I never feel “good enough”

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    I’m a 29-year-old female and I’m struggling with never feeling good enough. What I mean by that is I feel I could always look more attractive, be more successful, be more creative, be more social, etc…

    I don’t know how to shake this feeling? There are some things I can’t do anything about, like I can’t go back in time and change the school I got my college degree in to a more “renowned” school. My career isn’t the highest paying… I feel people may think it’s boring and I often wish I had become something impressive like a doctor. If you say you’re a doctor, many people seem to regard that highly and ask a lot of questions. They don’t do that with my Human Resources type of job.

    I wish any of my poems had gotten published, but they haven’t and I’ve kind of given up on that. I always dreamed about what it would be like to tell people a poem I wrote had gotten published in The New Yorker.

    I feel like everything I try to do ends up being average and nothing will ever be impressive in someone else’s eyes.

    This feeling has been difficult for me and I’m lucky I have a boyfriend who says I’m “great” and I am “enough,” but I don’t want him to just have a girlfriend like that.

    I want him to be with someone who has huge achievements, like: published writing, a high earning career, a highly advanced yoga practice, someone who volunteers every single week, and someone who looks amazing (and isn’t constantly trying to lose a stubborn 15-20 lbs).

    Before you say “make these into goals and work at them,” please know that I already have and maybe I need to practice more acceptance and contentment … but how?


    Dear dreaming715,

    When we look to others to tell us how good we are, we are setting ourselves for disappointment. Every single person is unique with their own individuality. There is no one else in the entire universe like you. When we live our life giving it the best that we can, then we no longer need validation from others.

    How do you feel yourself when you are possibly putting yourself down when you compare yourself to the people who have “published writing, a high earning career, a highly advanced yoga practice, someone who volunteers every single week, and someone who looks amazing”?

    Instead think how you would feel when you focused on the good that is in you. Can you feel the glow when you do that?

    The key to contentment is in the aspects of life that you have complete control over. It is in mindfulness, where every step we take we give our best.

    Best wishes for being the best “you”

    Take care




    Dear dreaming715:

    The fact that millions of people, some of them celebrities, did achieve the things you wish that you achieved and still felt not good enough is evidence that if you achieved all that you wish you did, you would still feel not good enough.

    This not good enough feeling/ core belief is born in early childhood before you were able to write a poem or apply to medical school. It was formed as a result of your early relationship with your parent/s. Got to go back there for the purpose of a thorough rational and emotional understanding of how this belief was formed, how you lost the natural good enough feeling that you did have and how to get it back.




    Hi Dear dreaming715

    There is a lot of cognitive dissonance and distortion in the stories you are telling yourself. The good news is that no drugs are required to make these distortions conscious.

    I would suggest starting a practice of mindfulness and noticing when and where you start to label yourself, positively or negatively. The task here is just to notice and not to judge and label yourself based on what you notice, which will just feed on its self.  There are allot of helpful articles on the site just google tinybudda mindfulness

    One of the tasks of individuation is coming to terms with the mother complex. The complex may touch on your experiences with your mother however is really about coming to terms with the mother archetype and taking ownership of how you nurture yourself.

    Based on your post your relationship to your “inner mother” is that as ‘the step mother’, an inner voice always telling you that you’re not good enough.  Your task is to heed the call of the hero’s journey and confront the step mother.  I recommend the book ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype’  by Clarissa Pinkola Estés as a guide

    Imagine how quite your mind might become when it no longer attaches it self to comparisons, labels, shoulds and if only’s.

    Stopping Comparisons: Reclaim Reality and Raise Your Self-Esteem


    Sorry that you’re struggling with never feeling good enough, Dreaming715. I can completely relate, having experienced it for most of my life.

    One thing I’ve learned is that you can achieve all of your goals and STILL not feel good enough. I agree with Anita on that point. Many people think that if they can accomplish x amount of things, they will finally be good enough. But it doesn’t work. Why? Because any external validation is short-lived. Once you get what you desire or approval, you’ll enjoy it for a while… until the afterglow rubs off. Then you’re back to chasing the next goal or craving more validation.

    We live in a society of “not enough”. From a young age, we learn that we should be and do xyz to be accepted and good enough. When we don’t match up to these standards, we wonder, “What’s wrong with me?” Such a conclusion is understandable because we don’t see enough people around us embracing who they are, warts and all. Even the most successful people deal with the widespread fear of rejection.

