Lorna Lythgoe is the founder of the Good Life School, self-described ‘natural born geek’ and teacher, life/career coach and trainee therapist. She guides people to explore what it means to live well. In her words: ‘aiming to lighten the load of emotional and psychological anguish that so many of us seem to carry, leading to brighter, kinder, happier lives’.
I knew a conversation with Lorna would go deep into the heart of self-esteem and body-image issues. Sure enough, within mere minutes we were chatting about the mechanics of socio-political forces in everyday life, how the ‘I’m not good enough’ narrative shows up, and what practical steps people can take to build self-confidence.
This interview reminded me that this ‘not good enough’ narrative seems to show up for almost everyone. It has its roots in deep-seated fears of being rejected from our chosen tribes, and in obsessions with productivity and perfectionism that come from our cultures.
For so many, especially those who identify as women, our bodies are an instant place to attach those insecurities. I’m sure you know the drill. Checking your appearance before you leave the house. Putting on the right clothes, the accepted uniform, for that meeting. Spending your time to fit the mould better. Feeling you should always find time to do that workout and anything less isn’t good enough. Pretending those things don’t take up mental space. Being tired of failing to keep up those routines. Feeling scared other people will think less of you.
Lorna’s advice is definitely worth listening to, because she points out that this kind of thing is NOT YOUR FAULT. You might feel weighed against society’s values, and not good enough, but actually many of those values aren’t as fixed as they seem. They are made up. And the people that made them up might not even be doing it on purpose, or they are doing it to sell you something.
This interview also helped me to realise that I don’t have to try and meet every possible goal I could potentially reach. Having a few goals that I really care about and want to commit to, does make me feel purposeful and capable. But I keep an eye on whether my goals are about pleasing other people or fitting with made-up values like the thin-ideal. It also helps if they are fun in themselves and don’t make me feel inadequate!
Lorna says ‘lean into the things that you are good at, and that come naturally to you. Do something that doesn’t trigger self-criticism, that’s just joyful and easy and pleasant. This helps to counter the negative thoughts.’
To find out more about Lorna or take one of her courses, visit Good Life School.