At our high school reunion, an old friend leaned towards me and whispered in my ear, “Oh man! It seems that my best isn’t good enough.” I asked him what do you mean? He said: “I spent the last 25 years of my life working hard until I became a department manager in a big multinational company and I did my best to provide my kids with a good education and today after seeing all my old friends, I just feel like a failure and that all the years that have past went in vain.”
Many people experience certain situations in life where they feel like somewhat of a failure. However, they are productive citizens, who have just never been able to feel they are good enough. They try so hard but always seem to come up short. Even when they succeed, they feel as if they just gotten lucky.
Dear reader, if you sometimes feel like those who see themselves as failures whose best is not good enough I have to congratulate you as you have developed a great healthy self-image.
Now, let’s try to change these false beliefs about yourself because it is not about what you have achieved in life but it is more about how you feel about what you have achieved that truly matters. Most people, who feel they cannot measure up, feel so because they suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of self-worth.
Some psychologists think that many people, for various reasons, are following lifestyles that are bound up in cycles of rejection and failures. So, what exactly is a “lifestyle?” Basically, it is a concept developed by the pioneer psychologist Alfred Adler. Adler believed that understanding a person’s goals is a key to understanding a person’s behaviour. He believed that all of us are following individual “life lines” or paths toward specific goals. Everything we do is oriented towards some goal, whether or not we understand what that goal is.
We have to understand that our feeling of low self-esteem has its roots in our childhood. Maybe we had critical parents or one of our parents favoured a sibling over another. Something that happened to us during our childhood, created in ourselves a feeling of rejection and distress. So, we developed a sense of belief that no matter what we do it will not be good enough. That’s what Adler meant.
And when we grow older, we look at our friends or siblings and we start to compare their achievements to ours. And even if we are satisfied with our accomplishments we immediately feel a great sense of unworthiness as soon as we compare ourselves to anyone else. It is just the habit of rejection that we have created over the years since our childhood and you know what? Most of us are not even aware that we are having these negative emotions. It is subtle in our subconscious mind.
One of the most obvious symptoms of low self-esteem is the tendency of feeling guilty for no specific reason. You can feel guilty if you hang up the phone in the face of an obnoxious telemarketer who is trying to sell you life insurance. Or you can feel guilty because you called a friend at the wrong time of the day. It is important to get over this feeling of guilt you developed through the years. The problem with this feeling of guilt is that most of those people who believe that their best is not good enough have a conscience that’s too big and thus magnifies shortcomings and failures and won’t let you forget past mistakes, even though they have long since been repented or paid for.
Please remember that your conscience is a wonderful gift from the Creator, and it is doing what it is designed to do if it keeps you from stealing, cheating, etc. But if it keeps whispering to you that you are a bad person simply because you failed a course in school 15 years ago or because you don’t spend enough time visiting your family members then it is overdoing it a bit.
So if life had taken you into a course where you are not satisfied, I recommend you to do the following immediately: First, stop feeling guilty or even don’t allow anyone to make you feel guilty. Second, understand that you cannot make everyone love you or approve of what you are doing. Third, forgive yourself for past mistakes. Fourth, do only what you love, do it well and then think how to make a living out of it — that is the key for both success and peace of mind.
Dear reader, there is nothing stronger than your self-belief. No one can ever take this away from you and trust me if you are a janitor, you enjoy being a janitor and you are happy, then I would say you are greatly successful regardless of what people might say. It is your life, live it to the fullest and enjoy every bit of it.
Karim El-Shakankiry is an internationally renowned life coach, motivator and public speaker. He is the founder of “yesUcan” organization for personal and corporate coaching based in Montreal, Canada. He is the first to introduce life coaching in the Middle East and is the president of the Arab Coaching Federation.