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I’m not good enough.  Is that something that crosses your mind a lot?  I would bet that a majority of people who read this article suffer from I’m not good enough.  You may not even be aware of it.

I’m not good enough.  It’s a feeling that is pervasive in today’s world.  Want to know how to make this feeling worse?  Comparison.  Comparing yourself to others only makes you feel worse as you look around to see who is prettier, is in better shape, is smarter, better at sports…Okay, you get it.  Our society is a competitive one (thank you media).  Comparison can be a “good” thing–it makes you become your best, but more often than not, it leads to a “bad” thing–“I’m not good enough,” “I’ll never be like her,” etc.

That feeling of I’m not good enough can stop you from performing at a higher level, getting the love you deserve, being in a career that you love, and being treated with kindness and respect.

I’m not good enough holds you back in life.

Where did this feeling come from?  It originates from your childhood.  Parents, see, they try their hardest to raise great, happy, and healthy kids.  Only, they’re winging it most of the time.  Yep, I spoiled the surprise (or did I?).  Parents aren’t perfect.  They come prepared with their default parenting system from their parents, or they’re going to swing the other way and parent the opposite of their parents. Maybe they’ve been aided by the latest in parenting advice–but there is no perfect parent.  Sorry.  They’re all doing the best they can in that moment, but no parent gets it all right all the time.

When you are young (and very impressionable) you are given thousands of messages about your worth from your parents and other well-meaning adults.  You may not even consciously register them, but they’re there.  For instance, if you had a parent who rescued you, many children grow up thinking they can’t handle things on their own and will seek out partners who will rescue them and protect them–they aren’t good enough to do it themselves.  If you and your siblings dealt with a favorite child growing up, the siblings will more than likely grow up thinking they aren’t enough.  Somehow, in some way, they weren’t “perfect” enough for mommy/daddy’s love and affection like that special sibling was.  In a family with many girls, one prevalent dynamic is the sisters competing for the male’s (the father) attention.  If a father “plays” into this, he can create desperate feelings of inadequacy in his daughters as they compete with one another for his love and attention.  In fact, this can escalate to the daughters turning on one another in an effort to put down the others to make themselves look better.  And this leads to…I’m not enough.

I'm not good enoughPrincess Diana, according to one of my marriage and family therapy textbooks (Genograms:  Assessment and Intervention by Monica McGoldrick, Randy Gerson, and Sueli Petry), was born into a family that desperately wanted a son.  This was because if a son was born in the family, the inheritance–worth $140 million–would continue after the father passed away (think Downton Abbey).  Before Diana was born, there were already 2 daughters and a son born prior to Diana who died from his deformities at birth.  When Diana was born, her parents were so disappointed they never registered her birth.  They also never gave her a royal godparent–something all her siblings did have.  A few years later, the family had a boy, but her parents’ actions still deeply affected Diana.  Because of this experience of not being good enough, Princess Di overcompensated and created a persona of specialness, but underneath this was her deep feelings of insecurity.

I recently heard an interview of Oprah and someone else (I don’t remember who) speaking of Maya Angelou, her death, and the impact she’s made all around the world.  Oprah has said many times that Maya Angelou was like a mother figure to her and Maya acknowledged this by saying Oprah was like a daughter.  Oprah, speaking with her guest said of Maya, “She had many children like this.  They weren’t her own, but every “child” of hers felt they were special–her own special favorite.”  When you can say that about a parent–that each kid felt they were special and loved–that’s what helps cultivate the feeling of “I’m enough.”  This doesn’t mean becoming enmeshed with the kid–please spare them that!–it means knowing that you’ve done your best as a parent to instill in your child your love and support of who they are as a person.

I would say that the feeling of I’m not good enough is at an all time high.  How can you help?  By working through your issues of not feeling like you’re not good enough.  This is your self-esteem.  By working on your self-esteem, by owning your own worth and value as a person, you save yourself a ton of grief and you provide an inspiration and role model for others to do the same.