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Am I enough?

How many times a day do we guess, then second guess, then third guess, fourth guess, fifth guess ourselves?

And when we are not playing second-guessing games, how many of us play equally dangerous games of self-criticism and self-attack?

And what does all that guessing do to a woman’s fragrant, vibrant, delicious, intuitive, poetic soul?

How much of our very precious potent energy are we wasting on negative thoughts, self-doubt, and self-criticism?

We all suffer according to the level of bullsh*t-self-loathing-stories we run every day. 
And we’ve got to turn it around. 

I work with thousands of women at the School of Womanly Arts.  
And we all have the same thing in common – we grew up in a culture that teaches us to doubt ourselves. 

That’s right; doubt must be taught, just the same as confidence must be taught.  

We were not born with all of this negativity inside ourselves. 

An unsurprising, but deeply unsettling, comprehensive new study released last week finds that girls all over the world are fed a steady diet of thinking less of themselves, compared to boys.

“In every single place, girls are given the message that they are weak, that they are vulnerable. That their bodies are a target,” said Robert Blum, who chairs the department of population, family and reproductive health at Johns Hopkins and led the study.

Can you see how this would contribute to sowing the seeds of doubt inside the body and mind of a young girl – that might sprout into an ongoing minefield of doubt by the time she was a young woman?

“Unrelenting self-criticism often goes hand in hand with depression and anxiety, and it may even predict depression,” reports the Wall Street Journal, citing a study that found those who were most self-critical were more likely to be depressed and have difficulties in relationships. “Self-criticism is also a factor in eating disorders, self-mutilation and body dysmorphic disorder – that is, preoccupation with one’s perceived physical flaws,” the less-than-happy round-up of the scientific consensus on self-criticism adds.

One of my students, Lisa, a graphic designer,  wrote me the following question on a Facebook live we had recently:

Mama. I don’t know when it started, but I have lived my entire life not feeling good enough. Depending on the day and who I am with, I might feel anything from not pretty enough, to not smart enough, not funny enough, or maybe my hair is too wild, my clothes are frumpy, my thighs are too fat, my breasts are too small, I’m clumsy on the dance floor, and no matter how I look at it – I’m simply not enough. I spend so much time in my head worrying about what people are thinking about me that it is absolutely exhausting.  I am an emotional train wreck. I try to imagine what people will think: do I look ok in this? Will they think I’m pretty? Will they like me? Is this cool enough? To be honest, I drive myself CRAZY.

Every woman I know finds herself chronically criticizing one or more huge areas of her life. Some of the more popular targets are:

1. Weight
2.  Comparing ourselves to others
3.  Relationships
4. Appearance
5. Finances
6. Career
7. Sex life
In other words, we are critical in every area that truly matters.  
And when we are in the act of criticizing ourselves, we are in a state of true insanity, as Lisa so rightly observed. We can’t create, we can’t relax, we can’t connect with ourselves or others. We are life’s victim.
Can you imagine? The world actually teaches us to be victims.  
But we can teach ourselves another path. Another way. The way of the feminine.  
Where instead of spending all of our precious life force turning away from ourselves, we choose instead to turn on to ourselves.
When we live in a world that cannot even comprehend its own inherent bigotry against
women—and thus cannot step forward to honor or support the women and girls who have been devastated by it—what is the recourse? How do we stand up to an invisible assault that does not want to be made visible? How does a woman weather—let alone triumph over—such a global denial of her experience?
How does she turn on when she has been systematically denied, passed over, and subjugated? Where is the opportunity in this storyline for the victim to become the heroine?
The solution for the epidemic of powerlessness among women, which neither great success nor higher education is able to solve, is simple: reconnecting a woman to her turn on. 
Turn on is the source of each woman’s connection to her own life force, her voice, and her sense of internal power. When a woman turns on, she is actually turning on her vitality and connecting to her divinity. 
Breaking down a legacy of self-doubt, and then replacing it with a legacy of radical, outrageous and raw self-celebration . . . well, that’s a lifelong road for most of us. 
Waking up to the mini-patriarchy inside each of our heads takes some vigilance. 
Yet, you will be surprised how little it can take to wake a woman up to her rightness. Just as you learned to chronically doubt yourself, you can learn to chronically celebrate yourself. 
Here are 3 Antidotes to Self-Doubt:
1.  Dance.  No, I mean it. Really. Try it. Right now. Even if you are kind of a klutz like me. Even if there is no music. Or no privacy. The answer to this dilemma is not going to come from your very overworked-overused-overactive brain. It will come from your brilliant, alive, radiant body. Remember: the antidote to insanity is to find a way to turn on. And none of us have been encouraged to turn on – rather, quite the opposite. We have been taught to turn ourselves off. When we are in a state of self-doubt and self-criticism, we are more than likely to allow others to determine our fate. Rather than take our own destiny in our own hands, and become an outrageous outspoken gang of ‘nasty women’.  Which is what the world actually needs.
2.  Look in the mirror. Wink at your reflection. Accuse that woman you see in the mirror of being a hot sexy wildcat. Tell her that she’s hot. Really. Not at all kidding. It will change your chemistry. Instantly. And it’s true. Try it. Look at your reflection and say out loud: “You are a hot sexy wildcat!” Wink at her. She will instantly wink back.    
3. Say outrageously nice things to yourself. Walk down the street and practice replacing all of those second-guessy-self-doubty-not-good-enough-insane thoughts, with turned on thoughts. Try creating a hot little womantra for yourself. The one I have been using today is: “I am the hottest pussy on the Upper West Side”. It instantly makes me sane and fabulous. (Don’t knock it ’til you try it, okay?)            
Try them on. Make a habit of them. I guarantee you will start to shift the stories in your head, and your life will follow suit. 
In the comments below, I want to know: 
•  Where are you going to call ceasefire on yourself? Where have you had enough with self-doubt and self-criticism? 
•  What’s one radical step you can take in the direction of self-celebration? 
Sisters, we are simply too valuable to waste on self-doubt. It is up to us. I’m so honored to be on this ride with you, and can’t wait to continue the conversation.

