“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
Louise L. Hay
We all feel it AND SAY IT…. that awful, pervasive hurtful statement…. I am not good enought. Yet, despite the more we try to be our best, to get more done and be even more efficient, we never seem to feel adequate, we seem to stay stuck in that sad and annoying place of “not good enough” darkness place.
Our mind loves to keep us there, there where we feel depleted, there in that . It’s great at getting you to wonder, “Am I enough?” It knows all your secrets and just the right buttons to push to make you afraid to try anything.
The messages below might seem valid and reasonable inside our heads, but they all boil down to one bogus message: I suck.
- I’m not a good enough wife or husband
- I’m not a good enough mother or father
- I’m not smart enough
- I don’t work hard enough
- I’m not a good enough son
- I’m not a good enough friend
- I’m too short
- I’m too lazy
- I’m not responsible enough
- I don’t have enough experience.
- I’m too young.
- I’m too old.
- My idea has already been done before.
- I’ll never get it perfect, so I shouldn’t do it at all.
- I’m a fraud, and everyone will figure it out soon.
- I’m going to fail.
Do these thoughts sound familiar to you? Probably. And what do you do when your mind makes you feel “not good enough” feeling? Do you dive back into past memories punishing yourself with every word? Do you have a favorite chapter in your life? Is it the one about being a lousy friend or do you prefer the story of how unattractive you are?
None of these messages are true.There are a few causes that make us think to ourselves, “why am I not good enough?” Let’s talk about that first.
REASONS FOR FEELING NOT GOOD ENOUGH
1. You have hidden core beliefs that are running the show.
The thoughts we actually hear in our heads are far less powerful than those that lurk in our unconscious. Low self worth is inevitably connected to the buried and hidden assumptions about the world we live, about others, and ourselves that we mistake as fact.
These ‘core beliefs‘ are often formed when we were children, with a child’s simple worldview. So they can be surprisingly dramatic and untrue. And yet we unwittingly base all our life decisions around them.
For example, a child with a parent who suddenly leaves one day without offering a reason is not evolved to understand an adult going through a hard time or running off for safety after parents fi. In the child’s mind, the core beliefs “if you love someone they leave you” get rooted in their mindset. Even if the parent comes back a few days later the belief sticks, and the child grows into an adult who is scared to love or let someone come close in their lives.
We all deeply want to feel love and be lovable through being good. That’s what this is really about. Love. Loving yourself, feeling loved by others.
None of our efforts to “be good enough” will ever give us this sense of love and ok-ness. Even if we achieve something which on paper should make us feel good or enough, deep down we don’t feel it because we know it’s not real. It’s based on something we did and had to earn. It’s not us, it’s what we did. And that makes any sense of enough fleeting, precarious, conditional and not to be trusted. Our minds are smart like that. As meditation teacher Tara Brach, says, we’ll only feel the real deal, feel enough, feel love and lovable when we’ve had to put in no effort towards achieving it and are just ourselves. When we Experience being loved for being ourselves, just the way we are.
2. You’re putting too much pressure on yourself.
When you feel like you are not good enough you may push yourself harder than you really have to. You think there must be something wrong with you because you don’t have what everyone else has.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to be successful. In high school, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be popular, to win, and to be smart. In college, we put pressure on ourselves to be well-rounded, to have a voice, to be original.
We do this for so many reasons…the pressure to be good and fashionable, smart and hardworking, popular and cool. When we are looking for validation, it’s easy to put too much pressure on ourselves to achieve.
We invest a lot of time and energy in trying to be good enough and when life doesn’t go our way or we feel like something isn’t going well, it can lead us into a downward spiral.
3. You may be highly critical and sensitive.
Criticism is essential for growth and change, but only if it’s being used for good. The trouble is, too much criticism can be detrimental and can start to take away from your sense of self-worth.
Once you get used to negative thoughts about yourself, it can be harder to notice them and overcome them. Often it’s because we judge ourselves too harshly, or overlook positive attributes that make us unique and successful.
It’s hard to notice what’s going on when you’re telling yourself, or thinking that, you’re not good enough.
You may also be a highly sensitive person. This means that your ability to recognize emotional and social situations is exceptional and you can sense the feelings of others very easily.
It also means that it may be difficult for you to cope with overwhelming emotions, especially when those emotions are negative, and you mistake them as your own emotions.
