Work, household chores, errands, or time with the kids … many of us struggle to feel as if we’ve done “enough,” telling ourselves, “I wasn’t that productive at work today, I should have gotten more done.” Or, “I’m too tired to cook dinner but I feel guilty getting takeout so often, I should be cooking more. I’m not doing enough at home.”
If you’re anything like me, you may have a hard time truly letting yourself relax knowing that you have done enough.
Here’s the deal: it’s not really about what we are or aren't doing. It’s about our being. Feeling that we don't do enough has nothing to do with what we do; instead, it’s about who we believe ourselves to BE.
When we walk around the world believing we aren't enough, we'll spend our lives collecting evidence for this core belief. “I’m not enough because I said something stupid, I didn’t get everything done at work today, I wasn’t there for my partner/child/family member the way they needed me to be.” On and on the self-criticism goes.
We believe we’re inadequate if we don’t “do” all the things others expect of us or that we lay out for ourselves. But somehow, no matter how hard we strive, we never quite “do” enough.
This is an unwinnable game. We keep trying to do enough in order to feel like we are enough. But until we actually believe that we ARE enough, whatever we DO will not be enough.
How do we break this cycle?
Recognizing that when you have that thought, “Did I do enough today?” it actually has nothing to do with what you accomplished that day and everything to do with your inner state of being.
After you acknowledge this deeper truth, the next step is to take responsibility.
Start by using the question, “Did I do enough today?” as a trigger for self-inquiry.
Every time you think that you should be doing more is actually a beautiful opportunity to shine a light inside yourself and ask, “Hmmm, in what way am I not honoring or believing that I am enough right now?”
Try taking a few deep breaths and repeating an affirmation, such as, “I’m imperfect and I’m enough.”
Then, acknowledge and appreciate what you've done that day by thinking of three things you did do or three things you appreciate about yourself. Include things such as “I made my daughter laugh,” or “I sent an email back to that person who reached out last week.” These might seem like small actions, but we deserve credit for taking the action.
To make this process a habit, try using “If-Then” language. Over two hundred studies have shown that people who use if-then language are about three times more likely than others to reach their goals!
According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, “If-then plans work because contingencies are built into our neurological wiring. Humans are very good at encoding information in ‘if x, then y’ terms and using those connections (often unconsciously) to guide their behavior.”
Try telling yourself this statement right now to program the process:
“If I think that I did not do enough, then I will take a moment to appreciate three things I have done today.”
You have the power to end the cycle of “never enough,” and it starts with believing that you ARE enough.
Once you're in this positive energy, you can ask yourself with curiosity, “Is there anything else I want to do today?” and see what arises. Whatever comes up, maybe another errand you want to run, will come from a place of genuine want instead of a sense of “should.” This is a subtle, yet important, difference in how you treat yourself while you’re getting things done, and it creates success with greater ease.
Meditation is another great way to calm the mind in these moments of self-doubt. Here's a free 30-Day Meditation Challenge that just takes five minutes a day.