Regena Thomashauer, aka “Mama Gena”
Founder of The School of Womanly Arts

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29 Comments / Leave a Comment

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  • Chaneeka November 2, 2017, 10:08 am

    I am the hottest, most vibrant, most magical nubian queen in Honduras! <3 Thank you!

  • brenda morris October 4, 2017, 3:32 pm

    I closed the eyes of my first dead patient at the ripe age of 21 , soo ,my view might be different but only in some ways.
    Begin raised in the south all I’ve heard is “Be Sweet “. However, all that gets ya is feeling like a doormat or when I was put in a position of not being able to Just be sweet; then I was left feeling like a failure.
    Isn’t it amazing that a woman can be in charge of life and death situation, walk out the door and be told that I was not enough because I just wasn’t sweet enough.
    I’ve never spoken of this before…. Thank You Mamma Gina for the sounding board.

  • Sammi October 2, 2017, 6:39 pm

    It’s kind of surprising that I seen this article today. My therapist pointed out to me that my biggest fear that’s been controlling my life, and that’s been making my life difficult, is how I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough since I was a kid. I’m going to go see her tomorrow, so it’s kind of funny to see this. This article opened my eyes, I love it. And actually, 9 years ago, I’ve Googled “how to love yourself” and it said to look in the mirror and say at least 5 good things about yourself and what you like about yourself every day. And it’s helped, I just forgot about it or lost motivation.. I recently got out of an emotionally abusive and partially physically abusive relationship a few months ago, and I’ve been over board with feeling not good enough for anything or anyone.. even my service dog.. which seems so silly. Thank you for the motivation and suggestions to help improve and empower!

  • Amy Elizabeth Gordon September 28, 2017, 7:21 pm

    I am loving your supportive words. Today I am celebrating freedom from self-doubt and celebrating that I am alive and well and living in paradise. I am writing in a cafe in Hawai’i and letting the ambient music serve as the prompts for my writing: I’m Coming Out…as an unapologetic woman who puts her self care first and then has the energy to serve others. Shining Star…my spirit guides are with me always and guide me on the journey of life. I Feel Good…I Knew that I Would…as I read the inspiring words of Mama Gena and let go of self-doubt, I invite the possibility that I can please myself, wink in the mirror at my sexy pussy and trust that I AM ENOUGH.

  • elizabeth mcdonald September 27, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Dear Regena,
    I have read everything you’ve posted for about 15 years (???)! This post was, you were on fire as I’ve never heard you before. I was moved to tears. This post was written as my voice teacher says “on pure impulse”, like Martin Luther Kings’, “I have a Dream”, speech. I wanted to upride you and say I’m really turning these issues around in a deep and celebratory way. Thank you for sharing your gift!

  • Tania September 26, 2017, 10:08 pm

    It took me 44 yrs to figure out I was enough. I am a good enough daughter, sister, friend, mom and even wife (my husband left me). To celebrate being enough, I got this tattoo.

