“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt
Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough?
I bet you do! I know the feeling. We all doubt ourselves sometimes – it’s human nature. And the really crazy thing is, we think everyone else is doing better than us. But they aren’t.
Every day we’re comparing apples with oranges – comparing our insides with other people’s outsides. That colleague of yours who’s giving a really smooth presentation to the boss, while you wait nervously in your chair until it’s your turn? She very well might be panicking inside. You just can’t tell.
In fact, if she’s truly great, she likely is panicking inside. Research suggests that the so-called “impostor syndrome” may get more intense as people get better at what they do: the more accomplished you become, the more likely you are to rub shoulders with ever more talented and skilled people, leaving you feeling even more inadequate by comparison. So, in a backwards way, if you’re concerned that you don’t measure up, that could very well be a good sign that you actually do measure up just fine.
The late and great Maya Angelou, a renowned novelist and poet, once said, “I have written 11 books, but each time, I think ‘Uh-oh. They’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.” Angelou was an extraordinary talent, but she was also extraordinary in being willing to admit that she wasn’t always confident about that.
And in today’s always-connected world it’s even harder to keep things in perspective. Our lives are literally unfolding on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. We use these social technologies, not surprisingly, to showcase the best parts of our lives: the beautiful weddings and enviable honeymoons, the finished projects, and the best smiles. But we forget that we’re only seeing everyone else’s highlight reel too – not the sleepless nights, the failed attempts, the moments of grief and self-doubt.
So with all of this in mind, if you’re not feeling “good enough” right now, it’s time to adjust your thinking. Let’s go over five time-tested ways to do just that:
1. Acknowledge that all emotions come from within.
It’s not outside forces that make us feel something, it’s what we tell ourselves about what’s happening that creates our feelings. People’s judgments, life’s unplanned events, and your unchecked to-do lists are not inherently stressful – it’s your thoughts about these things that stress you out.
Most of us want to place blame and responsibility on external objects and scenarios because it’s the easy thing to do, but the truth remains that all conflicts start internally, in our minds. When we flee from responsibility we are doing nothing but harming ourselves and undermining our self-control and self-discipline.
The next time you run into an obstacle and feel inner resistance, don’t look at what’s around you. Instead, look within.
2. Don’t resist where you are; BE where you are.
Where you are right now is a necessary step.
All too often we avoid experiencing exactly where we are because we have developed a belief, based on our ideals or some lie someone once told us, that it is not where we should be or want to be. But the truth is, where you are right now is exactly where you need to be to get to where you want to go tomorrow.
Take a deep breath, take it all in, and take the lessons with you. (Read The Miracle Morning.)
3. See challenges as stepping-stones.
Marcus Aurelius once said, “Does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself? So remember this principle when something threatens to cause you pain: the thing itself was no misfortune at all; to endure it and prevail is great good fortune.”
Nothing could be closer to the truth.
When you least expect it, life sets you up with a challenge to test your courage and willingness to stretch and change; at such a moment, there’s no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that you are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back.
Say it out loud: “Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”
It will be risky and scary, and yet at the same time, so beautiful. Because the truth is, it shouldn’t be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It’s the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something is difficult to come by, you’ll do that far more to make sure it’s even harder – if not impossible – to lose.
4. Visualize a better life after failure.
Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Know this to be true. Just because you have faced many defeats in your life, does not mean you have been defeated. In fact, the exact opposite is true. A person who makes no mistakes is unlikely to make anything at all. It’s better to have a lifetime full of small failures that you learned from, rather than a lifetime filled with the regrets of never trying.
It’s all about gradually growing stronger and getting better over time.
You can spend months or even years on a project, only to watch it be ignored, or even worse, laughed at. I once worked on a project thinking that it would be a huge success. I spent a full year on it, and it was my most vulnerable work to date. When I released it for others to see, nobody liked it, some people laughed at me, and I cried. That’s what failure feels like when you open up and share an authentic part of yourself. But recovering from that failure is a practice – a mindset. In fact, the harsh lessons I internalized from that experience helped me do my most successful work to date.
In other words: No failure, no growth. (Read The 10X Rule.)
5. Remind yourself that this moment is your most precious resource.
One thing I’ve learned from the most heart wrenching moments of my life – losing loved ones to illness and accidents – is that death is an unpredictable inevitability. Embracing this fact provides a sense of urgency, to realize that you’ve lived a certain number of hours, and the hours ahead of you are not as guaranteed as the ones you’ve already lived. When I think of this I am reminded that every day truly is an opportunity to learn and grow, not in a cliché kind of way, but to honestly appreciate what we are capable of achieving and how we are responsible for the quality of our present lives. This makes our self-respect, focus, work ethic, generosity, self-awareness, and growth evermore important, right here, right now. It leaves no time to wallow in self-doubt.
