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When You're Just Not Enough

emotion regulation gratitude happiness parenting sadness self compassion survivor vs. victim Feb 24, 2022

This last week, I got a difficult diagnosis for my youngest son.

Not an unexpected diagnosis, but a difficult one nonetheless.

All kinds of thoughts have run through my head.

  • I am not good enough to handle this.
  • I am not capable enough to get through this.
  • I don't have the energy to do this.
  • I am just not made for this.
  • I don't know if I can figure this out.
  • I don't know what to do. 

My brain has been living in the scarcity side of life for a few days now. The scarcity side of my brain doesn't feel good. There's not much hope there. It feels like fear and darkness and hopelessness all rolled up together.

Needless to say, I've had some rough days.

Our brains have two different states that we flip back and forth between. You can't be in both states at the same time. You can either be in one state or the other.

Here's how this works.

Above, you can see two circles. The one on the left is the one where joy, abundance and hope live. The circle on the right is where fear, scarcity, and hopelessness live.

Our brains are automatically wired to hang out in the fear and scarcity side. While it's dwelling there, you'll never be enough and never be worthy of love. Fear rules and works hard to make us feel anxious, depressed, lonely, and unworthy of everything around us. It makes us into VICTIMS.

Now, over on the left side (the side we want to be in) we still know that we will face challenges and that life is hard. However, when we spend time over there, we feel hope that we can do the hard things. We have an abundance of the things that really matter. We are SURVIVORS! 

Why in the world would ANYONE want to hang out on the scarcity side, right? 

Well, there are benefits we feel when we are the victim. We don't have to change anything because we feel powerless to do so. We get to wallow in self pity and can justify staying stuck. As long as we are in the victim mindset, we are allowed to just sit and let life happen to us. Nothing is our fault. We can blame everything that happens on everything around us. Life is out to get us and there's nothing we can do about it.

Over on the survivor and abundance side, we claim ownership of our problems. We decide to be brave. We look around at our circumstances and see opportunities for growth. We work towards our goals and feel the satisfaction of becoming who we really want to be. When we are survivors, we have enough, we are capable enough, we are loved enough, and we are strong enough for whatever life throws at us.

As you evaluate the state of "being" you are currently in, you may wonder how one can get from scarcity to joy. It seems like a pretty big leap.

The awesome thing is that social scientists have found a way. You may even call it a shortcut or a fast pass.


Gratitude actually causes chemical changes in your brain. It takes what you have and makes it into enough. It makes you worthy of love. It creates a sense of well being. 

No matter what, there is always something to be thankful for.









So lets go back to my son's diagnosis.

When you look over what my emotions have been, which of the states-of-being mentioned above was I hanging out in?

  • I am not good enough to handle this.
  • I am not capable enough to get through this.
  • I don't have the energy to do this.
  • I am just not made for this.
  • I don't know if I can figure this out.
  • I don't know what to do. 

With a little gratitude, watch what happens to my thoughts.

"I am grateful that I get the opportunity to learn about something new. With that knowledge, I will gain new experience that will make me better able to understand other parents and kids and their challenges. I can empathize with others in the same situation. I am grateful for this opportunity to learn more patience and love for my son, but especially to learn more compassion and love for myself."

Now, when I look over my thoughts, I can create new ones that look like this:

  • I am capable of handling this new challenge.
  • I may not know how to do everything right now, but I can learn.
  • I can create enough energy to do the most important things in my life.
  • If I wasn't made for this, God wouldn't have given it to me.
  • I am going to make mistakes and have to try a lot of things to see what works, but I am resilient and I will figure this out.
  • I will look back and be grateful for this unique challenge.

Can you see how different those thoughts are? The energy they create is completely different than when my self talk is all about being a victim.

Please don't misunderstand my intentions here. I have been working and coaching this very thing for a few years now. Yet, I am still imperfect and am working on my own mindset. This is not an easy process for most of us. It takes time and practice. (And sometimes even some good coaching).

There will also be times that you need some self-compassion. When life hits us hard, we aren't expected to hop right into gratitude and abundance. It's okay to give yourself time to feel whatever emotions you need to feel. Be sad and grieve when you need to. Feel anger and fear as much as is necessary. Allow yourself to feel and process whatever you've been dealt.

Just don't get stuck there. 

When you're ready to get back on your feet, practice a little gratitude. You'll find yourself a survivor, ready and capable to tackle the challenges you are facing. 

Survivor is a great place to be.


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