“Most people don’t have to run a marathon to feel good about themselves!”

“Most people don’t have to run a marathon to feel good about themselves!”

That is what someone said to me the day after I ran the London Marathon a decade ago. At which point I burst into tears and left the room.

What I know now is that the person who told me that is lucky and very different to many of the people I meet in my work who don’t feel good about themselves. Although many people don’t choose to run a marathon to overcome the ‘not good enough‘ monster, I know that it talks to most of us at different points in our lives, louder for some people than for others.

Being good enough

I lived my life believing at some point I would do something worthwhile and that would make me feel better. I attempted to be the perfect parent, thought that when my business made x amount of money or had y number of people I would feel good enough. It was a constant subconscious battle that kept me constantly pushing myself to do more and be more.

By anyone’s standards I was experiencing success with lots of great stuff happening in my life, however the little voice kept whispering in my ear. Becoming aware of it was a huge breakthrough and, through reading and coaching, I learnt tools and techniques that kept it at bay most of the time. I learned to move it out of my head and on to my shoulder (somehow!) and this allowed me to swat it away when necessary.

One day I was doing some shared coaching with a client, we had been on a run of great achievements in the business and I felt like we were really flying. All of a sudden, and out of nowhere, came that little voice of not “good enough”.

Understanding and acceptance

I was beside myself with frustration wondering how much work I needed to do to get rid of the voice, but, in that moment, understood that I couldn’t get rid of the voice, it’s part of me.

In that moment of acceptance I realised that it’s trying to keep me safe. I don’t have to listen to it or take its advice, but I didn’t need to be frightened of it anymore. I could be kind to myself and see all that I am as just the way I should be.

Perfect just as I am and just as I am not

95% of the time I now feel enough in most situations. I have recently listened to a brilliant book by Brene Brown called “Men, Women and Worthiness”. In it she talks about shame, which I had never previously related to not being ‘enough’. The insight in the book has helped me see the patterns that trigger my little voice and develop strategies to deal with my experience in a way that works for me and, as a result, for those around me.

Being human can be challenging

The more we’re aware of what is going on for us, whether it’s ‘I’m stupid’, ‘too fat’, ‘too thin’, and so on, the more we can acknowledge the part of us that is scared, the little voice that is trying to protect us. This awareness enables us to take the power out of that voice in our head and choose how we want to be in the world.

What Fresh Air Fridays has provided for me is a space where I become aware of what is going on for me. I have time to think and explore how I want to show up in the world, how I want to be. Not only does it provide the space but also the support of a group of like-minded people who also want to live lives they want to lead. Together we can help one another make life a more joyful experience.

written by

Ruth Steggles