I’m good enough. I’m smart enough.
People in their late 30s and in their 40s may remember a sketch on Saturday Night Live of a character named Stuart Smalley. Smalley, played by Al Franken, read affirmations that always included “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” The content of the reoccurring sketch isn’t memorable but the underlying theme of affirmations comes to my mind decades later.
I recently finished watching the 2015 miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson. I am in awe of how Marcia Clark managed to survive that trial. It took place in 1992 and she was the lead prosecutor. The news, her peers, and anyone looking for an easy target ruthlessly scrutinized everything she did, from her trial strategy to her haircut.
As an attorney and a woman, it is second nature for me to compare myself to her situation. In comparison, I didn’t think I could ever do what she did. Why do I think that way?
Throughout life, we establish role models. We put them on a pedestal and hold ourselves next to them and rate whether it is a match. In certain circumstances this is ok, but in most we neglect to include our role models flaws or we don’t know what they are.
I unnecessarily compare myself to others and hold myself to a (self-created) standard that I believe is necessary to be successful. Comparing myself to other successful people is a bad habit of mine.
My inner critic is relentless about judgment. Lately, when I pay attention to my inner critic I realize that I treat myself like Bill O’Reilly treated the stage manager on the off air video of Inside Edition. Or I could take my pick of Bill O’Reilly’s epic freakouts and that is how I treat myself regarding negative self-talk.
I berate myself in ways that I would never do to anyone else. This is a problem that holds me back in achieving and advancing in my life; from using my talents to help others.
Awareness is at the heart of diffusing negative self-talk. It is easy to be swept in the current of life, moving from one task to the next, without self-reflection, and all the while judging yourself.
It is hard to be self-aware. It is uncomfortable. I don’t want to sit with my thoughts. I don’t want to feel my feelings. I want to open Facebook and busy my mind with something else. I want to retreat and then when I do, I want to be somewhere else.
With respect to Stuart Smalley, I wonder if it will make a difference if I start my day saying out loud “I’m good enough”.
My latest idea is to write a self-help coffee table book. The title will be “You are good enough” and on the middle of every page for 100 pages, it will say “You are good enough.” If I say it to myself 100 times in a row, it has to work.
And gosh darn it, people like me.