You’ve tried everything from meditation to reading all the advice about true happiness, but you still feel like you’re not good enough.
And worst of all, you can even remember when you started feeling that way.
Did it happen while you were growing up, or you were born with an inner critic that you somehow can’t shut down (not even for a second)?
Feeling like you’re not good enough is one of the most draining things in the world and the process of overcoming it requires understanding, determination, and patience.
It requires learning the art of self-love.
It is when you’re convinced that no matter what you do or say, it will never be good enough for other people, or for you.
It is when you’re afraid to make mistakes in life because they make you feel like the ultimate failure.
There are many reasons for feeling less worthy, being sensitive, and constantly rehashing negative thoughts in your head, and those reasons are often connected to deep-rooted issues.
Before diving deeper into things you should remember when you’re feeling like you’re not good enough, let’s first check out the possible roots of that feeling:
7 Common Reasons Why You Feel Like You’re Not Good Enough
One of the main reasons why we feel like we’re not good enough lies in the past and previous events.
As children, we absorb everything around us – the way people talk, walk, and most importantly, the way people behave in certain situations.
We connect everything and frame those memories in a special compartment of our brain called hidden assumptions.
As children, we fail to understand that everything happens for a reason or the real reasons behind certain actions.
So, we make assumptions. We create our own beliefs about why things happen and we connect them with our own, unique reasons.
For example, if a child wakes up one day and realizes that one of their parents is gone, the child will not really understand why it happened.
All the child knows is that they love their parent and now they are gone. The hidden assumption here is: “If you care about someone, they abandon you.”
This hidden assumption becomes a deep-rooted issue and it becomes a part of a child’s everyday life and then their life as a grown-up.
These assumptions work on a subconscious level meaning you won’t really be aware of them, but they will still be active in the background.
And that core belief or assumption is what might make you feel like you’re not good enough, like you don’t deserve love and that you need to earn it.
This fear might force you to never let anyone close to you.
2. You’re overly self-critical
Have you ever listened to your thoughts carefully? Have you noticed that 90% of the time your thoughts are negative and that you seldom think about anything positive?
We often become convinced that the reason why we feel we’re not good enough is because of something or someone else.
We think that we’re not good enough because someone said something insulting or took us for granted.
But, sometimes we are the reason why we feel that way. The human brain is complex and tricky.
If we let our thoughts prevail without ever interfering, we might find ourselves in the realm of self-doubt, lacking self-worth, and with low self-esteem.
A healthy dose of self-criticism is motivating, but a toxic one is destructive. And that’s when we start asking ourselves: Why am I not good enough?
There’s no real reason for it, but we feel that way because we let all the negativity penetrate our thoughts and influence our behaviour.
There’s only one person who can silence your inner critic and that is YOU!
You can do it by practicing positive thinking, self-talk, and meditation.
If you do all these things on a regular basis, you will notice a significant improvement when it comes to your self-confidence and over time you’ll be less self-critical and self-loathing.
You’ll realize that you’re enough!
3. You surround yourself with overly critical and/or judgmental people
If you ask me, one of the most toxic things on the planet is being surrounded by critical and judgmental people.
We all know that human beings can be really toxic (especially when they’re having a bad day).
I bet that in everyone’s life there are a few people who are overly critical and/or judgmental.
Those people might be your friends, parents, family members, partners, or random people on social media.
And those people have the power to change the quality of your whole life in a second. They follow your every move and they can’t wait to jump into critic mode.
Whatever you say or do, they’ll always find a way to convince you that you’re not doing something right, that you’re incapable of achieving something or fixing something.
Or they judge your decisions and choices even though it’s none of their business.
By doing that they’re subtly implanting a message into your brain that you’re not good enough. And over time you’ll start to believe it.
If this is the case with you, you need to stand up for yourself and stop spending time with such toxic people (or at least minimize the time you spend with them if you don’t have the luxury of avoiding them completely).
4. You had a highly demanding, critical, or distant parent(s)
As a person who had highly critical parents, I can totally relate to this one. So, let’s start with the critical aspect first.
There’s a thin line between healthy criticism and toxic criticism.
Healthy criticism is criticising your child from time to time to motivate them to do something better, whereas toxic criticism is when you constantly criticise someone.
It’s when you never say anything positive to your child, but you only acknowledge when they do something wrong.
Then the child starts to think that they’re not good enough because they’re never praised, but only criticised. And such children grow up into adults who still think they’re not good enough.
