May 23, 2019, by Issy
Being ‘Good Enough’
I haven’t posted for a while, but wanted to share something I’ve been working on to do with my own mental health in that time.
I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last few months feeling a bit inadequate. Not really good enough.
That’s no big change for me, I’ve always had low self-esteem. However, what is a big change for me is that I’ve actively decided I have had enough of not giving myself any of the love and credit I give others, and am trying to do something about it.
Here’s the situation I’ve been struggling with. Despite appearing confident in the work I do as an ambassador or public speaking, even on placements with my course, inside my head it’s not the same. I’m a natural introvert, I feel most content curled up under my covers, and feel genuinely threatened by the pressure (I perceive to be) out there to fit into social norms.
I spend a lot of time being there for others and giving advice (or at least trying to… often my advice is best not taken!) and I do love it, it’s what makes me me. I just sometimes forget to show myself that same compassion.
So, after trying and failing to help myself, I decided that it was probably time to get some professional help. I’ve had CBT before to help deal with panic attacks, which was pretty successful, so, through talking to my parents, my tutor and my GP, decided this would probably be a good route to go down again.
(I’m lucky in that I’m already known to the service as I have had previous contact, but I appreciate that for first appointments, especially from psychology services at the NHS, the wait can be shockingly and somewhat unacceptably long. No-one’s fault – just a lot of people in need trying to access a severely underfunded and overlooked service. I’ve linked at the bottom some places I know of which are self-refer and can have shorter waiting times)
The core principle of CBT is to identify, respond to and change our thinking processes and behaviours in response to an uncomfortable situation or prominent belief, so that we can have a healthier outlook and way of dealing with them – in turn, improving our mental wellbeing.
Take my low self-esteem for instance. The core belief I hold on to is that I’m ‘not good enough’, and trust me, I want to let go of that grip, but it’s not that easy.
An example of what my psychologist and I have worked on over several months now (it isn’t a quick fix, it really does take time and effort) is to challenge this belief with evidence against it. We have been compiling a list of positive qualities I have been able to identify as ‘homework’ (yep – even adult life throws homework at you as it turns out!). The way this works is that I have to give examples from since the last time we met which show positive personality traits about myself and write them down as ‘evidence’ for myself.
From a list of literally one positive aspect of myself I could think of – that I was told that I was ‘quite intelligent’, we have now made a list of over 40 good things about myself that we have identified together, all with specific points of evidence (some with loads!). They include having a strong sense of assertiveness – the evidence for this being that I can stand up for myself and what is best for me, such as knowing when to seek help for the way I was feeling. Also, turns out I’m quite a trustworthy person – I could show so many examples of when I had upheld someone’s trust and been loyal to them – the words and examples coming out of my mouth surprised me, someone who didn’t think they had any good things about themselves worth noting!
This means that whenever I find myself thinking ‘I’m not good enough’ I can look at this list and see that actually, it might not be the case – you can’t argue with genuine evidence to the contrary!
What I want to stress though is that you must understand that CBT, or any intervention, won’t be right for everyone, or suit everyone. We are all different. CBT worked for me, and I felt that at a time where everyone is feeling the pressure to be ‘good enough’ in their exams, having ways you can still show you are good enough may be useful to the odd reader. Maybe.
Some places you can seek psychological support:
(NB I found myself reading this before I posted it, wondering if it was ‘good enough’ to post – it still creeps into my mind all the time! I was going to delete it and start again, but hey, I don’t have to be perfect. Good enough is all I need right now, and I think it’s met that threshold!)