So much of personal and spiritual development work tells us to banish the feeling of being “not enough.”
The path of self-love teaches us to believe we are enough so we can love ourselves.
At least once a week (probably more, if I read all the newsletters in my inbox), I receive a message from one of my spiritual teachers reminding me:
You are enough.
Why is feeling that we are enough so important?
Why Feeling Enough Is Crucial
Our Deepest Fears
Tony Robbins teaches that all fears reduce down to the two most basic fears:
- The fear that we are not enough.
- The fear that we won’t be loved.
Even those reduce down further: the fear is that if we are not enough, then we won’t be loved.
I’m currently reading Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, in which he opines that our two most basic fears are:
- The fear of social humiliation.
The fear of death.
My first instinct was to push back, because Tony’s teachings are so embedded in my system. But as I considered it, I realized that Jordan and Tony are saying the same thing.
It’s About Survival
This fear that we won’t be loved goes to our survival.
The longing to belong is a core human need. We survived as a species through tribalism. If you were outcast from the tribe — because you were not loved — you wouldn’t survive.
The feeling of belonging is essential to our health. According to neuroscientist John Cacioppo, author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection
Loneliness shows up in measurements of stress hormones, immune function, and cardiovascular function. Lonely adults consume more alcohol and get less exercise than those who are not lonely. Their diet is higher in fat, their sleep is less efficient, and they report more daytime fatigue. Loneliness also disrupts the regulation of cellular processes deep within the body, predisposing us to premature aging.
Once we understand the essential nature of love and belonging to our health and survival, we can see that Robbins and Peterson are saying the same thing.
The fear that we are not enough, or of social humiliation, is the fear that we will be outcast from the tribe, that we will not be loved. The fear that we will not be loved is the fear of death.
Therefore, the fear that we are not enough is a fear of death.
“Not Enough” is a Cultural Fear That Perpetuates Itself
The fear that we are not enough is insidious. It lurks beneath the surface, and manifests in everything: our drive for more followers, readers, fans, clients, deals, money, and so on.
There are so many ways to feel that we are not good enough.
This can create a problem that spreads beyond ourselves.
How we feel about ourselves is how we feel about others. So when we feel that we are not enough, we look at others and see them as not enough.
This closes us off to love and creates separation. Without love and belonging, we are all at risk of dying.
This is our current culture. Separation. Judgment. Tribalism. Us vs them. Individual over community.
Not enoughness is killing us.
This is why so many people promote the message that you are enough.
But there’s a catch…
The Catch–22 of “Good Enough”
If you have a standard for excellence and outstanding, the concept of going with “good enough,” can feel counter to your ethos.
When is good enough ever good enough?
I’m sure you’ve seen those memes with all the things that would be wrong if we accepted 99% instead of 100%.
If we want to grow, to excel, we need to push ourselves to be better than we were yesterday. We must raise our standards beyond “good enough.”
The very nature of pushing ourselves to be better today than we were yesterday means that on some level we believe that yesterday we weren’t good enough. And yet to stay still is to stagnate.
Grow or die is the law of the universe.
So good enough causes us to fear to death by stagnation. But feeling that we are not good enough also causes us to fear death because we won’t be loved.
If we are not loved, we won’t belong. And if we don’t belong, then we will be outcast and on our own. And loneliness leads to death.
This feels like a no-win spiral of death.
Getting Out of the Trap
The quickest way to get out of the trap is to remember that you are enough, just as you are.