Peggy came in to the clinic to sort out a few problems that all stemmed from feeling not good enough. She was a middle aged woman with a loving partner, and a rewarding job. The only trouble was that she shied away from her partner’s affections, and she could never speak up at work when things were upsetting her. This had been going on for decades. But now, she began to develop symptoms of anxiety which brought on nausea and a feeling of dread in her gut.
Peggy could have gone on for years, possibly for the rest of her working life, feeling that she couldn’t speak up at work. She could have put her issues around affectionate touch down to middle age, even though she had been a little this way for 15 years, but now chronically so. But the unconscious mind is an interesting thing. It gave her anxiety to boot, so that she would have to do something about it. As the anxiety became too uncomfortable, she took action.
Growing up ‘not good enough’
A person’s upbringing has a profound effect upon their sense of self worth. When we are young we interpret the world around us in relation to ourselves, and we make a personal meaning out of it. This is how we learn. In fact by the age of three we have already developed a sense of who we are and what we are worth, based upon our upbringing. Sometimes we interpret events that have nothing to do with us, as our fault or, what we deserve. Other times a child can be treated poorly and the message is loud and clear – ‘You are not good enough’.
Some of the most common things parents say to their children are:
- You must be stupid
- Don’t worry about them, noone is looking at you
- Can’t you be more like you sister?
- The list goes on…
If your upbringing was easy to interpret in a negative way… perhaps people said things to you that made you feel unworthy, or perhaps they fought a lot, or were undemonstrative in their love… you may have developed a ‘not good enough’ mindset. The influential people in your life are predominantly your parents, up until the age of 9-11, and then your peers take over the reigns. However bullying at school or with siblings or even the neigbour’s kids can significantly contribute to the ‘not good enough’ mindset, before the age of nine, as well as after. It is a case by case issue.
Resolving Peggy’s anxiety took three sessions. We explored her family life when she was a child, and found some very definite messages of worthlessness, despite the fact that her mother loves her very much. Peggy’s dad left when she was 12 and sent the message that Peggy was not worth sticking around for. Prior to his leaving, the parents fought regularly, sending the message that hostility was all that the family knew and all that they deserved. After her dad left, Peggy and her remaining family moved house and even country, on a frequent basis. This instability gave Peggy the message that nothing lasts, so why bother. This fed into her prior feelings of not good enough.
Peggy’s issues with affection are not surprising, after watching her mum and dad, but it is no wonder that Peggy never felt she could speak up at work either. Her feelings and needs at home, as a child, were never considered. She literally felt that she didn’t count.
Why was the anxiety starting now, after all these years? For Peggy, it came down to the fact that things had escalated in her work, where she was given more responsibility and her feelings of ‘not good enough’ were challenged beyond her comfort levels.
Not everyone with the ‘not good enough’ mindset will develop anxiety, but everyone with that mindset will be sacrificing themselves and their potential. So, are you good enough? If you believe ‘no’, you might want to get off that treadmill and find a new way of seeing the world, and your place in it. Horizons Clinical Hypnotherapy Noosa.