Some people grow up in very critical or difficult families.
Because of their early experiences they can come to feel that there is something wrong with them or that they are not good enough.
Even though they are now grown up and their childhood is far away, they may still feel there is something wrong with them or they are not good enough.
They may always be looking for approval, they can be very sensitive to the criticism of others (or feel criticised on the inside), they feel bad about themselves or they might even hate themselves.
These thoughts and feelings cause them much emotional suffering and lead them to struggle in their lives, relationships and work.
You may know instantly if you don’t feel good enough.
However, it can be surprising to realise just how many people are so used to the way that they think and feel that they rarely give their suffering a second thought.
So, you might be thinking “How would I know I don’t feel good enough?”
Even though ‘not feeling good enough’ isn’t a medical condition, there are ‘symptoms’: signs that let you know this is going on.
Some Of The Symptoms Of Not Feeling Good Enough
Here is a list of sentences that describe some of the inner experiences of people who don’t feel good enough.
If you read them and think or feel “Wow, that’s me!” then you have identified an aspect of feeling not good enough that may be causing you unnecessary suffering.
- “I am very sensitive to shame”
- “I experienced a lot of criticism as a child and am still feeling criticised now”
- “I look OK on the outside, but I am really struggling on the inside”
- “I always try to keep everyone else happy”
- “I am terrified of disapproval”
- “I think something is wrong with me”
- “Sometimes, I am only pretending to be a grown up”
- “If people really knew me they wouldn’t like me”
- “I need the approval of others”
- “When someone says they like me I find it hard to believe (or even scary)”
- “I feel like there is part of me that is unloved and unlovable”
- “I am always trying to work out what is the right thing to do, so as not to upset anyone”
- “I can be sympathetic and understanding to anyone except myself”
- “I feel like I don’t deserve anything good”
- “I hate myself”
How do we learn to be not good enough?
Nobody is born not good enough!
Nobody is born giving themselves a hard time!
Nobody is born hating themselves!
These are all things you have to learn (or be taught).
As children we are all very vulnerable. We can’t look after ourselves, we are desperate to be loved, valued and protected.
If we are loved, valued and protected we will thrive.
If those qualities are in short supply, we have no choice, we have to learn quickly and work hard to get what we need even if there is very little of it available.
Learning those lessons can be very hard.
Abuse, neglect, criticism or the withholding of love are all deeply painful. In such situations, as children, we will find ways to get what little we can from those situations even if they are just crumbs.
Even if we grow up in loving homes we might still get the idea that there is something wrong with us or bad about us. You don’t have to be beaten up or starved to feel not good enough.
Because we only have our own experience to go on, we accept our situation without question. Our childhood experiences and how they made us feel is just the natural order of things even if it bends us out of shape.
The things we learn to think, feel and do are all designed to get us what we need. Unfortunately, when we grow older and move away from our childhood the thoughts, feelings and behaviour we learned there come with us, whether we need them or not, it’s as if that way of being in the world is written into our bones.
Eventually we might realise that something is wrong. Other people seem to be happier, more confident, less anxious or afraid than we are and we might look for ways to feel better.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to talk ourselves out of not being good enough.
When we read self help books we might be inspired but nothing seems to change.
Talking about our problems may just make us feel worse.
We might understand what went wrong but that doesn’t seem to help us change who we are and how we feel.
If time hasn’t already healed what is troubling you, then more time is probably not going to heal it either.
The way our brains and minds work mean that our childhood experience will affect us for years to come. Our old emotional patterns will repeat themselves time after time. Our inner critics will never tire and shame never seems to go away.
That’s not your fault. That’s just what brains and minds do.
You could try to soothe the symptoms. Using medication, eating, drinking, shopping and all the other soothing possibilities we have. Perhaps if you soothe the symptoms they will go away, but they always come back when the soothing wears off.
You could try to avoid the problem. By avoiding the situations in which it occurs or distracting yourself from it. If you don’t think about it perhaps it will go away, but when you think about it there it is.
To reduce that suffering you must undo the way your mind and brain creates those problems or they will continue.
One of the ways of doing that is to use Identity Healing