When we judge ourselves harshly, we come from this place of not being ‘good enough’. As a result of this, while sometimes we’re aware of our perfectionism, often, we’re not. We assume that because we feel inadequate that ‘obviously’ we’re not a perfectionist. But actually, if everything is about trying to be ‘good enough’ and yet, we never feel this way for longer than a hot minute, if at all, we’re not trying to be good enough. We’re trying to be the perfect version of good enough. 

Self-esteem means acknowledging all of you, not just your shortcomings. 

This idea of unworthiness, of not being good enough, is about persistently focusing on shortcomings. It’s perceiving our gifts, strengths, character and what makes us uniquely us as ‘shortcomings’ in the first place. Like when we shame us for being introverted or extraverted or not being like the ‘cool kids’. Our feelings of low self-worth also come from blaming imagined flaws for old hurts and losses and exaggerating actual flaws.

Given, though, that all almost-eight billion people on the planet have flaws, we’re judging ourselves for something that makes us literally no different to anyone else. 

Self-esteem is the sum of the thoughts that you feed you and the way that you treat you. It’s a habit. 

Self-esteem isn’t ordained on you, nor is it something you can only have if you’ve only had ‘good experiences’. It’s not what you have if your parents are ‘still together’ or you tick the boxes of society’s unrealistic standards and internalised ‘isms’, patriarchy and capitalism. Even the people you think have all the things you feel you need to start treating you like the worthwhile and valuable human being you are already, experience the same struggles. The things that you think are ‘missing’ don’t innoculate someone else with them against what you fear. We will all experience what I call life’s inevitables: stress, conflict, criticism, disappointment, loss and rejection. 

What’s the difference between not good enough, enough and perfect? Identify it. Compassionately explore what this means for you. If you judge a lot of what happens on how ‘good enough’ you are, there’s likely no difference perfect and not good enough. It’s ‘perfect’, or fail, and you move the goalposts on yourself. You’ve been trying to be something no one can be. 

Self-esteem is a habit, which means that you can adapt it and let go of anything that isn’t serving you, bit by bit, one step, one day at a time.

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