“We’re just ordinary people, we don’t know which way to go,” goes the song. Being ordinary people, none of us is perfect. Even the best among us experiences failure and setbacks in one area or another, and that includes our areas of giftedness. Not feeling good enough can flow from our circumstances or from much deeper sources. You might feel you aren’t good enough immediately after suffering a setback such as failing an exam, dropping a pass, being rejected, and losing a loved one, being fired from a job or failing a job interview, being cut from the team, and so on.In other circumstances, you might not feel good enough because your looks, intelligence, character, or other intrinsic quality about yourself has been questioned until you began looking down on yourself. Sometimes, people such as friends, parents, or caregivers have been verbally or emotionally abusive, and that wore on your soul, eroding your self-confidence.
In other situations, experiences in romantic relationships where abuse takes place may also leave a person feeling less than good enough. Or it may be the case that you don’t have a chorus of voices in your corner encouraging you and spurring you on to get the most out of life.
Whatever inherent value and dignity you possess, you may have begun doubting it and questioning yourself. When you’re in that place, it’s hard to feel valuable or feel good enough, and you walk around in life with a cloud hanging over you, which can affect your mental and emotional health.
Overcoming not feeling good enough
Seeing value in yourself and setting aside feelings of guilt and shame doesn’t happen overnight. For some, it’s a journey they remain on for the rest of their lives as they increasingly grow to accept themselves and begin seeing their self-worth. But every journey begins with those first few steps, however tentative. Below are a few ways you can begin dealing with and overcoming not feeling good enough.
One of the first steps towards self confidence is acceptance. Self-acceptance is about seeing yourself for what you are, noticing your good and imperfect qualities, and accepting yourself. It’s easy for us to accept the positive aspects of ourselves, the things we and others celebrate, but it’s quite difficult to look into our hearts and acknowledge and accept the things we prefer weren’t a part of us.
These things may be aspects of our physical appearance, certain quirks in our personality, parts of our history that we are deeply ashamed of, habits we have, decisions and choices we have made, or the circumstances that we find ourselves in. When you see yourself for who you are right now, flaws and all, and accept yourself, you are acknowledging the reality of your situation and owning it for what it is.
It doesn’t mean that you approve of these things or that those things are okay, but you’re owning that this is who you are and where you’re at. It is a necessary first step toward self-love and beginning to move toward changing those things about yourself that you don’t appreciate.
You’re not alone.
When you experience failure or go through something that leaves you feeling isolated, that feeling can be overwhelming. It is also misleading because it’s more than just you who may be struggling with not feeling good enough.
A good example and manifestation of this is imposter syndrome, a situation in which people who on the face of it are highly competent with many accomplishments, secretly fear that they are not good enough and don’t deserve to occupy the position they are in or be recognized for their accomplishments.
They are driven by a fear that they will be discovered for the “fraud” they feel they are, and they live tormented by not feeling good enough, constantly doubting their skills and talents. For one thing, our perceptions of ourselves and the situations we find ourselves in aren’t always accurate, so we need to pay attention to the evidence and those around us that we trust to give us honest feedback.
We also need to remember that though our story is unique, there are other people out there who have gone through similar things. The reality of this is borne out in group therapy sessions, where people (around 5-15) facing similar issues gather regularly.
Led by one or two trained therapists, they work through the issue together. Though the stories aren’t identical, human experience is such that you’re never truly alone in what you’ve gone through. You’re not alone, and you don’t have to struggle alone.
You’re usually your worst critic.
We often don’t feel good enough because we internalize and at times amplify the criticisms we’ve been subjected to by influential people in our early years of development. Their words, which made us feel like we could never do enough, never measure up, never be enough, echo long into adulthood.
You need to let that go and begin to see yourself objectively. We often speak to ourselves in ways we would not with other people, and so speaking to yourself kindly through positive self-talk and encouragement will go a long way toward turning that ship around.
When you’ve done an excellent job, accept and acknowledge it and take a moment to celebrate your successes. If something hasn’t gone right, encourage yourself to keep moving forward and learn from the experience in preparation for what comes next.
Forgive yourself and others.
When we fail, or when someone does something to us, we can hold onto the pain for longer than we need to. You may feel you’re not good enough because you messed up, or because something terrible happened to you. But you need to let it go and forgive whoever offended or hurt you.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what happened was okay, but it allows you to let go of the negative feelings toward other people that you may still be holding onto. By letting go of your resentment and other negative feelings, you can start over again on a clean slate without the baggage from previous experiences. We can’t change the past, and forgiveness is one of the few ways for us to deal with what happened and position ourselves to move beyond it.
You are loved.
Lastly, knowing that we are loved unconditionally, coupled with our self-acceptance, helps us to move beyond not feeling good enough. We may feel guilt, shame, and internalize these and other feelings, which are heavy burdens to bear.
Jesus urges believers and any who choose to, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).
We don’t have to carry the burden of not feeling good enough. We are loved just as we are because God saves broken and fallen people. The perfect love with which God loves us casts out fear – fear of not being good enough; fear of rejection; fear of failure. God loves us and demonstrated this by coming into the world and seeking us out when we weren’t even looking to be rescued (Romans 5:8). Tell yourself this truth and remind yourself of it often.
Not feeling good enough can affect your mental and emotional health, often barring you from taking up new opportunities and stepping into life with confidence. Those feelings are real, but you don’t have to live with them. There are other, bigger realities that you can lean into, and these can help you not only begin accepting yourself but loving and enjoying who God made you to be.
That journey isn’t a short or easy one and going on that journey with others who are trusted is a great way to begin. Finding a group or investigating individual therapy is one way you can begin your journey toward self-acceptance and love, and to relinquishing living in guilt or fear. That journey can begin right now.
“Dejected”, Courtesy of Johnny Cohen, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pushing Uphill”, Courtesy of Schaferle, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Believe in Yourself”, Courtesy of geralt, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Blue Tie”, Courtesy of Tumisu, Pixabay.com, CC0 License
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