If you’re asking yourself “Why am I not good enough?” you might feel like you’re a burden to those around you, or you might feel like your best never measures up. This can be debilitating to our lives and we find ourselves frozen in the face of decisions or constantly apologizing for taking up space.
But you don’t have to feel this way. You ARE good enough.
In fact, if you’re feeling like you’re not ever enough, this is probably a defense mechanism that you’ve built up around a trauma or fear. You deserve to feel happy, thriving, and fulfilled! It’s possible to break down those defense mechanisms and start living a self-confident existence!
I spent most of my life thinking that I would never be good enough. And it wasn’t until the age of 35 before I learned why I felt this way.
Here are 5 reasons you might feel like you’re not good enough, and 12 ways that you can turn “Why am I not good enough?” into “I am enough”.
4 Potential Reasons You Think “Why Am I Not Good Enough?”
1. You’re 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.
2. You lean toward judgment and comparison
They say that comparison is the thief of joy, and that couldn’t be more true.
Most of the time, when we are judgmental, it was because we saw others being judgmental as children, and we absorbed that habit.
During the pandemic, the number of people searching on Google for “Why am I not good enough” plummeted! There are two primary reasons for this. First, because we were not interacting with others, we weren’t comparing ourselves to them. Second, because we were all going through a shared trauma, we came together and forgave ourselves (and others) for our shortcomings.
If you’re someone who has judgmental thoughts pop in your head, even if you don’t intend to think them, you may be chasing some ideal or expectation you’ve set for yourself.
READ MORE: How to Practice Non-Judgmental Mindfulness
3. You tie purpose in life to achievement
As mentioned in both the previous examples, if you received conditional love as a child or you are prone to judgment, you likely think that your worth in life is driven by your success.
This notion of success (tied to self-worth) isn’t just elitist and misguided; it actively hurts those who believe it.
She goes on to explain that cultivating wisdom and generosity are actually connected to a greater sense of fulfillment and resilience in life. Ultimately, when we connect our worth to our achievement or success, we are automatically setting ourselves up for failure because there is no way of maintaining a high level of success or corporate or financial growth infinitely.
4. You think “Why Am I Not Good Enough?” because you are in an unhealthy relationship
Unhealthy relationships breed all kinds of self-worth issues, especially for those who are empaths.
Here are some signs of an unhealthy relationship:
- the other person is jealous or possessive of you or your time
- they try to isolate you from others
- they use gaslighting or other emotional manipulation techniques
- they cheat or betray your trust
- they “split” their reality, or tend to think in black and white (as well as treat you either very good or very poorly)
If you notice any of these signs in any of your current relationships, including friends, siblings, and parents, it may be time to do some digging and decide if this relationship is one you want to keep around.
12 Ways to Know You’re Good Enough
Basically, any source of “Why am I not good enough” comes from other people, whether it is because of an unhealthy relationship, comparison, judgment, or conditional love.
How do you stop thinking you’re not good enough?
These 11 techniques will have you step away from those people in your life and examine yourself for who you are.
1. Write down the things you like about yourself
Take out a journal or some paper. Write down the things that you like about yourself. Maybe it’s your eyes, or smile. Maybe you love your goofy sense of humor. Or perhaps it’s just that you admire yourself for never giving up. And leave out the toxic positivity. Be real!
Try to aim for at least 20 things you like about yourself. Consider things from all angles. Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Do you have any talents?
- What are your strengths, professionally?
- What are your hobbies?
- What are some special physical features you have that make you unique?
- What are some personality traits that make you unique?
- What are your values?
- Are you a good friend?
2. Decide that you get to choose what you’re worth
Regardless of what caused your feelings of not being good enough, you should know that you get to decide what you’re worth. I believe that every human being inherently has worth, regardless of their race or ethnicity, regardless of their “abled-ness” or “disability”, regardless of their sexual orientation, and regardless of whether they are still the same sex they were assigned at birth.
Many things that our society decided (over trauma-based responses) that were somehow not as good, comes from just that: trauma.
You don’t have to subscribe to these beliefs.
Just the fact that you wrote 20+ things that you like about yourself is more than enough to believe in your own self-worth!
3. 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.
Remember, we become what we think about, so if you’re constantly thinking you’re not good enough… then you’re never going to be.
4. Examine your relationships that make you feel like you’re not good enough
That relationship that you realized is standing in the way of a healthy self-worth… let’s examine it deeper.
First, you want to look for any of those red flags, including jealousy, possessiveness, cheating, betrayal, gaslighting, emotional manipulation, isolation, invalidation, or black and white thinking.
Sometimes these things exist in a relationship just because the other person is human and is struggling to find a way to communicate. But often, especially when there are more than just one, these things point to a larger issue in the relationship.
Consider the other side of the coin as well: does this person give you unconditional support and love? Do they reassure you of your self-worth and try to build you up?
