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Five ways to tackle the feeling of not being “good enough”

Most of us have felt like we're not "good enough" at some point or another. This feeling might be triggered by external events, but it's fuelled by an internal dialogue. Changing the way our mind works and focusing on our successes can make a big difference to how we feel about ourselves.

Do you feel like you’re not good enough? Not smart enough, not fun enough, not cool enough… just not enough? You’re not alone, most people feel the same.

Chances are that your friend whom you think is super cool, super smart, super popular and super confident feels just the same: not good enough.

So why do we feel like this?

It may have started in childhood with a demanding parent, grandparent, teacher or other: “Look at how polite your friend Sam is, why can’t you be more like him?” “70% on your test? What did your classmates get?”

It then likely got exacerbated by the surrounding environment while growing up : social media constantly making us feel like everyone is leading better lives, the job market showing us time and time again that someone deserved our dream job more than we did….

The list goes on, but the point is that external triggers led us to believe that we are in fact “not good enough” and now that feeling is hard to shake.

Understanding why we feel like we’re not good enough is important, but it’s also important to change the way our mind works so that we can take a step back and feel better.

Remind yourself that your feelings are not reality

Just because you think it, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

It’s easy to take everything that happens around us as yet another demonstration of the fact that we’re not good enough. However, while external factors may trigger this feeling, it is actually fuelled by our internal dialogue.

Realising that our internal dialogue is distorting the way we perceive the world is an important way to take a step back and change our mindset.

Fire up your imagination

Our minds are wired to focus on the negative, and we can actually re-wire them to pay more attention to our achievements and all the other good things that happen in life.

One way to do this is to remind your mind of the good feeling elicited by doing something that make us happy or proud. Try this:

Think of a time when you were “good enough” – i.e. you did something well

Make sure that you visualise the exact moment: what were the surroundings like? What made you feel good in that specific moment? How did you feel?

Think of a word to describe yourself in that moment (it can be anything: “I’m awesome”, “I rock”.. whatever!)

Remind yourself of that moment and repeat the words over to yourself a few times

Do this 5 times in a row a few times a day – it really helps to remind your mind and body of that feeling!

Ground yourself

Sometimes we get so caught up in our internal dialogue of not being “good enough” that we miss all the signs that point to the contrary. The best way to do it is to be mindful so that you can be in the present rather than in your thoughts.

If you think meditation isn’t for you, try this grounding exercise – it’s a very physical way to be present and take your focus away from your thoughts.

Sit comfortably with your feet firmly planted on the floor

Push your feet against the floor as hard as possible and notice the physical feeling of this

Touch something – a pet, a set of keys, a phone, whatever! – and notice the feeling of the object against your fingertips

This really helps to distract you from your negative thoughts and focus on the present – try to do this as often as possible

Celebrate your wins

It’s easy to put pressure on yourself to always perform better while ignoring what we do well (“Yeah, but that doesn’t count – it was easy”).

Try to be more mindful of your successes and take a moment to celebrate them. It can be something big like getting a promotion or some positive feedback, or something smaller like helping a friend feel better.

Celebrating small wins helps to realise that you have successes in your everyday life and trains you to be more mindful of them. Try to write down three successes each day.

Identify your triggers

When you feel like the feeling of not being “good enough” is coming over, take a step back and think about what triggered it.

Was it the picture of your school friend and their perfect summer body? Was it the LinkedIn notification of your university friend landing your dream job?

Whatever it is, be mindful of what triggered this feeling. This will make it more manageable and over time will stop you from falling down the spiral of negative thinking.

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