I was terrified to start my own business. Even after years of success, I have fearful moments every day. Sometimes I worry that I’m not smart enough, not productive enough, or not talented enough to make this work. I’ll tell myself that I’m not competent enough to be successful, while other days I’m convinced that any success I’ve had thus far is a fluke, due to luck and timing (not my own skill and hard work). Of course, some days I feel more confident, but it’s hard to avoid the fear of not being good enough or feeling like an imposter.
The fear of not being “good enough” is pervasive. No matter how much success we get, we still doubt if we truly deserve it. And it’s not just in our professional lives: we might worry we’re not good enough in our relationships and friendships, or as a parent. No matter how universal the feeling is, it doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) the norm. It’s detrimental to our personal lives, professional goals, and, most importantly, the relationship we have with ourselves. Read on for how to get over the feeling of not being good enough, once and for all.
So why can’t you get over feeling inadequate?
There are a lot of factors that can contribute to not feeling good enough, like the unrealistic portrayal of women in the media, pressure from external sources like a parent or boss, or our own lack of self-confidence. If we recognize and pay attention to the source of our self-doubt, there’s a greater likelihood that we’ll be conscious of it and able to work through it once it starts to creep in. No matter what the root of your imposter syndrome is, it likely comes from one (or both) of the biggest proponents of low self-worth. Read on to for the two reasons you’re not able to get over the fear of not being good enough:
You’re constantly comparing yourself to others
As a society, we’ve identified tangible markers of success: a nice house, a long term relationship, making a certain salary, or a certain body type. We compare ourselves to friends, family members, and accounts on social media who have reached these “accomplishments,” regardless what their reality might actually be like. Social media plays a huge factor because it’s easy to compare the worst parts of your life to the highlight reel of someone else’s. We’re constantly being bombarded with and exposed to people that have what we want or are doing something better.
You have high expectations of yourself
Sometimes the fear of not being enough comes from internal, rather than external sources. If you call yourself a perfectionist or rarely pause to celebrate goals you reach and instead focus on reaching the next one, your own expectations might be setting you up for imposter syndrome. As Brené Brown writes in The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect.”
Of course, you should be setting high expectations, prioritizing self-improvement, and pushing yourself to pursue your greatest goals. After all, you are worthy and deserving of so much, and you should know how much you can (and will!) accomplish. But you can still love who and where you are right now while still looking forward to your future. If it feels like you’re never reaching goals or living up to expectations, they might be unrealistic and impossible.
3 ways to get over the fear of not being good enough:
Be honest and ask for help
If we were all a little bit more transparent about our lives, fears, and where we feel we’re falling short, we might learn that no one has it all together and very few people actually feel “good enough.” When one person is brave enough to share where they feel inadequate, everyone feels permission to do the same. Plus, when you ask a coworker for help with a skill you fall short in, lean on your significant other during a difficult week, or open up to your best friend about your insecurities, you’d be surprised to find that no one else expects you to be perfect expect you, and that falling short is actually normal. We are not “good enough” when we can do it all perfectly or achieve a certain body type. We’re good enough as we currently are, knowing when to ask for help and being open about where we’re struggling.
Identify what you truly want out of life
When I find myself in comparison mode, I try to decipher between my perception and reality. It may seem like my college friend’s side business is way more successful than mine is, but how am I defining success? Is it because she has more Instagram followers or has a fancier website? Success can mean so many different things, whether it’s the ability to have a flexible schedule or passion for what you’re doing. Someone else’s definition of success doesn’t necessarily have to be mine, and success very rarely looks the same for everyone.
The same thing goes for standards of beauty: The ideal body that you feel best in should look and feel vastly different from everyone else’s. When you find yourself feeling lesser than out of comparison to other people, whether it’s their career, relationship, or body type, identify if what you’re comparing is truly what would make you happy. Happiness looks and feels differently to everyone. Identify if these comparisons would actually matter to you, or if you’re just caught up in the mindset of not being good enough.
Realize and remember the wins
When you find yourself comparing your behind-the-scenes to the perfectly-filtered highlight reel of someone else’s life, remember that everyone has private struggles, failures, and insecurities. There is no such thing as a perfect career, relationship, body, or life, so instead of focusing on where you inevitably aren’t “perfect,” focus on where you do have success. For every missed opportunity, mistake, or flaw, you have so much more to be proud of. When we’re bogged down by where we fall short, we’re blind to everything we do have going for us. Take more time to notice your strengths, successes, and wins. Write them down and return to them when you need to.