Asking yourself "Why do I never feel good enough?" gives you that heavy feeling, like you'll never be good enough to get where you want to go.
It makes you feel less than everyone else, less than you hoped to be, less than you think you need to be.
Feeling like you'll never be good enough is all it takes to limit your confidence and stop you from being seen.
There are some very good, very big reasons this feeling bubbles up sometimes. Here are three of them.
1. You feel like you don't belong
Does it sometimes feel like you're on the outside, looking in? Do you get the sense that other people belong more than you do? And does it sometimes feel like people pay lip service to you, when really they don't want you around?
As a human being, you’re hardwired to seek connections with others and programmed to clump together in groups. Which is wonderful, because we're stronger together and we thrive when we support each other.
That's what belonging is. That warm place where you won't be rejected. That place of acceptance, where you're already enough, and you don't have to prove anything.
It's also a place you only really step into when you show up and let yourself be seen, because real belonging isn't pretence and can't be feigned.
Which is why fitting in is such a convenient replacement.
Fitting in is a means of getting some of that same acceptance and protection from rejection, but without the risk and vulnerability of showing up as you already are.
Fitting in requires that you shape yourself to what you think will make you fit into a system or a group, whereas belonging requires that you present yourself as you already are in order to be a part of something meaningful.
There's a big difference there, and every time you pursue fitting in you make room for doubts about whether you really do belong, and whether they'd accept you if they saw the real you.
The very act of wanting to fit in sabotages your chance of belonging, and guarantees that you'll never feel good enough.
So spot that urge to fit in and be accepted, and show up as you already are instead.
2. You compare your "success" with others
We live in a media-binging, product-consuming, always-on, gotta-compete society, that's driven by the desire to push forward and succeed.
We're constantly driven to do more, have more and be more, and in the middle of that pressure and drive to make a success of yourself is the habit to compare where you are with others to try to measure how well you're doing.
Processing “success” is something that’s hardwired into us, with a 2002 study into primates showing that monkeys who were higher in the pecking order had lower baseline cortisol levels (the stress hormone), living longer and being healthier. It's also been shown that our brains use the same neuronal circuits as it does when processing numbers to calculate a comparison “score”—a quick calculation of how you think you sit in the professional and social pecking order against others.
Of course, you can only look at others from the outside, and that comparison calculation never takes into account what's on the inside. We don't know how long it took someone, the effort they expended, the sacrifices or compromises they made, or whether it even matters to them.
The act of comparison is comparing your insides to other peoples outsides. Any gap between where you are and your perception of where they are is then interpreted as them being "more than" and you being "less than".
The act of comparing your success to others is a fast-track, fool-proof way to never feel good enough.
But true success, the kind of success that resonates with you because the experience of it was inherently fulfilling, is only ever about how meaningfully engaged you are in your life or work.
True success isn't dependent on external measures like reach or likes or dollars. It's intrinsic. You feel it.
Natural confidence provides the foundation and tools to pierce through the dank fug of perceived success, and removes the perception of better than / less than by making you enough, right now, no questions.
3. You aim to live up to false expectations
There's a lot of pressure on you to get it right, to deliver, and to keep all those plates spinning. Your brain munches on all that pressure, chews it up, and spits out a bunch of expectations for what should happen if you're going to get through in one piece.
This includes things like the expectation to not get it wrong. The expectation to be seen as perfect. And the expectation to have everyone like you.
These expectations are like stories or fairy tales, telling you things like:
I can expect that if I do everything perfectly and don't screw up, then I'll be accepted and won't be judged, blamed or rejected.
All of these expectations about what you need to do and what people expect of you buzz around your head, but instead of swatting them away like fruit flies you breathe them in and make them your own.
Creating expectations about the level of performance you need to achieve in order to be accepted, valued or simply to get through unscathed, only results in self-doubt, second-guessing and feeling not good enough, because there's a clear flip-side to them...
What happens if you do get it wrong? Then obviously you didn't try hard enough, or you missed something, or you were never going to win. What happens if you're not seen as perfect? Then people will see the real you, they'll call you out and they'll know you're not as good as you profess to be. And what happens if some people don't like you? Then people will openly reject you, they'll see you as you really are, and they'll judge you for it.
Aiming to live up to false expectations about who you need to be will always have you feeling not good enough.
Instead, how about you ditch the expectations and pressure and look for ways to trust yourself and have things be easier? Look for a way to be at your best in the face of a challenge, and trust that you can adapt. Look for how you can apply your strengths or talents, and trust that those things are plenty. Look for how you can be kinder or more compassionate towards yourself, and trust that you can stretch and grow and choose.
Changing that "never feel good enough" feeling...
The aim here is to switch you from never feeling good enough to feeling good enough, as you already are. This is something that's built from three pillars:
Accepting the seeming paradox of being both a work in progress, and already whole. You have capabilities you can grow into, entirely new strengths to uncover, and possibilities to explore. And you can do that all the while knowing that you're already whole and enough.
Understanding your brains objective to keep you safe, away from the risk of uncertainty and far from the pain of being rejected. Then knowing that many of the feelings you have about not feeling good enough are constructs designed to satisfy those objectives, not truth.
Knowing that you're already deserving of love and belonging. You don't need to prove yourself to earn that, you don't need to fit in to earn that, and you don't need to achieve a certain level of success to earn that.
You're already good enough. But it takes work and practice to "get it".
Can you accept that you're already good enough, or do you struggle with never feeling good enough? Let me know in the comments.