Have you ever been in a relationship that took feeling not good enough to a whole new level? And have you ever wondered if it was because you felt not good enough that you got into the relationship in the first place?
We have all known someone like this. At the very least we have witnessed relationships in which one partner’s very life cries, “I’m not worthy!” Part of you wants to kidnap her. Part of you wants to introduce her to a great therapist. And all of you wants to rid her of her belief that she’s not good enough.
Chances are we have all been “her” at some point in our lives. Relationships aren’t even necessary for exposing the not-good-enough adversary. Sometimes feeling not good enough can make relationships downright impossible.
And yet, the signs of feeling not good enough will show up in your life just the same. They will be as clear and damaging as if a rotten boyfriend were driving home the message.
The seed of low self-esteem and low self-worth is usually planted in childhood. The self doesn’t have the cognitive or experiential ability to unearth it. It becomes part of the child’s formative development. She knows no differently, even though she grows up feeling somehow “not right”…and ”not good enough.”
Perhaps you recognize that young girl. Perhaps you struggle with self-doubt and self-defeating habits.
Perhaps you value others’ opinions at the cost of your own time, energy and self-esteem. Perhaps you are so sensitive to rejection that you will do anything to avoid it.
If you are a people-pleaser, you probably don’t even recognize that you are misusing the gift of empathy. Your seeming selfless concern for ensuring everyone else’s happiness is really a mask for your fear of rejection. “Oh God! What if I speak my opinion and everyone disagrees? I’ll have no friends. What if I’m not there to help when a friend is hurting? Better to keep everyone happy, even if I’m not.”
Other ways that feeling not good enough shows up as a negative, damaging habit include:
- Feeling guilty.
You don’t feel guilty because you have done something wrong. You feel guilty because you have internalized negative messages and are convinced you can never be or do enough.
- Thinking you are a failure.
You disregard your achievements, difficulties and efforts. You procrastinate because you get lost in the details, missing the forest for the trees. Your insecurity convinces you that anything less than perfection from you equals failure.
- Being a perfectionist.
You second-guess yourself, feel overwhelmed, procrastinate, and often simply give up. Not getting into the game is somehow easier than risking a shut-out. When people recognize your gifts and achievements, your belief that you are not good enough convinces you that you are an imposter. “It’s only a matter of time before they find out.”
- Struggling with depression and anxiety.
If you always feel you are not good enough, you are at a higher risk of suicide. Your self-esteem is conditional — and fragile — and always based on an unrealistic notion of perfection.
- Ruminating over bad outcomes.
“It’s all my fault. If I had only said this, done that….”
When you read this list, you may feel sorry for the person described. That’s a sad way to have to live, right?
But what if the person described is you? Can you recognize and quiet the liar in your mind that is tearing apart your self-esteem? And can you recognize how the habit of not feeling good enough is keeping you from living your best life?
How long would you stay in a relationship with a boyfriend who constantly berated you? Convinced you that everything that goes wrong is your fault? Told you that no one else would even give you the time of day, let alone love you?
It’s a horrible image. But it’s reality — both in relationships with others and (especially) in the relationship with yourself. And allowing it to continue can lead to the erosion of all your beautiful potential.
Sadly, the time when you need love the most is also the time when you feel you deserve it the least. But that is the very moment when you have to heed the call to heroism on behalf of your precious inner child.
There are moments in life when you simply have to rise up and do what you know is right. The adult in you may not feel worthy of the effort, but the child who was unjustly taught she wasn’t good enough deserves the effort.
Is it time to kick the habit of not feeling good enough? You may not be able to do it cold-turkey, but you certainly don’t have to do it alone. We are here to help.