No matter what others have told you, and no matter what you think of yourself at this moment, you need to know that you are good enough.
No. You are more than good enough.
Just as you are.
Whether you struggle with confidence and self-esteem or not, you may have a foundational belief that you’re not good enough, which was placed there by the outside world.
In this post, I invite you to look at your level of confidence as well as where any not good enough thinking might have come from (it might be there and you don’t even know it).
Believing you’re not good enough can hold you back, but fortunately, if you find a way to turn that thinking pattern around, your life can be better.
- Sometimes, It’s Hard to Be Confident in Yourself
- Where Does Not Good Enough Come From? (the bulk of the post)
- How Not Good Enough can Hold you Back
- What could Happen if you DID Feel Good Enough?
Sometimes, It’s Hard to Be Confident in Yourself
Most of us have a lack of confidence in ourselves in some area of our lives.
It’s a different experience for everyone.
You may not have much financial confidence, or you may lack confidence when it comes to securing a job or finding and building a solid relationship. Maybe you’re not confident with your health right now, or you don’t feel confident at your current weight.
When it comes right down to it though, confidence is less about certain areas of your life and more about how you feel about yourself.
- Many people confidently move through a career with great success but don’t feel confident in who they are.
- You may have a loving and secure relationship but not feel love towards yourself or feel secure about who you are.
- You might rock the night with an amazing outfit that everyone admires, but beat yourself up the whole evening for being fat.
- You might give a speech in front of hundreds of people, but even while the applause echoes behind you, all you can think about are the mistakes you made and how your speech wasn’t good enough.
Confidence is a huge topic and could be its own book (or volume of books), but ultimately, if you lack confidence, there’s something about you that either you wish was different, or that you don’t think is good enough.
Here are a couple of definitions of self-confidence:
- “confidence in oneself and in one’s powers and abilities” (Merriam Webster)
- “the belief that you can do things well and that other people respect you” (Cambridge Dictionary)
Based on these two definitions, your lack of confidence in who you are may be because…
- You don’t believe you have power or control over certain areas of your life.
- You don’t feel that you have a strong ability in one or more areas of your life.
- You don’t believe you can do certain things very well.
- You don’t think others respect you.
When you really dig deep here, what’s behind your lack of confidence?
How highly you value your worth.
How highly you value yourself.
How highly you value yourself as a person, just for existing (and not based on approval from the outside world) is your level of self-esteem.
Your self-confidence is related to your level of self-esteem, but self-esteem is the foundation upon which your confidence is built.
This is key.
Underneath your feelings of low self-confidence is actually low self-esteem, which is “a confidence and satisfaction in oneself”, according to Merriam Webster.
So, if you’re not satisfied with yourself, you do not hold yourself in high esteem (the regard in which one is held).
Aahh…now we’re getting somewhere.
How highly do you regard yourself?
I mean ALL of you (mentally and physically). Not just the parts you like…the parts you don’t like too.
The reason you probably don’t feel confident in yourself is because you don’t hold yourself in high regard.
If you think you’re pretty confident, though, you probably believe you have good self-esteem too. Quite possibly.
Your self-esteem, however, might be lower than you think. Yes…even if you’re an extrovert who is highly successful and functions fully in society…you too, might have self-esteem issues.
That’s what I found out about me.
If you asked me in the past about how I felt about myself, I would have told you I’m a confident person and proud of who I am, for sure. I would have told you that my self-esteem was in tact and not an issue.
Caught off guard, I made the discovery that I have some not good enough mentality floating around my head. I knew I carried doubts and some other negative thoughts, but I didn’t realize the not good enough one was in there.
Now that I’m aware, I’ve been able to look at things a bit differently. My recent insight is helping me figure some things out.
If your self-esteem is on the lower end, or lower than you’d like it to be, it’s highly possible that somewhere along your journey, you received the message that you weren’t good enough.
And you know what?
That’s actually pretty normal! Most people don’t feel good enough about who they are in some way. Let’s look more closely at what’s behind this.
Where Does Not Good Enough Come From?
So, what’s behind our less-than-stellar sense of self? Why do we feel like we’re not enough?
When we were children, we were completely helpless. To survive (be nourished, loved and protected), we were dependent on the adults around us.
If the environment we grew up in was unsafe, unpredictable, highly dysfunctional or even abusive or dangerous, then we probably experienced trauma or other situations that left our self-esteem treasure chest pretty empty.
That makes sense.
However, it’s not that simple. Psychology Today defines trauma as “a person’s emotional response to a distressing experience”.