    • mama gena September 27, 2017, 7:32 am

      you are MORE than good enough.
      oooh- what does the tat say, tania?

  • Brina September 26, 2017, 7:17 pm

    Thanks for that kick in the butt. At one time I didn’t think that I was good enough. I had 4 surgeries in 2015 2 of them were due to Breast Cancer. Prior to the first surgery in January of 2015 for a neurological injury, I was hit from behind at 55 MPH which caused me to be in grave pain so I had no choice but to have the surgery. I continued to recover and sink into depression 15-16 then someone came into my life as a friend with a listening ear. Asked probing questions and told me to stop being hard on myself, that I was beautiful and if I wasn’t satisfied with myself he couldn’t figure out why. At that time the person that I live with would not financially support me unless it was for medication, going to the doctor or an emergency. I was declared disabled therefore my independence (somewhat) came with that. I had made up my mind in Janurary of 2017 that I was ENOUGH and I was going to lose the weight of depression and on my body. I am now down to the size I was in my 30’s. I have been asked if I was in my 30’s and the same person that gave me the encouragement and kept me uplifted is the one that I love very deeply. Now don’t judge me, I’m still living in my home with the one I’ve been with but our relationship has changed (20 years my senior) and he’s scared that I’m going to leave because I have energy, vitality, I feel alive and refreshed. At this point I am giving all of my friends advice on their journey to get healthy and that it starts within. I love it when I get the jealous stares or someone calls/messages me and say “what the hell did you do”? First of all God saved me and I wanted to honor him by taking care of my temple and my heart.

    • mama gena September 27, 2017, 7:34 am

      love is all there is, brina. congrats on your incredible recovery.

  • Loren September 26, 2017, 7:11 pm

    I didn’t feel the article was well balanced. It outlined the language use toward young girls. I would have liked the writer to articulate what exactly are young boys being told? And, is our education system a well balanced place for communicating equality? 🙂 Thank you.

    • mama gena September 27, 2017, 7:37 am

      thank you for your feedback, loren. i deeply appreciate it.
      for the most part, i write about women and for women, but i will consider your point in the future. men suffer deeply in a patriarchal culture, as well as women.

  • Kavida September 26, 2017, 6:07 pm

    I want to ceasefire and self doubt with my sexuality.. I met a man whom makes my loins throb.. yet I haven’t even tongue kissed him.. I am soo afraid of rejection and making the same mistake again.. I keep pushing him away yet I desire him soo much.. I am going to conquer this situation with the self celebration by having wild sex with him..

    • mama gena September 27, 2017, 7:39 am

      this is so much fun and so exciting, kavida. it is wonderful to meet a man that you can connect with so deeply. wishing you blessings on this adventure in intimacy!

      • Kavida September 27, 2017, 3:36 pm

        Mama I am honored you responded!! I am coming to see you in February. I can’t wait!! You have encouraged, inspired and loved me thank You so much!! ( the sex was awesome)

  • SG Jules September 26, 2017, 1:52 pm

    Thanks for your letter !!! And for the invitation to participate on the blog, I appreciate it 🙂 Recently, I felt as if I was sliding into a gulley once again. It leads me to a place where I don’t feel like a woman anymore. I end up in a place where I feel like an automat or a thing that functions day in, day out. Although it’s not a depressing place, it’s a place where I strip myself of my uniqueness……. no way, no more ! I realized when I took the VPBC class, OMG, I self-criticize in negatitve ways, wayyyy too much !!! And no “definite” answer ever comes of it. I liked your suggestion about adopting a good habit instead of fighting a “bad” one. So, I decided to think about what is fun and what puts a smile on my face, instead of spending my precious time ruminating over negative crap from hell (that I’ve probably invented myself in my own vain thinking anyhow 🙂 ). My womantra recently has become : “I’ve got the power, I’m going to keep the power and I’m going to use my power” luv & hugs

    • mama gena September 27, 2017, 7:42 am

      sg jules-
      it is so inspiring to have you rekindle your spark! and i love your womantra: “I’ve got the power, I’m going to keep the power and I’m going to use my power”
      it is what is required- for every woman- in this world. when we believe we have the power, then, we do.
      thanks for your post!

  • Sue September 26, 2017, 1:22 pm

    i worry that I’m crazy. That my thoughts are crazy, that my opinions are crazy and the way I perceive the world may be a tad off the mark. So, I keep it all to myself. Probably not the best thing to do these days but I’ve been taught throughout life to shut up. Smart girls aren’t fun to be around.

