Tips for Coping When You Don’t Feel Good Enough
Not feeling good enough is a sentiment that is more widespread than many would care to admit. A lot has been written and said about impostor syndrome, for example. This is when highly accomplished people carry a knot of doubt with them that they don’t deserve their success, position, or accomplishments.
They live in fear that they’ll be unmasked for the frauds they feel themselves to be, that people will find out who they really are. Such doubts can be crippling, and they prevent us from living in freedom and with joy.
How to Deal with Not Feeling Good Enough
There are very few feelings as fulfilling as that of doing good work well. There is something within us that makes us enjoy being good at something, especially if it’s important, or even if it’s simply important to us.
We often associate the things that we can do with who we are. Another way of saying that is that we attach value or worth to ourselves based on what we do and how good we are at doing it. Aside from this, we can find many other things that we use to peg our value – for example, our relationships, our work, and our accomplishments.
How then can you deal with not feeling good enough? Here are several suggestions to apply.
Seek an outside perspective.
One place to start in dealing with not feeling good enough is to find another voice to which you can listen. Though it may not deal with every facet of feeling like you’re not good enough, hearing the affirming voice of a trusted individual can go a long way.
A good mentor, for instance, will let you know when you’re being in your head too much, and whether your expectations of yourself are reasonable. Sometimes by talking with your peers, you may find that you’re not alone in feeling inadequate. Blessed joy!Being in company with others certainly helps shift our perspectives. It’s not uncommon for grad students, for example, to feel like they’re the dumb one in their cohort, or to feel like they must have sneaked in past the people responsible for recruiting and admitting competent students.
However, talking with others in their cohort will reveal how this feeling of inadequacy is more widespread than at first anticipated. A friend or a counselor can also help you more accurately assess yourself, or they can help you create a plan to get better if there are indeed areas of improvement.
Maybe you’re not feeling good enough because of a moral failing, and you can seek God’s perspective on that. When we encounter God through the Scriptures, we come to understand that he tends to have a soft spot for the down and out. He reaches out to those that see and acknowledge their need.
Overall, our gut feelings aren’t always to be trusted, and we need to heed the wise words of others as they speak truth over our lives.
Remember a snapshot isn’t the whole picture.
It needs to be said that sometimes, the feeling of not being good enough is well justified. When you’ve just started a new sport, job, or activity that requires skill, you may fall short and feel like you don’t belong there.
It’s not uncommon for intelligent, capable people, for instance, to feel completely out of their depth when they start something new. Grad students, medical residents, athletes that have freshly joined the ranks of the professionals, a student chef working their first dinner service at a restaurant – these and many others feel out of their depth, and they can begin to question their life choices.
What one mustn’t do is confuse the snapshot for the whole picture. You may not feel good enough here and now, but you must recognize that there’s a learning curve and you’re just getting started. Give yourself the room you need to grow and develop your skillset.Having said the above, there’s another angle to the situation. If you are on a journey and trying to make headway on that learning curve, it’s natural to have setbacks, to fall, and to get up again. Whenever any of us go through those inevitable ups and downs, we need to decide whether to stay the course and keep going or to take another path.
If you’re in a situation where you don’t feel good enough to perform certain tasks, you have some decisions to make. The situation is this: Do you stay, stick it out and learn what you need to? Or do you cut your losses and move on? These are questions to resolve between yourself and God.
Despite our culture’s loud cries that we can do and be anything, these ideas can be unhealthy by causing people to overextend themselves and work in areas that aren’t part of their gifting. Sheer grit can get you places, but it can also make you burn yourself out doing things that aren’t in your lane. Here we can see the benefits of getting a helpful perspective from others.
While you may not be great at sprinting, you might be better at longer-distance races. It does you no good to go about not feeling good enough while sticking to sprint races when what’s really needed is changing your event. Sometimes, not feeling good enough in a particular area may be a signal to try something new.
Remember your worth in God’s eyes.
What is it that makes you valuable and a worthwhile human being? We can try and define ourselves by various measures – how popular we are, how good we are at performing certain tasks, how good-looking we are, whether people hold us in high esteem, our social status, and so much else.
The problem with all of these markers is that they aren’t fixed – you can lose your good looks, you can become a pariah, an accident can hamper your ability to perform tasks, and your social status can shift radically overnight.
Instead of looking to these things to peg our self-esteem or measure our worth, we ought to look elsewhere. What makes human beings valuable is that they are made in God’s image. That is something that can never be taken away from you, regardless of your circumstances.
You are God’s creation, and if you believe in Jesus you are God’s child. As Jesus reminds us, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28 ESV).
We are also encouraged by these words from the book of Romans:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35-39
Our position before God is secured; we have worth because of who God created us to be, and we are loved as God’s children through Jesus Christ. If we ever find ourselves feeling like we are not good enough, we can remind ourselves of these and other truths, allowing them to sink into our hearts and reshape our lives.
Create space to process and interrogate your thoughts.
Our thoughts aren’t always innocent, and they need to be unpacked. It can be helpful for you to go back to the beginning and understand why you don’t feel good enough.
Perhaps it’s something someone said to you that lodged in your heart and has shaped your thinking ever since. It may be an unpleasant experience that you feel has now marked you for life. These ways of thinking about yourself aren’t written in stone. Things can change, for the better.
Working with a therapist, for instance, can help you uncover the patterns of thinking that reinforce the idea that you aren’t good enough. These thoughts and the patterns of behavior that go with that can be unlearned, and new ones developed. Through a therapeutic technique called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) among others, you can address these unhelpful patterns of being and learn to think of yourself as a human being worthy of love, respect, and good things.
“On the Court”, Courtesy of M Cooper, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Dewdrop”, Courtesy of Aaron Burden, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Light Through A Tree”, Courtesy of Jeremy Bishop, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Cherry Blossoms”, Courtesy of Elyssa Fahndrich, Unsplash.com, CC0 License