    So, what does that leave you with? You already got the solution, Dreaming715—accept who you are right now. Focus on your positive qualities. Love your “defaults”. The only reason they’re considered defaults in the first place is because you believed it when society told you so. Every “default” has a positive to it, if you look for it. Let go of society’s expectations, create reasonable standards (like “Doing my best is good enough”) and validate yourself. It can be intimidating at first, but your happiness is worth it.


    Sorry that you’re struggling with never feeling good enough, Dreaming715. I can relate, having experienced it for a part of my life.

    We do live in this society that thrives on perfection. From a young age, we learn what we should be and do x to be accepted and live a good life. When people don’t measure up to said standards, they wonder “What’s wrong with me”. This conclusion is fair since the amount of people who tell you that you’re good compared to the others who are apathetic and dispassionate is insane. Even the ones who seem “perfect” and happy deal with some sort of rejection.

    I’ll be honest, even after accepting all of my flaws, I view myself as a deviant of sorts in this society since I learned not care about what others think of me and I am usually considered the friend who does the craziest stuff. I guess you can say I went from self loathing to being shameless. But anyways, accept who you are right now. Focus on your postitive qualities. Know that you make a difference in today’s society by being a friend, being a family member, and being the person who kicks butt at work. When you hear that voice in your head who says “You’re not good enough”, remember your good qualities and push those bad thoughts away. Who cares about society’s standards? Do your own thing and validate yourself. It is hard at first to develop this new attitude but in the long run, it is definitely worth it. As Willam Ernest Henley wrote in Invictus, ” I am the master of my fate I am the captain of my soul”.


    In my case, and with other people I know with low self esteem, “perfectionism” develops into a real problem.  Because I’ve always felt inferior, I think that the only way to measure up and not be rejected, is to appear perfect to others.  I’ve never been able to accept my imperfections because its a never ending quest to achieve and prove myself.  Its a tough pattern to break out of and I’m still trapped at 65.


    Hey Dreaming 715, thanks for sharing! I can definitely relate to what you’re saying. I feel very fortunate to have a good support system and family in place, especially a girlfriend who accepts me for who I am regardless of if I do. It seems like you have good practices in mind, and I trust that you have been making plans to try to work toward your goals.

    I think the most important thing to realize is that your identity and worth are not defined by your work, income, physical shape, etc. One thing that I have been doing is every time I feel negative thoughts or internal spinning, I just write down how I feel in that exact moment and what causes me to feel that way. For example, if I’m stressed about a bad grade or performance at my job, I would write down something like “I feel stressed because I have a deadline soon and I need to do well on X.” I began to talk out loud with myself to figure out the root of my stress and unhappiness and what is contributing to the feeling.

    This isn’t a scientifically based practice, but what really spoke to me was how we often spin, stress about things, and let thoughts and shame linger in our minds. When I put those words on paper or speak them out loud, I was usually able to calm myself down and give myself perspective after thinking things through. My words and negative thoughts had less and less power over me. Talking about positive experiences and things happening in my life even in the midst of pursuing your goals and working on your weaknesses usually gave me the perspective and calm internal mood to keep going and working better.

    I would give it a shot and see how it works out. Self-love and accepting oneself is an action, and thus requires practice. So be patient with yourself along the process. I believe you and hope you realize you are good enough just as you are!


    Me too, Jim. I’m a recovering perfectionist who spent tons of time and energy perfecting her way through life. Striving for excellence has helped me create amazing relationships, produce valuable work and cultivate a postive mindset.

    However, the intention makes all the difference. When I push myself to work harder, I’ve made it a habit of asking myself, “Am I doing this task out of joy?” Notice if you’re enjoying the process of making something stellar, or if you’re feeling tense and anxious. I find that when I pay attention to my intention, it helps diminish that powerful need to perfect.

    Our need for approval handicaps us. I’ve given my inner bully—the one that says I’m never good enough no matter what—too much power. At its core, our inner critic just wants to protect us from getting hurt and rejected. That was helpful when we were kids, when we didn’t yet know how to take life’s blows.

    It’s never too late to take back your power, Jim. You can learn how to stop beating yourself up, treat yourself kindly and approve of yourself. That way, your happiness is in your hands, not outside circumstances. I’ve got a free email course that I think you’d like; check it out here.


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