“I am inadequate.” “I am not good enough.”

A lot of people I talk to, including missionaries, college students, men and women, feel like they just aren’t good enough. They feel inadequate. They feel like they should be so much better. For a long time, I have tried to use counseling methods to help them recognize that they are adequate, they are good enough. Finally, I said “You’re right, you’re not adequate. If being adequate means being perfect, then you are not perfect, none of us are!”

Often, they are caught in what I call “the Comparison Game.” They look at others and say, “look at her, she is so smart” and “he is so confident” and “they are so happy.” And then they feel like they are none of those things and fall short in everything. They feel very inadequate. They feel like they should be perfect by Saturday.

Isn’t it true that we are all on our own personal journey, our own pathway to perfection? We have the goal of becoming like our Savior. But Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught us that that won’t happen in this life. (Be Ye Therefore Perfect – Eventually, General Conference, Oct. 2017). Elder David A. Bednar often reminds us that we grow “line upon line,” “precept upon precept,” “here a little, there a little”. So, we don’t need to be perfect by Saturday. We keep our focus on Christ and follow Him. And through the power of His atonement, we will make it. I don’t know about you, but on my journey, some days it feels like I’m taking two steps forward and one step back. Some days it feels like two steps forward and three steps back. But every time, the atonement of Christ is there to help us.

So, who should we really compare to? Ourselves. Am I doing a little better today than yesterday? Am I making progress? There are times when we still make mistakes, but we can learn from our mistakes.

My anxiety is less when I wear a name tag that says “work in progress” or “under construction.” It is like building a house. First, they build a foundation, then the walls, then the roof and plumbing and electric. And maybe it still needs flooring and paint and appliances. Then it will be complete. President Russell M. Nelson has reminded us that another word for “perfect” is “complete.” (Perfection Pending, General Conference, Oct. 1995). So, I am on my journey, my pathway to perfection. I can look at others and learn from them without comparing.

Then you and I can remember that we are sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents and we are here to grow and progress and serve and love. And that is where our self-worth comes from. And with their love, we keep working to improve, but we are good enough, we are adequate. And we strive to follow Christ and endure to the end. And that is where self-worth and self-confidence join together. Isn’t that why we invite others to come unto Christ? To join in that marvelous journey!  To participate in that inspired plan! To have that joyful experience! To receive those eternal blessings!

May the Lord continue to bless you on your journey!

[Note: The ideas and suggestions contained in these articles are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a qualified mental health professional. In addition, if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please seek medical or mental health assistance immediately.  In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat at 988lifeline.org/chat/. Services are free and confidential.]