What things do you tell yourself daily? What is the theme of your dominant thoughts?Please write down the first phrase or sentence that came into your mind and see if any of the following match yours. “I am not thin/pretty/in shape enough”, “I am not working hard enough toward my career”, “My relationship is not good enough”, “I am not paying enough attention to the suffering around the world” Or “I need to work harder to get the promotion”, “I need to be more attractive”, “I need to make more money”, “I need to be a better wife/husband/partner/parent/son/daughter”
Psychologist Charles Fernyhough defined “inner speech” in his book The Voices Within as the scientific term for “talking to yourself in your head.” While our inner dialogue echoes our thoughts and perspectives, our thoughts and perspectives shape our relationship with ourselves, which in turn, create our reality. Sometimes, these thoughts motivate us to readjust our focus, make positive changes, and take action as we need. But oftentimes, there’s an overwhelming sense of fear and disappointment in what we are telling ourselves. We feel rejected, judged, and desperate. The “I am not_____ enough” and “I need to____” voices ended up leading us to a place of loneliness, guilt, shame, and depression. As the judge inside our head waves his measuring rod toward us, we surrender to that critical voice and wait to be sentenced without appeal.
Just like the food and nourishment we put into our body will affect our physical health, the things we tell ourselves daily will impact our mental and spiritual health.
As human beings, we all have needs, desire and longing that are fundamental to our existence. Research concluded that the top four psychological needs include self-esteem, autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
- Self-esteem— “I am a good person with positive qualities”
- Autonomy/Self-expression—“I can be my true self”, “I can be respected for who I am”
- Competence— “I am capable and useful”
- Relatedness/Intimacy—“I feel close and connected to the people who are important to me”, “I am loved”
When people’s psychological needs are not being met, they gravitate toward external sources for validation of self-esteem, autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Underlying your inner dialogue, what needs are you trying to fulfill? What’s your deepest desire of all? “If I am more attractive, I will be loved.”, “If I get into the most successful company, I will be approved as competent.”, “If I stand up to social injustice, I will be seen as a good person”
What if your achievement, appearance, and relationships do not define you for who you are? Despite the harsh circumstances, the gossips around you, and the inner critic that lays every imperfection under a magnifying glass, you are worthy, valid, acceptable, important, strong and loved. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are beautiful and broken. You are perfectly imperfect.
There are always things that we want to change in our life. But that does not make you a “not good enough” person. You can choose to strive for your aspirations, dreams, and hopes without the insecurities and fear. You are given the permission to enjoy fully the person you are, the relationships you have, and the life you’re living in the present while continuing to harbor the dreams that keep you growing and stretching into the future. This moment, you are right where you’re supposed to be. You are human. You are enough.
“You were enough before, you are enough now, and you will continue to be enough as you become more of who you were made to be” – Melissa Camara Wilkins
Reference and Further Readings
- Black, J. (2016, November 23). The Running Conversation in Your Head. The Atlantic.
- Sheldon, K. M., Elliot, A. J., Kim, Y., & Kasser, T. (2001). What is satisfying about satisfying events? Testing 10 candidate psychological needs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 325339.
- Wei, M., Shaffer, P. A., Young, S. K., & Zakalik, R. A. (2005). Adult attachment, shame, depression, and loneliness: The mediation role of basic psychological needs satisfaction. Journal of counseling psychology, 52(4), 591.
- Wilkins, M.C. What It Means to Be Enough. Retrieved September 8, 2020