Also, if the parents are too demanding, they don’t give the child the space to make mistakes.
They often demand perfection and when children are unable to meet or fall short of their parents’ impossible standards, they start feeling bad about themselves.
Distant parents make children feel like they’re not good enough because they never show any kind of affection and they don’t shower their children with the unconditional love that is the essence of happy parenting.
(In most cases, the parents also didn’t experience such love, so they don’t know what unconditional love is).
Children who’ve never experienced a parent’s unconditional love are at high risk of becoming a grown up who will never feel good enough because they weren’t worthy of their parent(s) love.
5. Your parent(s) were unable to offer you stability or protection
Not all children are lucky to have parents who are able to offer them stability and safety. Some parents are fighting their own battles with alcohol, drugs, or they suffer from anxiety and depression.
Such parents are often not able to show their children unconditional love and to make them feel protected.
Since they are fighting their own demons, they don’t have enough time to be there for their children.
And because of that, the children start to feel like they are the reason why their parent(s) are absent or why they’re drinking.
Children don’t have the ability to think rationally, therefore their only conclusion will be that they are doing something terribly wrong and making their parents do things they normally wouldn’t.
They start to feel as if they are not good enough from their early childhood and this feeling follows them into their adulthood as well.
When they grow up, they start searching for stability and protection somewhere else (in their partners) or they become attracted to commitment-phobes because they often feel like they need to compete for other people’s affection and approval.
6. You didn’t get enough attention and love as a kid
As already mentioned, unconditional love is one of the most important things when it comes to healthy and happy parenting (especially at an early age).
If your parents didn’t give you enough attention and love when you were a kid, chances are that’s the reason why you think: I’m not good enough.
As a child, you probably thought that you were the problem – that you were the reason why your parents never hugged you or kissed you good night.
Children do that. They connect the dots in their own, silly way.
They don’t have the capacity to understand the deep-rooted issues behind this phenomenon.
In most cases, parents who don’t give attention or shower their children with love didn’t receive it from their parents, either.
It’s like an endless chain that needs to be understood and broken into pieces in order for something to change. But, that’s easier said than done.
Luckily, most children learn valuable lessons from their parent’s behaviour and they don’t do the same things to their future children.
If someone lacked parental love, they know how they felt about it and that’s why they promise they’ll never repeat the same mistakes as their parents. But, some things remain or hardly change.
Those children will continue to feel like they’re not good enough until they realize their parent’s lack of attention and love was not their fault.
7. You had a traumatic experience(s) in the past
Physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse… There are many categories and subcategories of abuse and these three are the most common ones.
Now, many people think that emotional abuse is something that doesn’t leave scars because they are not visible like with physical abuse.
Those scars may not be seen on a person’s body, but they are deeply rooted in their soul.
Perhaps they remind a person of those painful events every single day and over time those feelings get worse and worse.
They become convinced that they’re not good enough, that the reason why something bad happened to them is that they deserved it (even though they didn’t).
It’s really hard to convince children that something is not their fault. They grow up into adults who still believe that they are a bad person even though they haven’t done anything wrong.
Traumatic experiences are like ghosts – they tend to follow a person through their entire life.
Seeking professional help or advice is often the only thing that can make them feel better about themselves and everything they’ve gone through.
10 Things To Remember When You Feel You’re Not Good Enough
Now that we’re done with the list of common reasons for not feeling good enough, it’s time to dive into the self-help department.
Whenever you start feeling like this, remind yourself of the following things:
1. You don’t have to be a slave to your inner critic
We all have our inner critic inside us, but some are louder and some are less intrusive. What you need to do is think about why you had that one negative thought in the first place.
Do you repeat in your head that you’re too lazy because you haven’t done something yet? In that case, you should start doing something about it. You should roll up your sleeves and start working.
And you should tell yourself that your unwillingness to do something at the moment doesn’t make you lazy or a bad person.
We all have days when we’re a little off and we’re less motivated to do our daily tasks.
That doesn’t make us less worthy or not good enough. It’s time to start making a difference and prevent that inner critic from turning you into a slave of your own thoughts!
Whenever you start feeling like you’re not good enough, it’s important to detach yourself from that illusion.
You need to change your mindset to a more positive one that will help you destroy the negative one.
Think about all the happy moments from the past, your achievements, something nice you’ve done for someone; think about your loved ones and all the other things that make your heart beat faster.
You need to find that silver lining again by recalling and reminding yourself of all the positive things in your life!