Experiencing war, a natural disaster or sexual abuse is traumatic, but other less life-threatening experiences, like divorce, or the loss of a pet or loved one, can be highly distressing to a child.
Even in the same family, four different children will have four different experiences in the event of a divorce. Why? Because each child is unique and perceives events differently.
The point here is that we all come through childhood with some level of trauma because most of us, as children, had one or more “emotional responses to a distressing experience”.
Note: I’m not trying to diminish the extreme events that happen to people, which are obviously traumatic in a life-changing way; I only wish to illustrate that there’s a continuum of emotional responses to distressing experiences.
You might have perceived a divorce or a move from a small town to a big city as highly distressing, and your siblings did not.
You may have experienced trauma on some level in your past and not even realize it or even be aware it’s impacting your emotions and happiness today.
I’m not saying every child has experienced trauma, but if we stick to Psychology Today’s general definition, then it’s possible that many of us have experienced trauma when we were kids.
So, trauma possibly contributing to low self-esteem is the first part of the answer to the question, “Why do I feel like I’m not good enough?”
The second part of the quest to find out why you might not feel like you are enough, is related to something every person remembers: being a child in an adult world.
When you’re a child, you interpret the cues in your world, so you can figure out how to survive. Your survival is based on your need for the adults in your life to take care of you.
That is your mission in life: to be loved, cared for, nourished and safe.
But what happens if the adults around you expect you to speak and act differently than who you really are?
What happens when you’re told to stop talking when the adults are speaking, or you’re told that you talk too loudly or too softly? What happens if that’s the message you hear repeatedly, for years?
Do you think a child might interpret those reactions from adults as a message that they don’t have the right to speak up, or that the way they speak is not good enough?
If that was you, then you might start to look at yourself as not being good enough. You talk too loudly (change who you are and be quieter). You talk too softly (speak up; no one can hear you).
A child might start holding back their thoughts, or they might constantly worry about what will happen when they do speak. Is it worth the risk of saying what’s on their mind? Will they get into trouble?
Getting in trouble might mean criticism, angry parents or punishment, which threatens the child’s source of love and caring, and possibly even more (go to bed without dinner, no contact with friends for a week, etc.).
So, what happens over time with such repeated, not good enough messages?
The child learns if they speak and behave in a way their parents approve, then the adults are happy. Love and caring will be available. (Actually, that’s not always the case. Many adults will tell you that all they wanted was to feel loved as a child. They tried and tried, but to no avail.)
Children spend years trying to just be and to experience their world in their own unique way, while also trying to mold themselves into an image their parents accept or even admire.
The main programming children receive is from their parents. Society, and in particular, the school system, however, also impact the programming of a child. (Oh boy, as a retired teacher, don’t get me started on the school system!).
As children, we were taught how to behave in schools, and we were also taught whether we were good enough or not. Schools reward uniformity (everyone following the rules), and they also reward academic success (the core skills: reading, writing and math).
Think back to your first school experiences. You were probably excited when you saw a pre-school or Kindergarten room with places to paint and corners to play in the sand.
As you moved through the fun elementary years (creativity, play, social interaction, experimentation), you quickly became aware that once you passed into the older grades, test scores and marks were what counted, not how many different ways you could build a tower with paper towel tubes and glue.
Your parents and your teachers showered you with praise if you were getting A’s and behaving like everyone else.
After about ten years of following everyone else’s rules and expectations, kids (ya, that was you once, remember?) enter their teen years feeling discombobulated.
No wonder kids experience identity crises as they step into their teens!
Adolescents usually question, and often rebel against, parental/school/societal rules and expectations because they’re trying to become their own person instead of the version of a person everyone else wants them to be.
I remember that feeling as a rebellious teenager.
Preteens and teens are trying to figure out who they really are after years of programming. (Head’s up: most of us didn’t really figure it out as teenagers, no matter how many rebellious things we did. As maturing adults, we’re still trying to get a handle on who we are…hence, a need for this post).
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be any programming at all during our childhood; we do need to have laws and ways of doing things for society to function, and there are cultural expectations to learn as well (although that is debatable…sorry, don’t get me started on cultural and religious programming either).
Can you see how growing up in a world where we’re not accepted as ourselves (some people experience this in more distressing ways than others), we might feel like we’re not good enough as we are?
- Not good enough, unless we talk and behave like those around us?
- Not good enough unless we’re accepted by our family, peers or colleagues?
- Not good enough unless we wear the right clothes, drive the right car, or live in the right neighborhood?