5. Get outside your head to stop thinking “Why am I not good enough?”
Now that you’ve spent plenty of time thinking, you’re going to want to get out of your own head. Letting out all of that chaos is integral to healing your self-worth.
Here are a few ways that you can let go of all the confusion and stress that’s in your mind:
- create some artwork
- write fiction (or even just journal)
- go to therapy
These are some ways that you can let out all that steam that’s building up pressure from not feeling good enough. If you need more inspiration, I highly recommend Emily and Amelia Nagoski’s book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle.
6. Tell yourself “I am enough” every day
Once you’re on the path to letting out all those feelings of poor self-worth and not being good enough, it’s time to start adding in some positive thoughts.
Yes, toxic positivity does exist, but no, this isn’t it.
What you want to do is tell yourself “I am enough” and mean it. Really feel your self-worth rising. Read some of the things you wrote down that you like about yourself every day. Really give yourself a chance to break free of the habit of feeling bad about yourself.
Substituting your negative thoughts with positive ones are helpful in rebuilding a new self-worth.
7. 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!
Of course, you would choose the second! (If you would choose the first and that person is still friends with you, maybe you are the toxic one in the relationship.)
So when shit hits the fan and you’re feeling bad, pretend that you’re a friend. Comfort yourself in a way that you would comfort a friend going through the same thing.
8. Consider how far you’ve come
We all started somewhere. And chances are, you didn’t start your adult life with an infallible sense of self-worth. We have a tendency to feel small when we’re in our twenties, and as we age, we gain valuable life experience that helps us to know who we are, know our values, and know our self-worth.
Personally, when I graduated college, I was on the path to becoming a covert narcissist. I was in a very toxic relationship and was very close-minded. But as I was forced to leave my very first job, I grew in humility as well as strength and perseverance. I gained wisdom, learned to communicate, and started to stand up for myself in an objective and open-minded way.
When I look back on that time in my life, I wish I had known then what I know now, but it also makes me that much more grateful for what I know now. I’ve come far enough to stop thinking “Why am I not good enough?”!
9. Catch yourself when you compare yourself to others
Comparing yourself to someone else won’t bring you anything by strife. When you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone else, or even just being judgmental toward someone else, check yourself.
If you are envious of them for something, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can and learning. It’s okay to want something for yourself, whether it be someone’s natural humor, or their sense of style. But coveting that thing is detrimental to both you and the other person.
Also, if you catch yourself judging someone else, remember that your traits and values are unique to you and that not everyone has to subscribe to the same things you do. The most you can wish is that someone is living the best version of themselves and living their truth.
And if that person is not living the best version of themselves? It’s not your place to judge, and no one gained a friend, trust, insight, or wisdom by criticising someone else.
10. Decide to give yourself unconditional love
The best step I have ever taken for myself and my self-worth was when I decided to give myself unconditional love. That meant:
- I forgave myself from my mistakes
- I nurtured myself through a difficult time
- I celebrated my successes
- I allowed myself to grieve something missing
Unconditional love means that you stop beating yourself up for every little obstacle that steps in your way. You’re doing your best. You can stop asking “Why am I not good enough” and start treating yourself like the giant you are.
11. You are good enough when you’re trying your best
As mentioned above, we’re all just doing our best. As a former teacher, I can assure you that everyone’s best looks completely different.
We’ve been raised in a world where you’re plunked down at 5 years old into a classroom of other 5 year olds and told to go after the same thing, at the same time, at the exact same manner. But that’s not how life works. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, methods of learning, and different times they bloom into different skills.
When we stop comparing ourselves, we begin to embrace our own best. You might feel yourself getting angry less often, and you might experience more joy in life! Know that you’re doing your best… it’s all you can do and soon enough, you’ll stop asking yourself “Why am I not good enough?”
12. Communicate, set boundaries, or end relationships if you need to
Lastly, sometimes, if it is one particular relationship that is causing you to feel like you’re not good enough, you might need to consider communicating with that person.
Assume that they are doing their best and communicate upfront. Tell them: “It makes me feel like I’m not good enough when you ______.” They may not have any idea that they’re making you feel that way. And a sign of a healthy relationship is that they take you seriously and work with you to find a solution.
On the other hand, if that person does not take you seriously, and maybe they even continue to gaslight you or invalidate your emotions, then this is a red flag that the relationship is toxic.
You may need to set some boundaries with that person, and it’s possible you may have to end the relationship completely.
After I began to step into my own self-worth in my mid to late twenties, I confronted my then-husband. When he continued, time and again to invalidate my feelings and assert that these issues were not worth his time, I knew it was time for divorce.
If you’ve been thinking “Why am I not good enough?” lately, it’s time to turn that statement around! These 12 practical steps will help you examine your worth, your mindset, and your relationships and will help you take the necessary steps to bolster your self-worth.
Believing “I am enough” is possible. Take it from my experience!
READ MORE: How to Boost Your Self-Confidence