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Feeling Small

Sarah Chana Radcliffe M. ED., C. PSYCH.

Whether you feel inadequate about something you can change (your parenting skills) or can’t change (your family background), here are tips and tools to conquer those terrible feelings of “I’m not good enough.”

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Think back to the last time you felt old, fat, or frumpy. Chances are, the feeling was triggered after you saw someone younger, skinnier, or more put-together than you. When we feel inadequate because we’re not pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough, popular enough, or even frum enough, it’s almost always because we just compared ourselves to someone else. Perhaps the most painful feelings of inferiority arise when we compare our children to other kids. “My son has a lot of learning issues. When my friends brag about how well their kids are doing in yeshivah, I want to hide under a rug. I never have any good news to report. I feel like a failure as a parent.” In some ways, not having “good enough” kids is even harder than not being “good enough” oneself. It carries the extra stigma of somehow having been a “not good enough” parent, even though the flaws and failings of one’s children do not automatically reflect deficient parenting. The cognitive cure for this type of inadequacy is, of course, to stop comparing ourselves to others (see sidebar for more). It helps to remember that every single one of us has a completely different job in This World and Hashem gave us exactly the right tools for the task at hand. So if we don’t have a certain tool (like wealth or beauty), it means we don’t need it. 

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