During this time of fear and uncertainty, something that’s been running rampant through my mind is something I like to call the “not enough” wound.
The “not enough” wound can manifest in a number of ways, but two of the major ways that it sabotages us is through our relationships to others and our relationship to food (my two favorite topics).
I’m gonna walk you through how feeling like I’m not enough has been manifesting for me during this quarantine and then give an example of how this feeling causes us to sabotage our relationship to food.
So buckle up!
At the core of many of our emotional eating habits is something I call the “not enough” wound.
The “not enough” wound is the perpetual sense that no matter what we do or how hard we try, we never feel like enough.
Not pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, kind enough, interesting enough, or cool enough.
It feels like you’re running on a treadmill to constantly prove your worth by achieving more, doing things for other people, or by constantly trying to lose weight.
The end goal perpetually feels out of reach and it leaves us in a cycle of never feeling good enough. Therefore we can never rest, relax, or accept ourselves.
This phenomenon has been the bane of my existence for as long as I can remember, and being quarantined is making me see all the ways in which I am still stuck in a cycle of trying to prove my value.
Every day I wake up and instantly throw myself into working on something. Often it’s cleaning or organizing. Sometimes I’ll frantically clean for a couple hours before I realize what I’m doing.
As I’m cleaning, I can hear this stressful voice in the back of my head whispering,
“Gosh, there’s so much to do and I’m never going to get through this, why isn’t anyone else cleaning? Why isn’t anyone helping me? Ughhhh.”
I start to feel resentful, wondering why I have to do the dishes when I really should be working (I already worked from home before the quarantine, so this aspect of things is unchanged for me).
Yesterday, in the midst of a frantic cleaning rampage, I was folding laundry when I got so upset that I had to pause. I said to myself,
“Whoaaaa girl. You are so upset right now! What are you so upset about?”
(This is a conversation I literally had with myself. I usually go into my room or the shower, sit down, and start talking to myself and I highly recommend doing this)!
As I noticed the anger that was boiling in the pit of my stomach, I realized that I just wanted someone to acknowledge me. I just wanted someone to cut me a break and say,
“Hey! Just so you know, you are amazing. I see all the work you do, and I’m really proud of you. Girl, you are enough. You don’t have to clean the house perfectly, or at all for that matter! You’re good. You’re allowed to rest.”
I just wanted someone to say,
“It’s okay for you to do nothing. I know things are scary and unknown, and it’s okay to not be productive right now. You don’t have to constantly work. You are allowed to just be.”
So I sat down and let it all out. In doing so, I realized that this wasn’t about the dishes or cleaning. Beneath my anger and frustration was just the “not enough” wound, the sense of unworthiness that was so used to cattle-prodding me around.
It wasn’t that I wanted someone else to acknowledge me (although that’s always nice).
It was that I needed to give myself permission to relax.
You see, this quarantine is bringing up the feeling of not being enough for me because I’m so used to doing more in order to feel like I’m enough. And there’s only so much to do while you’re on house arrest.
It’s uncomfortable for me to accept being unproductive without feeling guilty, without this voice in the background saying,
“Nope, you can’t rest, isn’t there something else you should be doing? You’ve gotta be productive. You can’t just sit here.”
The “not enough” voice will project the judgement we have about ourselves onto other people in order to convince us that,
“See, no matter how hard you work cleaning the house, no one notices. No one appreciates you. You’re not seen. You’re not valued. Wow, I knew this would happen. I’m just destined to be unappreciated.”
When really, it has nothing to do with other people. I just needed to appreciate myself.
In reality, I manifested that entire situation from my “not enough” wound, by cleaning the house in order to prove something and then projecting my sense of worth onto others. When I didn’t get a standing ovation for folding laundry (could I really expect one?) the “not enough” wound delighted in this opportunity to feed itself, saying,
“See! This is confirmation. No one cares… you’re not good enough.”
…………isn’t this crazy!?
My anger and frustration was coming from my discomfort allowing myself to be unproductive and the resistance I had to giving myself permission to just be. So, I kept throwing myself into menial tasks.
This is how we self-sabotage all the time.
We set up scenarios from the “not enough” wound (i.e., we make decisions and take actions that are a reaction to not feeling good enough) where we ultimately won’t be given the validation we seek or won’t be able to achieve our goal, only to interpret the results as evidence for the underlying belief that we’ll never be good enough.
We set ourselves up to be let down.
And then when we don’t get the validation we wanted, when we don’t achieve our goal, we throw up our hands and say, “Well you know what, this is why I don’t even try. Clearly, I’ll never be enough so I’m going to quit/cancel/not try anymore/accept my fate.”
When it comes to losing weight, it’s the exact same process. This is what it looks like:
I need to lose weight in order to be good enough ->
Goes on a diet ->
Eats a slice of cake after one day of dieting ->
“Not enough” wound rejoices in this newfound evidence, saying,
“See? I’m a failure and I’ll never be good enough. Might as well stop trying. I’ll always be this way.”
Here is an alternative way of responding to the “not-enough” wound:
“Wow, clearly something inside of me is calling to my attention since I just ate a whole box of cookies. Let me sit down and ask her/him/them what’s really going on right now. Oh wow, what I’m really feeling is loneliness and like I’ll never be lovable. Oh my gosh, sweet inner babe, ‘I love you! It’s okay that you just ate a whole box of cookies, I totally understand why you did that! I forgive you. It’s okay. I’m here for you. I love you. I’m not going anywhere.’”
In the first response (“I’m a failure”), we’re feeding the “not enough” wound and continuing to feed into a cycle of perpetually manifesting evidence to support this belief (continuing to set ourselves up to be let down).
In the alternative response, we’re not interpreting our circumstances as evidence of not being good enough, but rather as an opportunity to address the “not enough” wound head on.
In the alternative response, we’re dissolving the “not enough” wound by loving it.
But I swear, this works.
It works every time.
Yes, we have to be a little cringe-y and talk to ourselves like we’d talk to a five year old.
But you know what?
Being talked to like a five year old is exactly what the part of us that still feels like we’re not enough needs.
This wounded part of us literally needs the adult part of us to kneel down next to them, grab their shoulders, look them in the eye, and tell them how much we love them, are still there for them, and that it’s all going to be okay.
I implore us all to try this during this time of accentuated stress and anxiety in order to nurture our relationships to others and to ourselves.
We have a huge opportunity to make a positive impact on our relationships (to others, food, and most importantly OURSELVES) during this time of social distancing.
Right now, many of us who are at home have the opportunity to process our emotions as they arise and completely up-level our relationship to self-love.
The world could use a little extra love right now (and so could we).