We learn the maxim as children: There will always be people greater and lesser than you. But some of us hear only, “You are never good enough.” We focus on those we perceive as greater, and assume we are (always) lesser.
You may recognize that relentless, nagging voice. It’s like a parrot that has been with you since childhood, and now reminds you incessantly of every destructive sentiment and projection you once heard.
“You’re too fat.”
“You’re not popular.”
“No one cares what you have to say.”
“Your ideas are ridiculous — no one will give them the time of day.”
“You don’t deserve any better than what you have.”
“You’re doomed to be just like your parents.”
“You won’t make the team — there are too many really talented people trying out.”
“Your efforts are never good enough.”
“You’re too old/young/poor/stupid/unknown to have any success now.”
“You’re a failure.”
Tragically, these thought patterns don’t just pop up in adulthood or after a defeating experience. Their seed is planted early by parents and bullies. And when the brain is still in its formative stages, how is it to distinguish between what is right and wrong, good and bad? It simply learns…grows…and repeats. “You’re stupid.” “You’re always messing up.” “You’re never good enough.”
The reality of this toxic origin can be seen in teenagers whose primary worry is that they will never be good enough “because someone else is always better.” They become paralyzed with fear of failure and inferiority. Even as they sit in the same room with those, they assume are better, the fear is common and pervasive. Everyone is comparing. Everyone feels never good enough.
Women are especially prone to this constant comparing, and they pay greatly for it. Low self-esteem, anxiety and depression form an inextricable cycle with the debilitating fear of what others think.
Happiness depends, at least in part, on courageously putting your ideas, goals, desires and dreams “out there,” Believing you are never good enough can thwart your happiness by inhibiting your ability and willingness to speak up for yourself.
The downward spiral becomes, in essence, a self-fulfilling prophecy. The inferiority you assume about yourself makes you feel powerless. And the less power you have, the less leeway you have in your life choices.
You end up in a “low power double bind”: If you don’t speak up, you don’t get noticed. If you do speak up, you get punished. Either way, your belief in being never good enough only gains reinforcement.
No matter what your self-defeating beliefs are, they are saboteurs of happiness. Challenge yourself to the “What’s beneath that? And what’s beneath that?” approach to examining them. Chances are you will repeatedly come up with the same answer: “I’m never good enough.”
The truth, as you may know with your head but not your heart, is that you are good enough. But sometimes profound truth is easier to get out of the mouth than into the heart.
There are ways to silence that pesty parrot and increase your power, confidence and self-esteem. And even if you can’t silence her, you can teach her new (and affirming) things to say.
If you have silly, self-defeating beliefs that are sabotaging your happiness, we can help you re-language your self-talk and claim your right to happiness. You can reach us here.