It’s very important for you to recognize these traits within you and when you are around others so they are not dragging you down.
4. Hurtful Words
Another reason that causes us to ask, why am I not good enough’ comes from the hurtful words we hear from others. Sometimes, parents say the wrong thing. They’re human, after all. And sometimes teachers tell you that you’re just not good at math instead of helping you get better. The people we see, work with, or learn from can sometimes say the wrong thing. And that wrong thing, especially if we’re pessimistic, get cycled into our heads to the point where it’s on repeat all day long. However, it doesn’t mean it’s true. You are good enough, and you keep getting better.
This might all stem from experiences that you had as a child which meant you never established a healthy level of self-confidence.
5. When your self confidence was bruised as a child.
The experiences we have in childhood shape the way we think and see ourselves for the rest of our lives.
Maybe you were told you weren’t good enough, or were made to think that way by a certain experience you lived through.
6. You are taught to feel helplessness
Some children are raised to stay dependent way beyond their years. They are often infantilized, disallowed to make decisions that they are capable making themselves, and are over micromanaged. Without being allowed to experiment, explore, make decisions, and make mistakes, such children grow up believing that they are overly incompetent.
Such a person constantly feels that they have way less control over their life than they factually do because they were meticulously controlled as children. In psychology, this phenomenon is sometimes called learned helplessness.
7. You are chasing conditional love
This is the primary reason I find that people think they aren’t good enough. Unconditional love is when you are loved for exactly who you are. When someone receives conditional love, they learn that they are only loved and worthy when they do something or are something. This may seem straightforward, but in fact, it’s difficult to spot conditional love if you’re on the receiving end of it.
Oftentimes, the conditional love comes from your parents. Some red flags may be that you feel like you’re a burden to them, or they only give you affection or praise when you have met certain goals or expectations that they have for you. If you’re not meeting those expectations, they may withhold affection or attention, and you may not feel good enough for them.
Conversely, when someone loves you unconditionally, they give you validation and attention even when you’re not at your best. Unconditional love makes us feel like we’re good enough, all the time.
8. You’re scared of rejection.
Convincing yourself that you’re not good enough for someone is sometimes an excuse for putting up emotional walls when you’re scared of letting them into your heart.
If you have a fear of being rejected by this person, it might be your default reaction to convince yourself that it’s doomed because of your inadequacy rather than because of your fears.
9. I compare myself a lot
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar to you?
- They’re better conversationalists than I am.
- I’m not as interesting and knowledgeable as they are.
- They’re better looking. I’m not in their league.
- They’re much more successful and impressive than I am.
- They come across as so confident, and I come across as so nervous.
- They’re so outgoing and charismatic. I’m so shy and anxious.
- They’re much better with people than I am.
- They’re more likable than I am. They have better personalities.
Maybe you don’t directly compare yourself to others so much, but you still criticize yourself a great deal. You may put yourself down, often quite harshly, with thoughts such as these:
- I’m bad with people.
- I bad at making conversation, especially small talk.
- I’m not interesting / attractive / successful / smart / confident / likable …
- I’m not good enough.
All these harsh self-judgments are implicit comparisons of ourselves to how we think we should be, and to how we imagine the kind of people we admire actually are.
10. You’ve been let down in love before.
Sometimes, these feelings of inadequacy are the result of an experience in previous relationships.
Perhaps you let your guard down in the past and allowed yourself to believe you were worthy of a partner’s love, only to have it all thrown back in your face.
If you believe that your past relationships didn’t work out because of something that was somehow lacking on your part, that might well be playing a part in the feelings you’re experiencing now.
Steps To Feeling Good Enough For Your Partner
If you feel like you’re not good enough for your partner, that’s something you need to address sooner rather than later, as these feelings can be incredibly damaging to a relationship.
Here are some ways that you can work on this, to help you realize that you are good enough for absolutely anyone and should never question your self-worth.
Talk to a trusted friend or counselor.
This probably isn’t something you can or should deal with yourself. You need support to be able to work through this and achieve healthy levels of self-esteem.
Take some time to talk about your feelings with a friend whose judgement you trust and has your best interests at heart.
If you think it might be helpful, a counselor is definitely worth considering. They might help you to say goodbye to these complexes once and for all.
