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. Some days, I’ll tell myself that I’m not competent enough to be successful, and other days, I’m convinced that any success I’ve had thus far is a fluke and due to luck and timing (not my own skill and hard work). Of course, sometimes 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 question whether or not we truly deserve it. And it doesn’t stop at our professional lives. We doubt our abilities as a partner, friend, or parent. While it’s normal to have those feelings, it doesn’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) the norm. They’re detrimental to our personal lives, professional goals, and 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. Whatever the root of your imposter syndrome is, it likely comes from one (or both) of the biggest proponents of low self-worth. Below are 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 influencers on social media who have reached these “accomplishments,” regardless of 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. Through our endless scrolling, we get stuck on the hamster wheel of wanting what others have and feeling like they are always doing something better.
You have high expectations for 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, 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 goals, prioritizing self-improvement, and pushing yourself to pursue what you desire. 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 looking forward to your future. If it feels like you’re letting yourself (or others) down or not living up to expectations, you may need to revisit your “why” or purpose. Are the goals you’ve set what you really want or are they coming from an old timeline you’ve held yourself to? Consider reprioritizing your ambitions based on who you are today and the person you want to be.
3 ways to get over the fear of not being good enough:
Be honest and ask for help
If we were all more transparent about our lives, fears, and where we feel we’re falling short, we’d learn that no one has it all together and very few people actually feel “good enough.” When one person vulnerably shares where they feel inadequate, it starts a ripple effect and others around them feel permission to do the same. Ask a coworker for help with a skill you’re still building, lean on your significant other during a difficult week, or open up to your best friend about your insecurities. We’re not “good enough” when we can juggle it all—career, relationships, self-care—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 our struggles.
Identify what you truly want out of life
When I find myself in comparison mode, I try to decipher between my perception and reality. If a fellow entrepreneur I follow seems to have it all figured out with her business whereas I feel like I’m treading water with mine, I automatically think she has reached the definition of success and I’ve failed. Is it because she has more Instagram followers, posts more often, or has a fancier website? Success can mean so many different things, whether it’s the ability to have a flexible schedule or doing what you’re passionate about for a living. Success very rarely looks the same for everyone and, what’s more, there’s enough “success” to go around 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 in comparison to other people, whether it’s their career, relationship, or body type, think about whether or not what you’re comparing is truly what would make you happy. Happiness is subjective—it looks and feels different to everyone. Evaluate whether the comparisons 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 posts 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 what you’re lacking, focus on what you do have. When we’re bogged down by where we fall short, we fail to see everything we do have going for us. For every missed opportunity, mistake, or flaw, you have so much more to be proud of and grateful for. Take time to recognize your strengths, successes, and wins. Write them down, celebrate them no matter how small they are, and return to them when you need to.