Do You Have “Not Good Enough” Syndrome?

During the pandemic, we have so much time to sit and be. So much time to sit and be with ourselves, our thoughts and our feelings. We can try to ignore or drown out this noise by throwing ourselves into work, binge-watching TV or endlessly scrolling on TikTok but those fleeting moments of distraction won’t take away the unsettledness sitting at the bottom of our stomachs.

So when the time comes that you do have a second to just be in silence, what comes up?

What comes up for you when you aren’t distracted?

Do you find yourself looking around and wondering why your life isn’t better? Or do you find yourself daydreaming of a brighter future where all of your current-day problems don’t exist?

It’s common for many of us to be unhappy with where we are today. We wish we had a glamorous job, a perfect partner, a more sculpted body, a bigger apartment, or just generally a better life.

You wake up in the morning and wonder when your big change or big shift is going to happen. Maybe today will be the day where all those feelings and thoughts will suddenly go away and all will be well.

Then as your day continues, the cousins and sisters and brothers of “not good enough” start popping up.

“Why haven’t you been able to find a partner yet? You’re about to be 30!”

“You could’ve done better on that presentation.”

“You look so tired. You should put on more makeup today.”

“…there’s another friend who’s more accomplished than you. You need to do more!”

When I was younger, I never understood the saying that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” As a young 7 year old, I just thought “well if something is beautiful then wouldn’t everyone be able to see it’s beauty?”

The truth is no. Not everyone can see or acknowledge beauty when it’s standing right in front of them. Two people can be gifted the same present and one will be so grateful to have received a gift and the other will be frustrated that the gift isn’t what he/she wanted.

Your attitude and perception of your life is more important than anything else. How you choose to look at your life is the difference between you being happy and you feeling like you’re going nowhere.

“Not good enough” syndrome is when you find yourself feeling “not good enough” across many parts of your life. Whether it’s about how you look, how you act, how you work, where you work, what you do, how you identify, where you are, etc. “Not good enough” syndrome doesn’t need to manifest in the words “not good enough” but more so the general feeling of not being happy or satisfied with something.

But you might be thinking “well isn’t it ok to be dissatisfied or unhappy with some things in my life because that leads to growth and positive change?” Yes! But the important distinction is that you recognize it as an opportunity for growth or change, and start moving towards that shift vs complaining every day about your current circumstance.

“Not good enough” syndrome is when you feel unhappy or dissatisfied with an area of your life, but instead of deciding to change your perception of it, you continue to repeat the same negative/inner critic thoughts and continue to feel that same feeling of disappointment. “Not good enough” syndrome is when you’re aware of the problem, but decide to do nothing about it.

So what can I do to stop feeling “not good enough”

Step 1: Awareness

  • Recognize which areas of your life you struggle with feeling “not good enough” (e.g. Job, Finances, Relationships, Community, Achievements, Health)
  • Write down these areas and write down your feelings. Don’t hold back. Just write whatever comes to mind.

Example: “I struggle with feeling behind in life. All of my friends have successful careers and are making alot of money. I don’t know what I want to do and I don’t know where to begin. I feel like a failure because I’m not where I thought I was going to be. And everyone I know is also in a relationship! I feel more alone than ever.”

Step 2: Acceptance

  • Accept that this is where you are today. Accept it with kindness and compassion (don’t judge or blame yourself).

A note for you: We are all going through life in a unique way. Each person has a unique and different journey. It’s easy to look around and feel like you aren’t doing or being enough. You just being you is enough. You have done the best you can up until now and that’s a beautiful thing.

Step 3: Forgiveness

  • Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for any past actions, thoughts or feelings that don’t feel in alignment with who you want to be.
  • Take the time to say out loud “I forgive myself. I am doing the best I can.”

A critical part of acceptance (step 2) is also forgiveness. I found this to be really helpful in my journey to becoming a “new me.” We often walk around with this weight of guilt that sounds like “I am the problem” or “What’s wrong with me?” or “I should be doing better.” Let yourself off the hook and forgive yourself. As was said in step 2, you are doing the best you can and that’s enough.

Step 4: Action

  • Take notice of the thoughts that make you feel “less than,” not good enough or generally just bad. Write down the thoughts that come up most often (this can build on the list you put together in step 1)
  • Use the list from step 1 (Awareness) to create the “ideal” version (In an ideal world, how would you feel about the areas in life that you currently struggle with? What kinds of thoughts would you think?). Take the time to write down how you’d want to feel and what kinds of positive thoughts you’d have.
  • Keep the “ideal” list handy throughout your day and try to catch yourself when you think a negative thought. When you do, say out loud “stop!” and then choose to think the positive version of that same thought.

Example (using the paragraph from step 1):

  • Bad-feeling thoughts: I’m behind in life, I’m a failure, I don’t know where to begin, and I feel more alone than ever.
  • Ideal: I am exactly where I need to be. I may not have everything figured out in this moment but I know I am capable of making progress. I can begin writing down my interests/passions/moments when I’m happy and see if there are any jobs that align with them. I can start talking to friends or family or coworkers to learn more about what jobs are out there and the different career paths that exist. It’s ok to feel lonely. But I know that I can try to make new friends or be more proactive in staying connected with people I already know.
  • How would the ideal version of me feel? Happy. Connected. Excited. Curious. Open-minded. Eager. Hopeful. (try to cultivate and create these feelings).

Will this actually help?

Did you know that 95% of our thoughts are repetitive and 80% of our thoughts are negative?

Can you imagine how much opportunity and possibility there is to make a difference to shift how you feel on a day-to-day basis by even changing 20% of your thoughts?

Your thoughts are controlling your reality. A thought is merely a thought. A thought is not the truth nor is it a fact.

Many of us believe (subconsciously) that if we think a thought then it MUST be true. If I believe that I’m a failure then I must be a failure. We don’t take the extra second to pause and question our thoughts.

The next time a negative thought comes up, take a moment to pause and ask yourself “is this true?” I know several people who believe they’re behind in life (including myself at times) or a failure because they don’t have the perfect life. But if you look at their life, they have many things that others would be incredibly grateful and happy with. They have a lucrative job, live in one of the most sought-after cities, have a good community of friends and are young and healthy.

To others, they seem to have it all but if you ask them how they feel, they’ll tell you that they feel like what they have is not enough.

We live in a world where it’s easy to constantly be chasing the next high.

I was (and sometimes still am) one of these people. I’ve been raised to always want more. And I don’t mean raised because of my parents, I mean raised because of our society and what is shown to be the pinnacle of success.

We’re told from a very young age that being rich and accomplished is the ultimate goal. And from a young age, we’re told about “the plan”. The life plan to get good grades, go to a good college, get a good job, save money, find your life partner, marry that partner, start a family and so on.

But what if your journey looks different from the plan? What if you’re a few steps behind? What if you have some steps that aren’t even on the plan?

My hope with this post is to let you know that all is well. You are doing great. You are exactly where you are meant to be.

You have the power to be happy with where you are. You have the power to change how you’re looking at your life.

I urge you to reimagine how you define success. We have to let go of the “should’s” in life.

You are enough just as you are. Your life is beautiful and fruitful just as it is. Decide today to look and think about it differently.

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