Do you tend to ask the question: “Why am I not good enough“?
Perhaps you sometimes engage in negative self-talk and beat yourself up about minor mistakes or failures.
Maybe you have an unhealthy habit of comparing yourself to others and feeling worthless as a result.
We all have insecurities that make us feel inadequate from time to time, whether it be physical appearance, performance at work, or being funny. However, the situation is different if you’re constantly feeling not good enough.
That unhelpful belief can interfere with your daily functioning, causing significant distress and pushing you to isolate or avoid certain. Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome this issue, such as seeking professional help and starting counselling for low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
In this article, we explore the causes and psychology of low self-esteem. We also share practical techniques and strategies to transform your mindset, so keep reading.
Understanding the “Not Good Enough” Mindset
Having a “not good enough” mindset is a painful, often persistent issue that can be challenging to deal with. This struggle with low self-esteem boils down to feeling like you don’t deserve the love, friendships, and successes in your life.
Repeated often enough, it becomes an unhealthy pattern of self-defeating thoughts, emotions and behaviours which take a toll on your life, contributing to:
- relationship issues,
- problems at work,
- low mood,
- increased stress,
- imposter syndrome,
- social withdrawal,
- tendency to ruminate ,
- heightened risk of depression and anxiety.
Let’s say you believe your needs aren’t as important as those of your partner.
As a result, you tend to dismiss, ignore or minimise them and hold back from communicating openly.
Yet, that only sabotages your relationship, creating more distance between you and your partner, filling you with frustration, resentment and continuous feeling like you’re not good enough.
Why Do I Feel Like I’m Not Good Enough? The Root Causes
Low self-esteem and feeling of not being good enough can stem from various causes, including:
- naturally seek approval and crave unconditional love,
- absorb negative messages and comments from their surroundings like a sponge and treat them as facts.
- If you were overly criticised or held up to unrealistic expectations as a child by your primary caregiver, chances are that upon failing to have good grades, helping more with house chores, being more friendly, or well-mannered – even a minor mishap and being yelled at made you feel worthless.
- Perhaps you grew up with a parent with a mental health issue and felt responsible for their happiness. Yet, no matter how hard you tried to be more useful or considerate, your parent wouldn’t get better, and you internalised a belief: “I’m not good enough.”
Traumatic or difficult past
Surviving or witnessing a traumatic event takes a toll on mental health, influencing one’s beliefs and view of the world. Experience of sexual abuse or betrayal can lead to shame, guilt, worthlessness and feeling not good enough.
The important part is to recognise the impact of those events and address that, preferably in therapy, with the assistance of a qualified professional.
We all are familiar with external societal pressure to act, look and behave a certain way and how it affects our mental health. Yet, only some experienced the struggle of living in a dysfunctional family, being with an abusive partner or going to a hostile workplace and how they all can contribute to low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
Overcoming Negative Self-Talk
Due to our hard-wired tendency to focus on the negatives, being self-critical is easily accessible, even automatic, for us. Without realising it, you might think:
- “I forgot my wallet. I’m such an idiot!”
- “I didn’t go to the gym again. So pathetic, I can’t even do that right.”
To tackle this issue:
1. Start by becoming aware of your thoughts and recognising when you engage in negative self-talk.
2. Pause to repeat the thought, i.e. “He looks disappointed in me. I’ll never be good enough for him”.
3. Then, catch any thinking errors and see if you can correct them, i.e.:
- you can’t really read another person’s mind,
- the word “never” is extreme and inaccurate as it eliminates any middle ground
4. Carry on, mindful of how you talk to yourself.
The best antidote for negative self-talk is self-compassion. Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer in self-compassion research, says it can be cultivated by embracing these 3 elements:
|aim:||Accepting your reality (low self-esteem included) with warmth and gentleness rather than ignoring your pain.||Instead of withdrawing socially due to being ashamed of your pain, flaws or mistakes, treat them as a part of the shared human experience.||Shifting focus from feeling not good enough to embodying a non-judgmental attitude towards both positive and negative emotions.|
|result:||Achieving greater emotional balance.||Feeling comfort from not being alone.||Having bigger openness and clarity.|
Setting Realistic Expectations
If you keep wondering: “Why am I never enough?“, look at the standards you set for yourself and others. Unrealistic expectations are the breeding ground for frustration and disappointment, self-loathing and self-judgment:
Let’s say you have an image of a perfect date with your partner, but they don’t do/say the right thing, so you get upset and start being passive-aggressive.
Now, neither of you is enjoying the date: your partner is confused or frustrated, and you feel guilty for spoiling a nice moment.
And in the long term, you get tired of not being good enough.
Fortunately, setting fewer, more tangible expectations can support your self-esteem:
What if you noticed your expectations and questioned their validity?
Then, think of a more probable scenario where, instead of getting triggered, you let go and enjoy the present moment as it is:
Start your date with the intention to be non-judgmental and compassionate towards your partner and simply to be present and give your full attention to your interactions. Whenever you catch yourself feeding your expectations, gently bring your focus back to engaging in your conversation, shifting your awareness on the here and now.
Fostering a Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck, an American psychologist, spent her life researching the fixed vs growth mindset people have around their ability to develop and overcome difficulties, such as low self-esteem:
|Fixed Mindset||Growth Mindset|
|Core Belief||your skills, intelligence and talent is fixed and impossible to change||with hard work, and perseverance, you can learn anything|
|Results||needing to prove your worth||passion for personal development|
|seeking external validation||being resilient when facing a difficulty|
|comparing yourself to others||treating failures as a part of the learning process|
|avoiding any form of feedback||open to constructive criticism|
|higher level of negative emotions ||excitement and curiosity|
When you don’t feel good enough, write down your belief and find small ways to focus more on the growth mindset and opportunities instead of obstacles, i.e., by listing things you appreciate about yourself.
Building a Support Network
Friendship is important for your mental health – there’s no question about it. So make sure to surround yourself with people who care about you, and are reliable and compassionate. Open up and tell them about your struggle. Chances are, their perspective might help you feel better and less alone.
However, when someone makes you feel not good enough, consider gaining distance or removing them from your life. You can definitely treat condescending, judgmental or manipulative behaviours like love bombing or gaslighting as a red flag.
Taking Action Towards Change
If you’re tired of not being enough, think of ways to align positive changes in your life with your core values.
- If you appreciate honesty, try your best to show up authentically in your exchanges with other people.
- If being physically active is important for you, prioritise going to the gym and follow through.
- Get in touch with what matters most to you, and then prioritise engaging in activities that reflect those values. That, on its own, will boost your motivation to take action.
- While doing so, focus on the process, not the final goal. This way, you can take small steps each day to move toward your objective and strengthen your self-esteem along the way.
Stop Feeling Like You’re Not Good Enough With Therapy Central
If you keep struggling with your sense of worth and feeling not good enough, remember that you don’t have to go through this challenge alone. While friends and loved ones are essential, sometimes their support can be insufficient.
Starting therapy, on the other hand, is a perfect opportunity for you to:
- process difficult emotions,
- recognise unhelpful beliefs,
- receive professional guidance from a therapist,
- learn ways to transform your mindset.
Click here for a free 15-minute consultation and begin counselling for low self-esteem and lack of confidence today.