“I am not enough.”
These four simple words have been shown to have a negative effect on mental health. If this belief system is taken to the extreme, it can even result in depression and suicide.
And it’s an equal opportunity phrase that applies across the board — to celebrities and CEOs of billion-dollar companies that might seem to “have it all.”
Therapist and author Marisa Peer even goes as far as to say that these four words represent the root of many diseases facing our society, as all of our self-doubts are anchored here, leading to immense stress. Peer, who has been voted Britain’s #1 therapist, has spent decades working with Olympic athletes, top celebrities and even royalty.
“The common denominator of most of our problems is that we don’t feel like we are enough — smart enough, good looking enough, talented enough, wealthy enough, lovable enough, et cetera,” explains writer Annamaria Nagy, while summing up Peer’s driving philosophy on the mindvalley.com blog.
The pictures in your mind
Your mind does what it truly thinks you want it to do, says Peer. The way you feel about any event — and the way your mind responds — is the result of two things: the pictures you make in your head and the words you say to yourself.
Peer boils it down to three simple principles:
- Your mind loves what is familiar.
- Your mind responds to what you tell it.
- You can change what you tell your mind.
Your mind loves what is familiar
“The ability to love and crave familiarity instinctively comes from our tribal days,” explains Nagy. When it comes to making changes in our lives, though, how do we work with this principle?
The key is to retrain our minds to make the unfamiliar familiar — and the familiar unfamiliar. While this sounds confusing, it’s actually simple: You need to focus your attention to that person you want to become.
Whenever you feel negative, familiar thoughts creeping in, redirect them to the person you are becoming, not the person you used to be. Since our brains love habit and crave familiarity, these new thoughts will become more familiar over time and, eventually, result in a habit.
Tell your brain what you want
Following are examples of internal conversations we have. Peer labels them as positive and negative conversations — and illustrates the resulting actions that occur.
Negative conversation with brain
“Ooooh … look at that pizza.”
“No, you’re on a diet. Have a salad.”
“When did you ever feel good with a salad? Have the pizza. And ice cream.”
The brain thinks it’s doing what you want it to do when it succumbs to the negative suggestions — because they’re familiar.
Positive conversation with brain
“That pizza looks great.”
“What looks greater, though? Being fit and healthy. How do you want to look and feel?Which choice will make you feel better in an hour — and tomorrow?”
Again, your brain does what it thinks you want. The key is to tell it convincingly. And this takes practice to make the negative self-talk unfamiliar ... and the really, really positive self-talk familiar.
Take charge of your beliefs
Remember — your brain reacts to the pictures in your head and the words that come out of your mouth. So, you need to make sure you believe this on a strong level and reinforce it regularly. You could say something like, “I’ve chosen to do this. I’ve chosen to feel great about it. And I’m more than enough.”
“First you make your beliefs,” says Peer. “Then your beliefs make you.” Whatever you want, link massive pleasure to it. Associate pain with not following through.
Changing your self-talk
Even though it seems that we’re often tuned into NNN — the Negative News Network — in our minds, we are fully in charge of what we tell ourselves. What often makes us depressed is our own self-talk and self-criticism.
“Did you know that, for the most part, we tend to reject praise and inject criticism?” asks Peer. “This is because, unfortunately, criticism is much more familiar to our minds.”
On the flip side, your own praise is far more effective than someone else’s. Think about it. How many times have you been reluctant to receive a compliment because you didn’t believe it yourself?
That’s why it’s so important to begin praising yourself, explains Nagy. Tell your mind a new story — with conviction and repetition. And it will respond:
- I’m a good wife/husband/mother/father/daughter/son.
- I’m clever and confident.
- I’m a loving friend.
- I handle money well.
- I’m bold, daring and creative.
Of all the things you tell yourself, remember to tell yourself the following — and really feel its truth:
“I am enough. I’ve always been enough. Now that I know I’m enough, others will know it, too.”
As you work with these principles, Peer advises that you always do these three things:
- Make anything that is negative unfamiliar with your self-talk.
- Make anything that is positive familiar.
- Use the words, “I am enough” as often as you can. Write them on your mirror, refrigerator, arm, everywhere.
You can watch Peer’s Tedx talk and learn more about her techniques at www.marisapeer.com. And watch her videos on YouTube.
It’s an inside job
Know that you can always rewrite your script. Until you can develop love for yourself, you won’t be able to find it out in the world.
Repeat after me, “I am enough.” And, if you want to have some fun — and take it to the next level — you could say, “I am more than enough. I am a rock star.”