Never Feeling Good Enough

Never Feeling Good Enough Leads to Low Self-Esteem

The statement, “No matter what I do, I will never be good enough,” resonates with many individuals who experience inadequacy and self-doubt. This perception can lead to a downward spiral of negative self-talk, diminished self-esteem, and a constant pursuit of unattainable perfection. However, it is crucial to recognize that the belief of never being good enough is a subjective interpretation influenced by societal standards, personal expectations, and internalized criticism. 

One factor contributing to the feeling of never being good enough is the pressure to conform to an idealized image of success and perfection. Media, family, and cultural norms dictate what is considered “good enough,” leading to constant comparisons and feelings of inadequacy.

There is a comedy in Denver called “My Son the Waiter.” The comedian says, “In Jewish Culture, the fetus isn’t viable until it graduates medical school.” Having grown up in a Jewish family, I can attest to the truth of that joke.

However, I grew up in a diverse neighborhood where most families pressured their children to strive hard at school. As a result, these kids became doctors, engineers, professors, lawyers, and more.

I did not attend medical school and never became an MD, but I became a “viable fetus” anyway. I admit I knew and understood the concept of never being good enough. I achieved my Bachelor of Arts degree but needed more. So, I went to graduate school, earned my MA in Education, and became a classroom teacher. 

Still dissatisfied with me and wanting to work in mental health, I returned to graduate school and earned another master’s Degree, this time in Clinical Social Work. I worked happily for several years but still wanted validation. I returned to graduate school again and earned a Ph.D. in Social Psychology with a major in Organization Development. 

Today, I’m 80, have a private mental health practice, write articles, and published one book. Do I feel good enough? I will let the reader draw their conclusions.

It is essential to understand that external standards are arbitrary and vary from person to person. Recognizing internal values and expectations is the first step toward finding personal fulfillment. 

It is important to beware of attempting to compensate for low self-esteem through perfectionism. It is impossible to be perfect. The more an individual aims to be perfect, the more they fail. The result is that low esteem is reinforced.

Self-compassion plays a vital role in counteracting the belief of never being good enough. Cultivating self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness, acknowledging our imperfections, and embracing our inherent worthiness. By practicing self-acceptance, we can develop a healthier relationship with ourselves, recognizing that our value is not solely dependent on external achievements or validation from others.

When considering our self-worth, we must shift our focus from external validation to intrinsic value. Acknowledging our unique strengths, talents, and qualities can help us recognize our inherent worthiness. Instead of constantly seeking validation from others, we can recognize our value as human beings. We can strive for personal growth, pursue meaningful goals, and engage in activities that bring us joy and fulfillment. By aligning our actions with our values and embracing our authentic selves, we can find purpose and contentment beyond being “good enough.”

The belief that I am not good enough is a cognitive distortion. Cognitive distortion is a term used in psychology to describe how our thoughts and perceptions can become distorted or biased. These distortions cause depression. Some common examples of cognitive distortions include overgeneralization, black-and-white thinking, and catastrophizing. We can improve our mental health and well-being by realizing these distortions and learning to challenge them.

One way that never feeling good enough manifests itself is by rejecting compliments when given. Cognitive distortion sets in when we tell ourselves, “oh well, they said that just to be nice.” Or, if they knew me, they would never offer a compliment. Or I’m just a fraud. I fooled them into thinking I deserved that compliment.

 It is necessary to redefine personal worth on one’s terms. Start by identifying and embracing your unique strengths, talents, and qualities. Celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem, and recognize the value you bring to the world.

Shift the focus from seeking validation from others to setting and pursuing meaningful goals that align with your values and passions. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, even if they don’t conform to societal expectations. Embrace your authenticity and remember that your worth is not defined by external factors but by love and respect.

Suggestion: Make a daily list of self-affirmations and read one each day. Lists of self-affirmations can also be found through a Google search.

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