Are you an accomplished woman whose friends and family think you are amazing? How about you? Do you feel like you measure up to all your ideals? In spite of doing so many things and being a role model in your community, do you still feel unfulfilled? Somehow, no matter what you do, in so many aspects of life, you never feel you are enough. What's going on there?
You have the evidence that you are enough. So, why can't you stop feeling inadequate?
You, just as many other accomplished women, wind up feeling as if you are not sufficient in any of your roles. You feel guilty for not spending more time with your partner, your children, and even your career. Although you know there are only 24 hours in a day, you still feel guilty for not accomplishing more. You know you aren't inadequate. Your logical part of the brain has the data to prove it, but boy, do you believe it deep down. Your emotional part of the brain doesn't give you a break. This constant feeling of guilt and lacking is always simmering underneath. Somehow it seems the logical part of your brain is disconnected from your emotional part of the brain. How do we wind up being so fragmented? You can read about how trauma can cause us to be fragmented here.
Parents raise us to accomplish as best we can.
Your upbringing may have something to do with the fact that you often feel inadequate. Our families don't teach us how to feel good about ourselves, but instead to try to measure up to others' expectations. They do this with the best intentions to help us succeed in this world and to "make something out of ourselves." They give us praise for a job well done and are even proud of us, but, there is this notion that we always need to strive for more. Basically, the underlying message is, "You are not enough." They don't tell you this openly. They may not even think this way. Yet, this notion stays deeply within us, in our emotional brain, the one that we can't change just by thinking positively. Perhaps your parents may feel inadequate themselves. This kind of struggle tends to be generational. In other words, you mom, grandma, and great grandma probably felt the same.
The Logical brain tells you, you are fine, while the emotional brain won't let you feel good about yourself.
That sort of upbringing can lead to feeling fragmented between your rational and emotional brain. This chasm between reality and how we truly feel is not easy to manage. The logical brain understands you are good enough and there are too many demands in your life. You also know, you've accomplished many things in life, and that others appreciate you. On the other hand, the emotional brain was wired to respond to constant self-criticism, make us strive higher and higher, and never be happy with the way we are. Even if others don't criticize us, we do this to ourselves. Similarly, when others praise you, I bet you quickly disregard this and don't enjoy the feeling. Perhaps, it feels strange because we’re not used to basking in praise and glory. Although your family may be proud of you, it probably isn't your family's culture to enjoy basking in praise. It could also be that your parents didn't want to "spoil" you in their effort to avoid making you too proud or full of yourself. They may have even worried that if they praise you, you will become lazy or selfish, who knows? Perhaps feeling inadequate propelled us to over function and accomplish a lot, but it can also lead to over-functioning.
Corporate culture perpetuates feeling of inadequacy
Even our corporate culture creates an atmosphere that fosters feelings of inadequacy. I don't mean to be a conspiracy theorist but just look at all salaried positions. Everyone is overworked, and you never feel as if you have finished your work. There is always something more to do and always something upcoming that will need to be done. Do you get what I'm saying? It's not necessarily that someone created these rules so women, or anyone else for that matter, will feel incompetent. However, it turns out that this kind of structure contributes to women feeling inadequate. The reason why I'm bringing all this up is to bring more awareness to the challenges women face. Thus, we always aim to measure up to different ideals of how a woman is supposed to be. While you are expected to go "above and beyond your duties" at work, you are also expected to be a sex goddess, a dedicated mother, and an amazing homemaker. How do you measure up?
Cultural ideals we women try to measure up to.
What is it you try to measure up to? We women, try to measure up to ideals that society creates and then we accept as our guideline of how we should be. The community and media feed us these epic stories of the different archetypes women should be. Think of all the lovely stories about mothers for instance. Scriptures, poems, stories, or movies idealize women in certain ways. We all have a cultural and religious background where there was an epic woman who was the most chaste and a top-notch mother figure.
You are enough, remember that
Feeling inadequate is very common for many high achieving women. With the best intentions, your parents raised you to strive for more. They often raise us not to express our own emotions. This kind of upbringing leads to us not being in tune with our wishes, dreams, desires, and so on. Thus, we may wind up chasing dreams that aren't even our dreams. Then we compare ourselves to people who are doing things that we may not even care about deep down. Yes, we do this. Don't beat yourself down. We all do many irrational things. Comparison contributes to our feeling of inadequacy. So, pausing and living more organically can help us feel good, just where we are. Figuring out who you truly are, what kind of life you enjoy and what fulfills you will most likely help you realize you are enough. And, that's amazing.
What happens with family and friends when you stop over-functioning?
Your family and friends are going to be just fine. As a matter of fact, they will be happy you give them empowerment and a feeling they matter and can contribute too. By letting yourself be vulnerable and requesting help, you allow them to show you how much they appreciate you. This is a win-win situation I'd say. What do you think? Leave a comment below.