- Not good enough unless we have the same religious or political beliefs as our friends?
- Not good enough unless we fit in?
If we become sheep, following along with what everyone else says or does, or what everyone around us expects, then we’ve forgotten the tiny lamb we once were, who loved to be spontaneous, jump around and get into all sorts of trouble.
How Not Good Enough can Hold you Back
If we grow up not feeling good enough, and not feeling awesome in our own skin and being our own unique person, we’ve likely changed who we really are (and don’t even know it!).
We’ve probably lost a lot of who we are and are desperate to fill our soul with the feel-good vibes of living our life in alignment with our beliefs, values and desires.
As you get older, you might find yourself completely unaware of any of your passions, purposes, desires or interests.
If that’s the case, you’ve been living a life programmed by society, and you may not have had a chance to jump off the gerbil wheel and take a look at your life and who you really are (or who you really want to be).
Are you happy?
Deep in your soul?
Feeling you’re not good enough might be holding you back.
Once we look back on our childhood and other life experiences, we might realize how our thinking is holding us back. We might spend time looking at people and situations from our past too.
Before we talk about how your life could look if you thought you were good enough, it’s important to address a mistake many people make when they look to the past for explanations of who they are today.
We might blame others and resent certain people for how they handled situations (Believe me, I wish I could turn back the clock as a parent and a teacher).
Don’t waste your energy blaming others. We can’t change the past, and there’s no point in dwelling on the past or being angry about it.
Go ahead and get angry for 5 or 10 minutes. Vent, or journal, and get it out. Short-term release. (Read The Miracle Equation by Hal Elrod to learn more about how the phrase, “Can’t Change It”, can help you).
For the long term, though, there is NO point in spending any energy blaming others for your circumstances or unhappiness today.
Holding anger in your body is not only harmful, but refusing to let go of your anger means you constantly have negative energy flowing inside you, which does NOTHING to help you move forward.
It keeps you STUCK.
Holding on to anger can become a familiar comfort blanket, and blaming others from your past can become an excuse to not take responsibility for your own life.
Latching onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to be harmed (the person you’re angry at).
You can’t go back in time and change things, so what’s the point of living in the past and being miserable?
So many CONS to blaming, right?
Understanding your programming, your traumas and your childhood experiences can help you see why you feel you’re not good enough, but clinging to your past just cements the feeling of not being good enough, making it last and last.
A new perspective, and the future, hold the key to you feeling MORE than good enough.
What could Happen if you DID Feel Good Enough?
Oh my gosh.
Imagine the life you’d be living if you felt you were MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH…if you thought YOU WERE AWESOME?
Let’s take a peek.
Believe it or not, you can be grateful knowing you’re “not good enough” is holding you back.
If you know your issue…
- You KNOW where to start.
- You CAN move forward and begin to heal and learn that, DAMN IT, you are plenty good enough.
- You CAN learn to be yourself and be proud of your uniqueness!
When you begin to see the glimmer inside you, and you fan that flame until you’re able to look in the mirror and say, “I love you, and I’m awesome just being me”, the EASIER it will get to rely on your inner strength (yes, you have this!) when things get tough.
When you feel MORE than enough and are truly proud of who you are, you’ll be able to conquer the world.
There’s no one right answer as to how to move from not good enough to more than enough. By reading this post all the way to the end though, you know you’ve got what it takes.
You CAN find a way, one step at a time.
Learn more about you by reading personal development or self-help books (or listening to them), finding like-minded people who want to grow, taking courses and possibly hiring a coach or therapist to provide you with support or guidance.
Try journaling (on paper or using a voice app), to make your own discoveries and to find the part of you that may have been lost. Who knows where your journey will lead?
A great way to start noticing your unique awesomeness is to keep an accomplishment journal. Inside, record all the little things you are doing and accomplishing. You’d be surprised how much you do.
Use your own notebook, or if you prefer inspiration, structure and guidance, check out the Accomplishment Journal.
All you need is a willingness to learn and to do the inner work, as well as time, practice and patience, and you can turn your NOT good enough into MORE than good enough.
As you move on with the rest of your day, think about your level of confidence in different situations and try to dig down until you find the esteem issue. What are you not valuing about yourself?
When you notice any thoughts around not good enough, turn them around with a new thought: I am good enough. I am more than enough. I am exactly who I should be.…and so on.
Changing your thoughts could be the first step toward feeling good enough, so you can learn to proudly accept and love who you are.
You really are a beautiful soul who CAN just be you.
Live your true life,