Treat yourself like you would a friend
We all struggle, and we all fall. So when you find yourself struggling to believe that you’re good enough, it’s time to be your own best friend.
If one of your friends was beating themselves up about something that happened and asked you “Why am I not good enough?”, which one would you choose to tell them?:
- Yeah, you’re not good enough. You didn’t deserve that promotion anyway. You’re terrible at your job and your boss was right to pick the other person.
- You ARE good enough! Your boss doesn’t know what mistake they just made! You are amazing and wonderful, and I’ve seen how hard you’ve worked at this job these past few years. You absolutely deserved the promotion. But something better is going to come along, just you wait!
This one habit changed everything for me. Several years ago, I opened the Notes app on my phone and typed out three things I could be grateful for right then and there. I wrote:
Early, quiet mornings before anyone is awake. My health. Coffee.
Those were the first three things that came to mind. I didn’t spend much time analyzing or dwelling on the goodness of my life. And I certainly didn’t shed a tear. This was not a Hallmark-movie moment! I’m not sure I even felt much change at the time.
But now? That Notes app is my lifeline.
What started as a simple gratitude experiment has grown to encompass every kind of joy—both big and small—that floods my life. I add to the list each morning, and I revisit the list whenever I need a reminder of God’s care and blessings in my life.
Have you always felt like you’re not good enough?
Sometimes we need to pinpoint exactly when we started feeling this way. If you have always felt this way, look into your childhood and examine memories you have of your parents. Your parents didn’t likely mean any malice, but it was more likely a difference in personality. Maybe they made you feel less-than-worthy because of something you failed to do as a child. Perhaps your love language was physical touch and they did not give you the affection you wanted.
If you just recently started feeling this way, look at your relationships and any new situations in your life, like a new job or moving to a new city. Perhaps your feeling less than worthy coincides with a few months after you started your relationship with your boyfriend, or maybe it was due to the pressure of a new job.
Focus on your strengths.
You can be humble and still recognize your strengths, talents and accomplishments. You don’t have to beat yourself up to be humble. In fact, that’s a pretty unhealthy approach, and it’s one of the biggest dangers of comparison living. The more we compare ourselves to others, the worse we feel about ourselves. That’s a dangerous trap we’ve got to avoid.
Try writing down three things you really like about yourself—things you can identify as strengths. Don’t just write “good people skills” like you’d put on a boring resume. Make them personal! Here are three of mine:
- I’m proactive. I like accomplishing things, so whether it’s responding to edits on my next book or making dinner reservations, I’m always looking ahead and taking action.
- I love people. I may or may not have won Brentwood High School’s “friendliest” superlative of my senior class. I really have always enjoyed being around people! Embracing this strength gives me the ability to make people feel loved and cared for when they hang out with me.
- I’m an amazing baby sleep trainer. Seriously. If I wasn’t doing what I do for a living, I’d start a business around sleep training babies. What can I say? It’s a gift. And it’s a good one.
Remember, you’re not the only one.
It’s always important to remember that you’re not the only one who is feeling these feelings.
We all doubt our own self-worth now and again, and this is something you can work through if you really try.
You are unique
How could you ever think, “why am I not good enough?’ when you being here and alive right now makes you one of the rarest events to ever happen in the world. At one point, humans didn’t even exist in this world. And yet somehow despite all the miscarriages, wide-spread illnesses, wars, and asteroids that could’ve killed your ancestors, the universe conspired to ensure that everything you are, survived. You’re a miracle. There are billions of people who didn’t make it through, but you did. You’ve got a unique set of some of the strongest genes, a bunch of quirky traits, and the craziest opportunity to be alive today and now. If there weren’t a purpose or a need for you to survive all of the world catastrophes, you wouldn’t have. So, when you start second-guessing yourself, focus on how you can make the most of each moment while you’re here. You don’t need to know how to reinvent yourself, you’re already special and unique in your own way.
Be more present
Be more mindful, live in the moment, practise meditation. These are familiar words we often hear, and for good reason. Usually, when we have a negative thought about ourselves, those thoughts tend to be about something in the past. We can’t just stop ruminating about them thinking things like “why did I do that?” “Why am I so stupid?”. Or they could be about the future when we imagine the uncountable ways things can go wrong for us, thoughts like “I’m sure she will leave me, I’m not enough for her” or “I’ll screw things up again in tomorrow’s presentation”.
