Enough is enough.

A friend of mine lost her wedding ring while Trick-or-Treating, so I’ve been walking the block at a slow pace, head down, searching for it. (She found it a couple of days later.)

While walking, I found myself in this thought and prayer gestalt, just turning over my day with God, and I found myself dwelling on the weird relationship each of us has with ourselves. If you love yourself too much it ends up funny, like Gaston in Beauty and the Beast. But most people I know have the opposite problem.

I thought about eating disorders, and the sad trap of someone never being thin enough, the need to dominate their own body, and at the bottom of it the hatred of one’s own body because it’s too fat.

Would someone with anorexia eventually reach a place where she felt, “Okay, this is thin enough. Now I can love myself”? I don’t think so. I think that’s the nature of the disorder.

It’s not just about thinness. We sabotage ourselves in so many ways. Someone who feels she isn’t good enough is never good enough.

I’m not talking about pride. I’m talking about a healthy love of self, aka self-respect, the way this writer talks about her feelings about her own body.

Someone I know is a professional success but will say “I don’t know, I was just lucky.” It’s as if someday everyone will uncover this person as a professional fraud, and the degree and the publications and the prestigious job are all a mistake.

I feel that way about my writing sometimes, the “This doesn’t count” feeling where really, I’m just a failure for one reason or another. If I were regularly on the New York Times bestseller list, would I still feel that way? Probably. Probably I’d tell myself it was just a fluke, or I was just lucky, or it was all because of my agent.

So when is enough enough? For all of us wandering around in a lack-of-self-love stupor, is it a kind of emotional anorexia, where we keep moving the goalposts so we’re not worthy of our own esteem? When can we say, “Okay, this is enough. I can love myself now”?


  1. Ana

    A very rough para-phrase: “The only difference between people who have a sense of love and belonging, and people who constantly long for it, is that the people who have a healthy sense of love and belonging BELIEVE THEY ARE WORTHY of love and belonging. Thats it”

    Brene Brown, shame researcher. Youtube her TEDxHouston. I cant recommend highly enough.

    1. iGrrrl

      My exact thought. Here’s the link to the whole talk:

      Totally worth the time.

      1. philangelus

        Thanks, guys — I’ll check that out later!

  2. Sara Ann Denson

    I needed this posed to me today. Today.

    1. philangelus

      Thank you. I’m glad you found it useful.

  3. Lorraine E. Castro

    This is such a common problem for us women. As long as we define ourselves by the standards of 7th Avenue, we are lacking and we will continue to beat ourselves up for that lack.

    What needs to happen is that we recognize our bodies are currently the holders of our divine souls, no matter what they look like. We need to look within for the grace and beauty we all hold as human beings and love ourselves for the incredible gift of this life.

    1. philangelus

      I recently read a weblog entry where the writer said Madison Avenue stole our self-esteem and is selling it back to us at a steep markup.

      It’s so very hard to see the divine nature in other people, let alone in ourselves. 🙁

  4. Sheryl

    I can absolutely relate to this, it’s something I struggle with daily. I feel like I’m expected to be utterly perfect yet I feel like I’m never a good enough (insert description). If I’m playing with the kids (trying to be a good parent), I’m neglecting the home (bad housekeeper). If I’m trying to create a clean home then I’m clearly not paying enough attention to the kids, which flips me into bad parent territory (don’t even get me going on the fact that my full time job prevents me from being the Most Awesome Room Mom Ever.). If I make a meal that is prepackaged, I obviously don’t care about my family’s health. If I make a mistake or forget something, I am clearly a horrid person. It stinks and I’ve been considering therapy for a long time. I just need to go.

    1. philangelus

      The expectations piled on us and which we pile on ourselves are just intense, aren’t they? A lot of that has to do with the media and advertising, showing us we’re never quite as perfect as the people in the pictures. And part of it is societal.

      The problem is we’re bombarded with these messages so often that we internalize them, and then the bar is just too high to get over.

      When we do get over the bar, inevitably we raise our own bar.

  5. peterhobbs1

    Well said, enough is enough, I am always suprised that people can have such low self esteem, but I understand that it is usually caused by some act in their past, some relationship, or some catastrophic (to them) event. It jolts them over to the “unworthy” side and it is a very long trip back to worthiness for them, if they ever make it at all.

    Thanks for the post, very well done.

    1. iGrrrl

      Peter, I don’t want to start something in Our Host’s space (especially since I’m new to it), but you don’t have to have any trauma in your past to get the message that you’re not worthy. In our current culture, you just have to be female.
      http://emilylhauserinmyh ead.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/like-a-girl-yes-again/

    2. philangelus

      I agree with iGrrrl that for most people I know who are struggling with low self-esteem, they don’t have something catastrophic in their past. Instead it was the day to day grind of never being quite good enough to please those whom they wanted to please. Parents, teachers, friends — just a day-in-day-out experience of never being quite good enough, never satisfying others’ expectations, and eventually never satisfying their own.