Throughout the month of April, I’ve been talking about business in a series called Pondering Pentacles. This post was originally going to be only a few paragraphs within another post, but as I started writing it, I realized there was a lot to say! If you want to start or grow your business but have been plagued by the fear that you ‘aren’t good enough,’ I hope this will give you some useful points to consider.
The fear that we are not good enough is a core theme that is almost universal among humans. This is a mindset that cripples people from exploring creative avenues, a fear that squashes many would-be entrepreneurs. This is a belief that, left unchecked, darkens souls and destroys dreams like a wrecking ball. Other than that, it’s no big deal!
When you encounter this fear, you essentially have two options. Option one: let the fear win and don’t even bother starting or expanding your business. Or option two: explore the fear and embrace the process of self-discovery (you can stop reading here if you want to choose option one, btw).
Try thinking of it this way: your fear that you aren’t good enough is actually a gift to you as a healer. I think it’s your calling to bring this fear into the light. Examine it, gently untangle the roots. As you explore what helps you heal this belief, you’ll find insights that will be useful for the people you work with.
The most genuine healers I’ve encountered are the ones who have grappled with their own fears. You need to be equipped with more than just platitudes and theories – if you want to guide others, you need direct experience navigating your own challenges. This is why it’s actually invigorating for me to think that so many of us deal with this fear that we aren’t good enough. Dealing with this fear for yourself is part of learning to practice what you preach.
Unpacking the fear that you’re not good enough is a tangled, complicated process. There isn’t one simple trick to “overcome” this fear. In fact, this is one of those fears with many arms – it manifests in all sorts of ways, and stems from a wide array of factors. You know, one of those good old fashioned deep-seated issues that you could easily spend YEARS trying to fully understand.
Diving into this fear is a deeply personal, nuanced journey and it will look different for you than it does for me. However, there do seem to be some common trends at work, and we can explore a few of them here. I offer these ideas not as end-all-be-alls, but in hopes that they might be useful for you as you continue your own self-discovery.
Criticism and safety
Like many fears, I think the fear of not being good enough harkens back to a primal desire to keep ourselves safe. If you let this fear win you don’t start a business or you don’t expand your current business. You don’t risk criticism. All so that you can stay “protected and safe.”
The fear that you aren’t good enough is often close friends with the fear of criticism. You may tell yourself you aren’t good enough in an unconscious attempt to beat everyone else to the punch of telling you the same thing. For varying reasons (childhood stuff, personal neuroses, past traumas, lizard brain and who knows what else), we human beings tend to be PETRIFIED of criticism. In fact, we are so afraid of criticism that we criticize the living fuck out of ourselves in order to avoid any risk of external criticism.
The most ironic thing is that listening to fear doesn’t REALLY keep you safe. Even if you let fear run the show and you don’t consciously risk criticism, you’re still going to get criticized. Remaining in the grips of fear doesn’t create real safety, it only creates a stifling illusion of safety. When you come to this conscious realization, things start to shift.
It’s useful to start by affirming to yourself that you can (and will) survive criticism (from yourself and from others). You’re so much stronger, so much more resilient than you give yourself credit for. Fear is notorious for, well, unfounded fear mongering. It IS safe for you step through the “I’m not good enough” haze, own your bad-assery and create a meaningful business.
I’m not perfect, so I can’t help anyone else
We get this idea in our heads that we can’t help anyone else through our business until we have completely categorized and labeled all of our own issues. We think we aren’t good enough to do healing work because oh-my-goodness we still have so much of our own healing to do.
This can be a double edged sword. On one side, it is important to be sensitive to your own evolution. When you are still in the thick of overcoming addictions or trying to integrate a major life lesson, you’ve got to be honest with yourself about that. It wouldn’t be authentic to claim you can teach people to heal wounds that are still raw within you. It’s toxic to put on a front, to act more put together than you really are.
But on the other side, if you’re waiting to reach enlightenment before moving forward in your business…you’ll probably be waiting a while. Like, a lifetime. Even once you sort through the lessons life is currently providing you, another set of lessons will be waiting around the corner. And then once you think you’ve come to grasps with THOSE lessons, you’ll encounter them again from a new angle. Enlightenment is not a state we reach and stay in forever, it’s something we’re constantly dancing in and out of.
This harkens back to what I talked about in the first part of this post. The most powerful thing you can do for your business is to commit to your own growth. In this way, your own life experiences can give you the wisdom you need to best serve your clients.
You do not have to be “perfect” in order to be of service to others through your business. In fact, I’ve found that the greatest sense of connection I’ve experienced in my business comes when I let myself be honest and vulnerable about my own inner battles (and I certainly have my fair share of inner battles!).
You don’t have to have an Instagram-worthy life, meticulously crafted blog posts and a raw vegan diet to be good enough to grow your business. You don’t have to be an expert or make your competition irrelevant or have 1000 subscribers overnight to be good enough. You don’t have to have perfect spelling and grammar and technology skills to be good enough. You don’t have to radiate positive vibes and self-assurance 100% of the time to be good enough.
You’re human. Humans are always learning, experimenting, messing up, learning. You’ll do the most good in your business when you stop expecting yourself to live up to some fabricated, marketing fueled idea of what “good enough” looks like. Don’t aim for impossible standards, aim to be honest, mindful, authentic and helpful.
The fear that we aren’t good enough can be bolstered by deeply engrained societal conditioning. This seems to be especially true for people who are already marginalized (women, people of color, LGBTQ people, etc), but can happen to anyone.
The mainstream societal narrative only encourages certain people (ie: white males) to take ownership for their talents. Some people are applauded as brave, self-confident and bold when they fully own their abilities. Other people are scoffed at as cocky, arrogant and egotistical when they display the same behavior. Yep, it’s pretty much BS.
When society has consistently told you in ways both explicit and subtle that you aren’t good enough, it’s really hard not to internalize some of that energy. It helps to start by consciously choosing to move deeper than the thoughts the belief systems that society has tried to force on you. Let yourself gently move beyond that and sit with what is true deep within you. It takes lots of de-programming, but eventually you’ll find the core belief that you ARE good enough, and that you’re only getting better – let THAT be the belief you choose cultivate.
I’ve written over a thousand words about the fear of being not good enough and I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface! This isn’t a fear you can vanquish overnight, and that’s a good thing, because you’ll learn a lot as you continue exploring it for yourself.
Here’s something I believe with my whole heart: letting yourself fully see your fears while also fully owning your abilities is a magical combination. If you had already resigned yourself to the belief that you aren’t, and will never be, good enough; you wouldn’t be reading this. Something within you knows – something within you has always known – that you ARE good enough. It’s just a matter of doing the work to remind yourself again and again.
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