    • Anonymous September 26, 2017, 1:24 pm

      Oooh, smart girls are the most stimulating, exciting, and hot of all!

    • Marnie September 26, 2017, 6:43 pm

      Girl guess what happened when I showed up with my ‘crazy’ intelligent ideas? I met a man with 4 degrees, total brilliance and this is what he said ‘ I have a tendency to get bored with women, with people, you entice me, I believe you might be smarter than me and I have so much to dive into with you’. Be you. Be smart. Wait and see what comes for you!!!

  • Rhonda September 26, 2017, 12:23 pm

    I love your articles, and I love you. I am so ready to come alive and feel worthy every moment of every day and I’m going to try and spread the love and make the women I work with open up as well. Thank you.

  • Ann September 26, 2017, 12:06 pm

    The only people in my entire life who have diminished me and made me doubt myself have been OTHER WOMEN which began in 7th grade calling me a slut because boys liked me, which continued through high school and into the real world because I am attractive with a nice figure which came from God.

    Women are the enemies of other women and this continued in the SWA.

    It’s taken me 40 years to reclaim my being enough and I’ve had enough of insecure, rude, shaming women. They have been non inclusive and that’s fine with me.

    My light shining doesn’t diminish yours and that is where women need to stand in their power.

    The cattiness of high school still goes on in the SWA and that’s why I walked away.

    • Melissa September 26, 2017, 12:20 pm

      an unfortunate reality of life, we have been practicing this behavior for a lifetime and it doesn’t disappear overnight, or even after discovering and participating in Regena’s amazing and important work. We are all a work in progress.

    • Ruth September 26, 2017, 3:40 pm

      Hi I am here at the right time in my life. I go out dancing whenever I can. I have come alive awake to a new me since my life partner passed 2 and a half years ago. I am putting together a class for 10 to 12 people and calling it life while grieving. It’s about my story about Keith and how whoever he was while alive has given me courage to do only with his passing.
      I am also getting ready to start dancing with the pain physical and emotional
      pain . Life has never been easy however at 69 It’s now or never. No time for excuses have to give it a shot and I belive now that I am onto something I can do which I was never ever willing to do befor face the fear and do it anyway. What’s the worst that can happen I fail or I succeed whatever happens it’s all good. Thank u all for sharing and caring going to try what you said about being the hottest pussy but in the Poconos no longer live in Bklyn or work on the Upper West Side till later

  • Debbie September 26, 2017, 12:00 pm

    I’m calling ceasefire on my head and heart. I’ve had enough with self-doubt and self-criticism towards my worthiness of love and commitment in my relationship. Today I called myself a hot sexy wildcat and took a selfie right afterwards.

  • Nijkii September 26, 2017, 11:38 am

    I have recently been going through a very bad breakup after 20 yrs and 3 children, he cheated on me and I lost all self worth, he completely destroyed me inside and out …I gained alot of weight over the years due to being sick and since the breakup 8 months ago I’ve been working really hard on losing far I’ve lost 50 pounds and everyone tells me how great I look and am doing but I still can’t believe it all I still see is the fat girl it was so easy for him to cheat on…I know I’m beautiful but I’m just so broken I can’t see past my damages…that’s why I’m so happy to have been brought to this site

    • Nikkii September 26, 2017, 11:41 am

      My name was misspelled …lol it’s NIKKII

    • Ruby Red September 26, 2017, 1:27 pm

      Fat girls are hot! Xo

  • Deborah September 26, 2017, 11:07 am

    This is awesome Mama Gena. We do have to turn this around for women all over the world because we’re not taught self-love. I do think, however, that we are by default born into a collective consciousness of negative thinking energectically, even if we are free individually. Can’t wait to be apart of your upcoming event in December

  • Soni...(sunny) September 26, 2017, 10:54 am

    I have a writing desk in my bedroom…I am a widow, single, artist, writing my life story and a book and poetry!!! YES!
    The wall my desk sits against I have hung a round mirror that I see myself in…and tell myself all good things,,,,EVERY DAY! I also have hung all the strong women that raised me…and more as I come to respect them…starting with the mother of Jesus…some say she was just a girl who had a baby…I say she was some awesome girl and woman!! My grandmother, mom, daughter…mother in law…etc…and ME! May we be strong and raise strong women! It doesn’t come easy, I have to work at it every day. Thanks for coming my way!