Why we feel like we’re not “good enough” and 7 ways to change that
In a world where we’re constantly exposed to everyone else’s successes (physical, professional and sentimental) on social media, it’s easy to feel like we’re falling short on something, like we’re not good enough.
To get over this feeling, we go to the gym more and we work harder, and as a result we get more fit and maybe even get promoted – but that nagging feeling still remains.
So why do so many of us feel like we’re not good enough? And how do we deal with this familiar feeling? The feeling of not being ‘good enough’ may have started in childhood with a demanding parent or teacher: ‘Look how polite your friend Sam is, why can’t you be more like him?’ ‘70% on your test? What did your classmates get?’
It likely got exacerbated as we grew up, with social media exposing us day after day to everyone’s amazing (filtered) life and everyone around us seemingly being incredibly successful, cool and having their lives completely figured out…
Regardless of which external trigger caused the feeling the first time, our internal dialogue has been keeping it alive ever since. Sometimes, we get good feedback or recognition for something we’ve done and the feeling subsides temporarily – only to come back in full force once something else happens which seems to be the ultimate proof: you’re not good enough.
The problem with relying on external validation to make the feeling go away is that we are completely at its mercy. We never know how long the negative thoughts will last because we don’t know when someone will pay us a compliment. And so the vicious cycle continues…
The best way to effectively deal with the feeling of not being ‘good enough’ is to recognise that it comes from within, and to train our mind to stop engaging in negative thoughts. The following tips really help. Like the gym though, you need to do them on a regular basis in order for them to come naturally.
Let your negative thoughts float away
This requires a little imagination but, it really works! When a negative thought comes up, picture placing it on a little boat and letting it float away on the water. This trains your mind to let negative thoughts go rather than trying to stop them – which only makes matters worse.
Celebrate your wins
It’s easy to put pressure on yourself to always perform better while ignoring what we do well (‘Yeah, but that doesn’t count – it was easy’). Try to be more mindful of your successes and take a moment to celebrate them. It can be anything: getting a promotion or some positive feedback, helping a friend feel better – whatever. Celebrating small wins helps to realise that you have successes in your everyday life and trains you to be more mindful of them.
Fire up your imagination
Think of a time when you were ‘good enough’ – when you did something well. Make sure that you visualise the exact moment: what were the surroundings like?
What made you feel good in that specific moment? How did you feel? Where in your body do you feel it: in your chest, your head, you arms? What thoughts accompany this feeling?
Think of a word to describe yourself in that moment (it can be anything: ‘I’m awesome’, ‘I rock’.. whatever!) Remind yourself of that moment and repeat the words over to yourself a few times.
Do this 5 times in a row a few times a day – really make sure that you feel it in your body, it really helps to remind your mind of that feeling!
Limit social media
Social media does you no favours in terms of self-esteem. Constantly being exposed to other peoples’ (filtered) lives will not help your feelings of being good enough – your life looks amazing on social media too, doesn’t it!? Try to limit checking social media to once or twice a day, and avoid reverting to it automatically every time you’re bored.
Talk to a friend
Sharing your worries with someone who cares about you has been demonstrated to reduce stress and anxiety. Not only that, but you’d be surprised at how many people feel like they’re not ‘good enough’. By telling people how you feel, you might learn that others feel the same, which will demonstrate that it’s a feeling fuelled by you rather than a reality.
Sit comfortably with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Push your feet against the floor as hard as possible and notice the physical feeling of this. Touch something – a pet, a set of keys, a phone, whatever! – and notice the feeling of the object against your fingertips. This really helps to distract you from your negative thoughts and focus on the present – try to do this as often as possible.
Speak to a therapist
Doing the above tips alone is really helpful, but a therapist can really help you to deal with your feelings and change your mindset. Therapy can really help to deal with unpleasant feelings and puts you in charge of your emotions so that you don’t surrender to them.
On YourMind, you can speak to highly qualified therapists via Skype at an affordable rate, wherever you are. Meet our therapists here: yourmind.co/therapists
Margot is the founder of YourMind, a platform created with the belief that everyone should have tools and help to look after their mental wellbeing and become the best version of themselves.