the world around us. Our family and closest friends can remind us whom we are when we forget. Plus, relationships help us to become better thinkers, communicators, lovers, and contributors to humanity. We were never meant to go through life alone.
Don’t believe the hype. What the general public is doing, saying, and being is really none of our business. What matters most is what we are doing, saying, and being. When someone tells us, “You should do [this]…” politely thank him or her and do whatever makes sense to you. Opinions are only other people’s thoughts. And although sometimes opinions can bring us good perspective, we can still always choose for ourselves.
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg helps people find better balance and happiness in their work, relationships, and life—especially during transitions. Find out more at michaelsunnarborg.com