The next time an “I’m not good enough” kind of thought pops up, here’s an experiment to try.
The thought often comes out of nowhere making you feel anywhere from mildly dejected to certain your existence is worthless. The thought has popped up before, perhaps several times for varying reasons. It attacks your self-esteem in a big or small way.
Here’s the question
When the negative thought hits, instead of running with it, take back control. Stop the thought in its tracks and ask yourself, “Where is the evidence?”
Looking back into your history, name all the incidents that make this negative statement true.
The amygdala has some bad habits
The negative thought is actually nothing but a habit. If over time you’ve felt, or have told yourself, that you’re not good enough (or similar), you inadvertently created neural pathways that keep you thinking that way. It’s the first thought that pops into your head — when your amygdala (fight, flight, freeze, or fold) is in charge.
The amygdala is useful when we’re in actual danger. But you’re not in danger. The habitual negative thought just makes you think you are.
This is where mindfulness comes in handy
So, put on the brain brakes. Stop the thought as quickly as possible and ask the question. “Where is the evidence to support this negative statement about myself?”
Your prefrontal cortex is like the friend who almost always gives good advice
While you’re asking the question, you’re also giving your prefrontal cortex the time it needs to engage. (Giving the prefrontal cortex time to engage is the same reason it’s smart to count to ten when we’re mad. Keeps us from doing stuff we’ll regret.)
The prefrontal cortex is the reasoning part of your brain. And when you use that to answer the evidence question, you’ll likely find that there is none. No evidence at all.
When you know that, you can purposefully decide to talk about yourself in a different way. If it’s uncomfortable or feels false, you don’t have to go on and on about how great you are. Just stop being mean to yourself.
If by chance there is actually some evidence, is it as universal as the thought is making it? Or was it a one-time situation that’s still hogging all the space in your brain.
Think you don’t measure up? Where’s the evidence?!