by Andrea M. Darcy
Tried positive thinking and affirmations? Read all the advice about self-confidence?
But deep down still are left feeling not good enough?
I feel like a failure
Low self-worth often stems from very deep-rooted issues. This becomes clear looking at the common reasons for not feeling good enough.
[Want to talk to someone about your secret beliefs you are not good enough? Book an online therapy session with a therapist you like, be talking as soon as tomorrow.]
7 Reasons For Feeling Not Good Enough
1.You have hidden core beliefs that are running the show.
The thoughts we actually hear in our heads are far less powerful than those that lurk in our unconscious. Low self worth is inevitably connected to the buried and hidden assumptions about the world, others, and ourselves that we mistake as fact.
These ‘core beliefs‘ are often formed when we were children, with a child’s simple perspective. So they can be surprisingly dramatic and untrue. And yet we unwittingly base all our life decisions around them.
For example, a child with a parent who suddenly leaves one day without offering a reason is not evolved to understand an adult having a mental breakdown, or running off for space after a fight. In the child’s mind, the core belief ‘if you love someone they leave you’ takes hold. Even if the parent comes back a few days later the belief sticks, and the child grows into an adult who never lets anyone close.
2. If you listen deeply, your inner voice is actually critical and judgemental.
It is easy is to convince ourselves we are ‘positive thinkers’.
And yet many of us don’t actually take the time to properly listen to our thoughts. If we do, we might discover it’s a radio show of negativity.
Mindfulness is a wonderful technique for slowing down enough to hear your thoughts clearly. It is about listening and letting go to thoughts without judgement. Learn more in our free ‘Guide to Mindfulness’.
3. You surround yourself with critical people.
Of course some of us don’t even need negative thoughts to ensure we always feel not good enough. We let other people do the job for us by consciously choosing toxic friendships and unhealthy relationships.Then others put us down no matter how hard we try.
4. You had critical, demanding, or aloof parent(s) that left you feeling not good enough.
Yes, perhaps you had a ‘good childhood’. You lived in a nice house, your parents never divorced. You never wanted for anything.
But then again, perhaps you did. Perhaps you wanted for the approval and love that every child needs.
If your parent(s) always wanted you to smarter, or quieter, or sportier, or if they favoured your sibling….? Whatever it was, the message was that you were not enough as is. It might have just been that your parent was not good at loving due to their own unresolved issues.
As children we naturally seek approval and love. So we learn to suffocate our real personality and become the ‘good’ child, at the price of turning into an adult who never feels a sense of worth.
5. You main caregiver couldn’t offer you stability or safety.
Some children have a parent who is simply unable to offer them an environment of safety where they can trust their parent to be there for them. Perhaps you parent was an alcoholic, suffered depression, or was in a toxic relationship that demanded all their attention.
If a parent is unwell the child can feel responsible for the parent’s happiness. If only you acted a certain way, did certain things, were somehow a better/smarter child your parent would be ok. But of course a child can’t fix such a parent or situation. So their endless codependency evolves into a belief they are not good enough somehow.
6. You didn’t get enough ‘attachment’ as a kid.
What both these points about parenting involve is not having a caregiver who was able to offer unconditional love and trust, or what is called ‘attachment’ in psychology.
Attachment theory believes that for the first seven years of life a child absolutely needs unconditional love and to be able to trust his or her primary caregiver. If this doesn’t happen, we can end up with ‘anxious attachment’, which involves never trusting yourself or others and lacking confidence.
7. You experienced strong trauma(s) in the past.
Of course one way to develop negative core beliefs quickly as a child does not necessarily involve poor parenting.
Childhood trauma decimates a child’s sense of worth.
Most children feel responsible for the trauma, particularly if it is physical abuse or sexual abuse. They internalise the idea they are bad and worthless, so deserved it.
So is feeling not good enough always all about the past?
It is inevitable that the environments and experiences of our childhood affected us. Of course there are other factors. Some of us born with a naturally more sensitive personality, for example, so suffer more.
And sometimes it is a marked trauma as an adult that leaves us not feeling good enough, such as a betrayal. Even then, though, we will find our confidence an self-worth suffers more, and we take longer to recuperate, if we had previous trauma in our early life or poor parenting.
What sorts of therapy help?
If trawling through your past just isn’t your thing, take heart. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is shown to raise self-esteem, and it does so by focusing on your present day issues and changing the way you respond to thoughts.
And humanistic therapies like person-centred therapy can help your confidence by showing you the personal resources you already have, and helping you grow these inner resources and use them to make better choices. Or try compassion-focused therapy (CFT), which teaches you how to be more gentle with yourself and others.
Want help to overcome not feeling enough in life? Harley Therapy connects you with some of the best private psychologists and psychotherapists working in central London. Not in London or even the UK? Find a quality online therapists on the Harley Therapy Platform.
Andrea M. Darcy is a mental health and wellbeing expert and personal development teacher with training in person-centred counselling and coaching, as well as a popular psychology writer. Follow her on Instagram for useful life tips @am_darcy