The Fear of Not Being Enough, For Others
The fear of not being enough for others is one that is a bit more well-known but probably not thought of in it’s various forms.
On the most basic level as a species, humans are sociable beings who need friends and close relationships, it’s inherent in our makeup; without others around us, we simply wouldn’t survive. In today’s world this very basic need can push us into wanting to impress in order to be liked and accepted by others.
An easily recognised example is that one person in our lives who we see as an important and close figure and ultimately someone who we want to make proud because we love and admire them. They, as individuals, have their own set of standards and beliefs which more often than not we want to show empathy towards and identify with - we want to show them that we are like them. In the stereotypical “Mean Girls” high school scenario, it can lead to becoming ultra submissive and losing your sense of self in exchange for a relationship based on dishonesty. In a less extreme and more common situation, it could be something as familiar as starting a new job and wanting to make friends with your new colleagues by going for a drink when you don’t really fancy it or taking part in the charity event, even though you hate running!
As a student within the yoga community as well as in my career, I’ve most definitely been in situations where I’ve wanted to “fit in” and done or said things that weren’t entirely me. Most of the time, this has been fine up until the point I reflect and start feeling a deep sense of guilt and shame for lying about myself. It doesn’t happen every time by any means, but when I know I’ve betrayed myself, my body knows. I feel embarrassed and ashamed for not believing in myself more.
Another form this fear can show itself is through wanting others to change so they fit with you. This desire to want to change people is often what causes us a lot of pain and one we can too easily overlook. When people challenge our ways or show differences to us and we don’t embrace this, we feel unaccepted, wrong and possibly even threatened as a result. Of course the reality is that the world consists of many opinions and ideas, and whilst we all know this, it’s sometimes too frustrating and terrifying to welcome. Learning to let things be and to ride the waves is, in my opinion, one of life’s biggest challenges.
When I’ve had people showing different opinions to me, it’s irritated me and at its core, filled me with doubt about myself and that relationship. It’s like they’ve let me down, I’ve let them down and there is no middle ground - there is simply no way for things to improve because we are just different people. You’re not enough for me, I’m not enough for you so lets just leave it at that because I don’t want to feel wrong as that threatens my own identity.
Lastly, this fear can also express itself when someone has an expectation of you. This expectation isn’t an assumed one on your part but one they’ve vocalised and possibly even admire you for. The fear of not being enough for them can manifest if you feel that you’re failing them and this ideal they have of you, and most importantly it’s a trait that you want for yourself too. It can be likened to actually being afraid of showing your flaws, those times you’re not that “thoughtful, kind, energetic, [fill in the gap]” person.
For me, a compliment or a character trait that’s been acknowledged can stay with me; I take it to heart because I like it and it’s something that I want to embody. It’s a nice thing after all! For example, I’ve been told I’m a calm person to be around and have a cool composure, however in the past the moment I show a frantic side or tell someone that I don’t feel calm inside I feel like I’ve disappointed them. It’s felt worse when I haven’t even admitted it but someone can see it for themselves. It’s like the mirage has disappeared, I’m laid that bit more bare and they won’t like what they see and neither do I.
One of the most interesting parts in this discussion is who that “other” might be to each of us; parents, friends (old or new), your partner, the most critical person in your life or even the most supportive person. Whoever this person is or people are, all we’re after from them is to be accepted, loved, and to feel enough. We want approval and a guarantee from the external that we are loved but it’s truly futile - we cannot, and will not, ever control those things let alone know them completely.
It’s so important to remember that as life ebbs and flows, so does someones thoughts of you. You don’t ever think your mum is perfect all of the time because she isn’t, she’s human, so why would she think you are the epitome of her perfection constantly? This non-perfection doesn’t affect the way she sees you as a whole, those few small parts of you that you don’t like or she doesn’t like makes YOU. And that definitely is enough.
The second: The fear of not being enough, for societies …. will follow next week