If we stop to focus on what’s really happening at the moment, we would see that this uncomfortable feeling is coming just from our minds. There’s nothing currently threatening us. So it makes sense to develop the skill of slowly moving away from what’s happening inside of our minds to what’s actually happening at the moment.
One of the useful ways to bring you back to the present moment is to use short reminders or prompts to make your attention move outwards. A good one is to ask from time to time “What is happening right now?”. By doing that you will acknowledge what’s happening and will slowly train your attention to the now. For example, you can say “I’m having a thought about tomorrow’s presentation” and “I’m sat on my desk doing some work” “ I can hear people talking in the next room”
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
I have this story; I’ve always had it, I always will have it. All your friends have it. The most confident people have this story.
Rich people worry about being poor. Skinny people worry about being fat. Fat people worry about being skinny (sometimes). I once worried about having too many clients… then I worried about not having enough clients.
The story that just punishes you, day in, day out, and it has no rationality. It doesn’t care about the evidence to the contrary. It’s just a radio station tuned in to gloominess and unhappiness. You try to fight the story, it just gets louder – it’s like turning up the volume, until it covers you, until your whole world is the story.
What we’re doing is, we’re not trying to get rid of the story, we just understand that the story is in context part of a bigger picture. There is also sights and sounds. There is also evidence of good things. There is also feelings in the body.
You can carry the story around and still do what you need to do.
The story that says “Hey I’m a bad coach!” – it doesn’t stop me from coaching. It’s just there sometimes while I coach.
This story that tells you that no one’s gonna like you – that doesn’t have to stop you from approaching people and making new friends. You just tuck that story under your arm and you go ahead and do it, and you feel the anxiety and you feel whatever you need to feel. But you also feel the other feelings. You also notice what’s happening in your environment. You make the picture bigger than just the story.
So have a go at that. It takes a while to get used to. This is often a big complete mindset shift for people, where they’ve tried to avoid and push and distract themselves from the story their whole lives.
What we’re talking about “No no this story is part of you.” It’s time to bring the story into your life, allow it to be, and through doing so allow your life to actually be richer more full.
It allows you to take the actions you need to take, while the story is just playing in the background. It’s just a radio station. It’s just a stone in your shoe. You can feel it, you can still do what you need to do.
Celebrate other people.
Constantly comparing ourselves to others leads to us not cheering on the people who are working hard to get somewhere. And it makes it hard to celebrate with the ones who’ve accomplished something!
So, here’s my challenge to you: When a friend tells you about her new job, be happy for her. If someone buys a new house, take part in their enthusiasm. If someone shares some great news with you, keep the focus on them instead of turning it back to yourself. Find big and small ways to celebrate other people’s accomplishments!
The Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15, NIV). Don’t feel like you’re losing just because someone else is winning. Their success has nothing to do with you, so celebrate their success sincerely while you keep working toward your own success.
Reflect on your relationship
It’s time to sit down and be honest with yourself about your relationship.
Are these feelings and thoughts entirely a result of your complexes?
Or, does your partner do things that compound your feelings of not being good enough for them?
Do they support you, or undermine you?
Is this entirely down to issues that you need to work on, or is there a problem in your relationship that needs addressing?
Helping other people can improve your own feelings of self-worth. In fact, a study from the Cleveland Clinic revealed that adolescents who performed acts of kindness toward strangers can help lift our self esteem. The teen years are a turbulent time when self-worth can plummet. However, this study indicated that helping others in large and small ways can make teens feel more competent.
Apply this advice by finding ways to volunteer or help people you encounter. For instance, you may pay for the coffee order of the person behind you at the café. Or, you could volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
To sum it up: It’s time to permanently delete that toxic ‘why am I not good enough?’ thought from your head. It’s time to say ‘yes, I am good enough.’ If you need to put some effort into getting better, great. Not being good enough is just a temporary state. You have full control over changing it. You want to get an A on that next test, you’re going to study harder and in new ways. You’re afraid of asking out your crush for fear of rejection, just remember that every rejection and failed relationship helps you better understand what makes an amazing relationship. Now, say this out loud, “I am good enough.” Yes, you are good enough. May you remember that for the rest of your life and start loving yourself.