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  • Brooke Aymes

How Not Feeling Good Enough Impacts Our Lives

Where Does Feeling Not Good Enough Come From?

Struggling to feel good enough in various aspects of our lives comes from inheriting the negative core belief that we are not good enough. We all have core beliefs about ourselves and some are adaptive and some are maladaptive.

the backs of a boy with a blue backpack and a girl with a pink backpack struggling with not being good enough on the way to school

Negative core beliefs are deep-rooted in past negative experiences and usually come from

adverse childhood experiences. These negative experiences and childhood traumas have impacted us so much so that they ingrain themselves into our thinking patterns. For example, maybe our parents set really high expectations for us as a child and we felt that nothing that we could do was good enough for them or maybe they compared us to a successful sibling and we felt that we could not measure up or maybe kids in school or a crappy boyfriend called us names like, ‘stupid’ and now we have come to believe that we are not intelligent enough.

Once we have developed this negative core belief, it is continued to be reinforced throughout our life span because we continue to seek out experiences that continue to justify it and continue to disregard experiences that contradict it. The negative core belief will go on to have us feeling inadequate in most areas of our lives.

Feeling Not Good Enough Looks Like Perfectionism

The negative core belief of not feeling good enough can often disguise itself within perfectionism. On the outside, we look put together and successful. Our house is always tidy, our kids are always clean and we have a booming career. However, on the inside we are running on this hamster wheel desperately trying to keep everything in tact while completing all of the tasks and planning for the next thing.

A woman with brown hair learning from a woman with blonde hair about their job. The lady with the brown hair looks nervous due to perfectionism.

Our thinking says that if we can be perfect than we might prove to ourselves that we are good enough. This issue with this is that we are usually ridded with anxiety trying to achieve the unrealistic expectation of perfection. We end up more exhausted, much less present in the moment and even less efficient with our time as a result.

Feeling Not Good Enough Impacts Finances

The negative core belief of not feeling good enough can affect how successful we become. When we struggle with the core belief of not feeling good enough and genuinely feel not good enough, we are less likely to advocate for ourselves, less likely to negotiate our income with an employer and less likely to apply for more challenging, higher paying positions.

A group of women both older and younger discussing how money is affected by not feeling good enough in the workplace.

We may have a tendency to over spend due to our thinking telling us that if we achieve some sort of social status, than we will feel good enough. However, this usually backfires and keeps us stuck in the same financial situation that will continue to justify how we are not good enough. For example, maybe we buy a pair of yeezys when we cannot actually afford them and then have difficulty paying our bills as a result.

Feeling Not Good Enough Impacts Mental Health

The negative core belief of not feeling good enough can increase our anxiety and depressive symptoms. When we think and feel inadequate, it ultimately affects our behaviors which can increase uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.

We may have increased anxiety as a result of constantly running on the hamster wheel desperately attempting to race the clock to be the most efficient. We could have increased anxiety as a result of trying to control everything out of fear that if we cannot control everything maybe people will actually see that we are not good enough. We might run around trying to people please and save others from their hardships to prove to ourselves that we are good enough. These behaviors come from not feeling good enough and can increase our anxiety.

These behaviors and other ones similar to them can also increase feelings of depression because we will not always be successful in our attempts to feel good enough. When we are not successful that can exacerbate negative thoughts and feelings about ourself.

Feeling Not Good Enough Looks Like Procrastination

The negative core belief of not feeling good enough can illustrate itself through procrastination tendencies. Many times when we feel unmotivated and feel like we are procrastinating we associate that with being lazy, however many times it is quite the opposite.

We may procrastinate due to feeling overwhelmed with anxiety by the thought of trying to do things perfectly. Then we procrastinate and increase our negative thoughts and feelings about ourself as a result of procrastinating. This pattern of thoughts and behaviors often leads to depressive episodes.

Feeling Not Good Enough Can Lead To Substance Use

The negative core belief of not feeling good enough can lead to substance abuse. We mentioned earlier that negative core beliefs are developed in childhood and therefore can be difficult to become aware of because we look for ways to cope and to survive before we are able to articulate how we are feeling.

A black woman and a tan woman drinking martinis to suppress not feeling good enough, perfectionism and anxious thoughts.

If and when we experiment with substances in teenage years or in early adulthood we find that substances help us to cope with what we are feeling without necessarily understanding why. We become more drawn to them as a result which can lead to years of unhealthy substance abuse.

What We Can Do About It

The good news is that we can change our thinking patterns. It will take time and it will be challenging, however it can absolutely be done. We can continue to work on our core beliefs about ourselves to change our thinking patterns and to change the way that we feel about ourselves to improve the quality of our lives and our relationships.

The most beneficial way to do this is to speak with a licensed therapist about beginning the process of therapy. There are several forms of therapy that can be helpful to change our negative core beliefs about ourselves, however the form of therapy that focuses mainly on changing our thoughts, feelings and behaviors is cognitive behavioral (CBT) therapy.

With the help of a licensed professional we can change the lens that we are looking through and be able to begin seeing things for what they are rather than through the lens of not being good enough.


Brooke Aymes sitting and smiling on Mt. Minsi at the Delaware Water Gap

Hey, I'm Brooke! I'm a licensed anxiety and addiction therapist serving individuals,

adolescents and couples in the state of New Jersey. My experience brings both a personal and professional perspective to the work that I do with my clients. If you are struggling with relationships and would like to schedule a free consultation, I would love to chat with you!

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