It won’t be easy at first. You’ll notice the battle between your positive and negative side, but if your stay persistent, you will most certainly succeed in making the positive one prevail!
3. Create a positive memory list
Once you’re done with contemplating all the positive things in your life, it’s wise to write them down on a piece of paper so that you always have a reminder when you need it.
Create a positive memory list of every single positive thing you can think of about yourself, your lifestyle, your personality, and so on.
Think of the moments when you were truly happy about doing something, when you did something inspiring and when you helped someone in need.
Once you start to feel like you’re not good enough, it’s really important to remind yourself of all those things because they are your motivation and proof that you are enough.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others
Let’s face it. It has never been easier to compare yourself to others than it is nowadays.
All those perfect people on the TV, all those rich and perfect people on social media, your neighbours, your co-workers, your friends, your family. The list goes on and on.
There is not a single thing or a person you can’t compare yourself to (I even compare myself to my cat, yup).
Whenever you see someone “prettier” or who is more settled in life than you, you automatically start comparing yourself to them and, as a result, you start to feel that you’re not good enough.
It’s important to remind yourself that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.
It’s important to be grateful for what you already have. (And it’s important to stop comparing yourself to others).
As mentioned above, social media is one of the biggest things that can ruin our mental health and make us feel like we’ll never be good enough – no matter how hard we try.
Social media convinces us that perfect lives exist and that we could also be living that perfect life if we just start dressing like them, start behaving like them, and start living like them.
In case you’re wondering who “them” is, I’m referring to all those (self-proclaimed) influencers.
To prevent yourself from overdosing on comparisons, you need to minimize the time you spend on social media and do other things that will undoubtedly be more fulfilling.
6. Boost your self-esteem by doing a few nice things for yourself or others
This is a great way to help you feel better instantly. Whenever you feel like you’re not good enough, make a list of a few things that you could do in order to help someone, or to help yourself.
The accent is on doing a nice thing that will make someone’s day or doing something nice for yourself that will make you proud of yourself.
It could be anything from helping someone with their chores to re-arranging your wardrobe.
Once you’ve done it, make sure you give yourself a pat on the back and say out loud: I did a great job! I’m freaking awesome!
7. Celebrate both big and small wins
One of the reasons why so many people start feeling bad about themselves is because they only celebrate their big wins (like finishing college, getting a job or similar).
They forget about all those little wins that mean a lot as well.
Little wins like getting out of the bed in the morning, preparing breakfast (being grateful for the opportunity to prepare breakfast), overcoming your fears, hitting the gym when you feel like crap, and so on.
There are thousands of small wins that follow us through our day and if you pay attention to them (and not only to the big ones), you will realize your unlimited power and potential.
8. Letting it all out will make you feel better instantly
When you feel like you’re not good enough, do you often suppress those feelings? Do you tell yourself that what you’re feeling is not something you should share with others?
If this is you, think again. Instead of suppressing, you should DEFINITELY talk it all out with your best friend, a family member, or someone close to you.
Because the more you suppress it, the more intense the feeling will be.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking it out with someone, there’s another method called journaling.
Write down your feelings and thoughts in your journal on a regular basis or whenever you feel like that. This will have the same effect as if you talked to someone about it.
9. Always focus on the process instead of the outcome
This concept is truly brilliant. When I was at college, I never, ever thought about the day I would finally get my diploma (and be happy for the rest of my life).
Instead, I focused on the process. I focused on every single exam and every time I passed one, I saw it as a small win.
Win after win after win – and there you are. When you focus on the process, you will be more present and realistic regarding your expectations.
You will not think that you’re not good enough, but you will focus on doing your best in each situation.
10. Target the negativity triggers and get rid of them (or minimize them)
We’ve already listed one negative trigger – social media. Each person has lots of triggers and we’re often not even aware of them.
So, it’s time to think about what things make you feel bad and have a negative influence on your psyche. Those things might be people, your beliefs, your habits, and so on.
Once you’ve identified them, focus on getting rid of them (or at least minimizing their impact).
And remember: You are not alone.
In case you haven’t been told lately, you are important, you are amazing, and you are loved. Your past doesn’t define your present or the future.
You are a brave human being who has been through a lot. You’ve fought, you’ve cried, your heart has been broken into pieces, but you’ve never given up.
You’ve never given up being you. An imperfectly perfect human being with the strength of a warrior. So, don’t you dare think that you’re not good enough!