The last thing any of us wants to do is die with regret, hence why respecting the reality of death puts life into perspective. It humbles us and should also deeply motivate us to lead our lives and do our best today: less procrastinating, comparing, criticizing and consuming; more trying, creating, learning and living. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
Sometimes the pressure coming from peers, family, work, and society in general is enough to make us feel completely broken inside. If we don’t have the “right” job, relationship, lifestyle, and so forth, by a certain age or time frame, we assume we’re just “not good enough.” Angel and I hear about this kind of self-defeating mindset from our coaching clients (get coaching here) and blog subscribers (subscribe here) on a daily basis, and we aren’t immune either.
The tips above will help, but I’d love to learn about your firsthand experience with self-doubt. Which of the points in this post do you resonate with the most? What makes you feel “not good enough?” How have you coped with this negativity?
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.
Great post! Thanks for sharing!
“See challenges as stepping-stones.” I agree 100%!
Opportunity, innovation, confidence, strength and money most of the time are the results of short-term pain, fear, anxiety, chaos and problems…
I think in every bad situation there is the possibility for something positive! Its only a matter of looking at it the right way, and taking appropriate action.
All five points here resonate deeply.
I find myself comparing other authors’ ages to my own, and this is what makes me feel “not good enough.” The internal litany goes like this: “Wow. He’s 3 years younger than me. He’s been published since before he was 30. Here I am in my 40s and I’ve not published anything…”
But I haven’t given up. I’ll keep writing until I’m “good enough” in the eyes of an editor or agent. Thanks for a really good article, and for continuing to motivate me each week with your emails!
Christian Meadows says
Sometimes it’s just so hard to be mindful and levelheaded when life gets stressful. I’ve lost track of my self-worth to a great extent in the process. But I truly appreciate these reminders, and I am regaining confidence again.
I’m a fairly new reader of your blog – I actually discovered you when a friend gave me your book as a gift last month. I enjoyed it so much I looked you up. Honestly, your perspective is just what I need to read these days. Thank you so much for helping me stay sane through this difficult time of my life.
Thanks for another great post Marc & Angel! #1 is spot on.
If we envy someone else for what they have, or dislike someone’s personality, most of the time there’s a deeper emotion about something lacking in our own life.
It’s when we fully connect with our emotions and allow them to be what they are that we become able to show our true self.
And how can we ever expect to be good enough until we allow our authentic self to show?
Shiva kumar says
Just yesterday I was feeling very bad about my friend’s actions – something I couldn’t control – and then I realized that it’s only our thoughts that make us feel bad or good. SO I changed my thoughts. Your post describes my feelings and makes me feel better now that I am assured I did the right thing. Thanks.
“Sometimes the pressure coming from peers, family … is enough to make us feel completely broken inside.If we don’t have the “right” job … by a certain age or time frame…”
Sometimes the pressure comes after achieving the “right” job.
When I started following my passion and left my “safe” job, I was filled with joy. To work from home or from a cafe whenever I wanted. To have as much free time as I wanted.
My wife encouraged me to follow my heart.
I felt so proud about my decision. I couldn’t wait to tell my parents and my brother. I imagined everyone celebrating with me.
But, boy was I in for a surprise.
My father said I should stick to my “safe” job. My mother reacted with sheer silence. Even my brother didn’t get why I would quit my job.
All energy was sucked out of me. I felt down. I was suffocated by self-doubt. And it took me weeks to recover.
This taught me that when you start something new and unconventional, share it only with your wife or best friend, who are truly supportive.
You don’t need the change to become more difficult than it already is.
Realizing that all emotions come from within is hard for me. I always want to blame circumstances for my emotions. Reminding myself of this saying helps with daily positive thinking.
Thanks, I am encouraged.
Your website does help me a lot…but my 20 year old daughter living with me has a borderline personality…she is aggressive, disorganized and totally drains me. I feel she is destroying me. I gave her a deadline, she must move out in June…but oh, the days are hard and long. I have a job I love, friends, but she drains me so much, I feel extremely depressed the minute I walk in my own home…what can I do to stay afloat? Any suggestions, anyone? Thank you!
Number 1 is huge for me! “Acknowledging that all emotions come from within”resonated. I will use this “tool” everyday. Thank you for this site. Practical advice without being “preached” to. I go church for that!
Mary Spiegel says
Great post. Hits me right where I am. I wasn’t good enough at the end of my marriage as I was held as a prisoner in my home and didn’t learn things, just got abuse. I had possibilities in my head, but no way to get there as I didn’t know how. So now I want to learn everything and am not going to allow fear to stop me.
All of us take up a set amount of space on this earth…I find all of us are standing on about four square feet. The point is, we should decide exactly what enters into that area…Nobody else should be in control of that space that is yours and yours alone. If someone verbally insults you or demeans you, have a shield around the area that those negative hurtful comments /situations will just bounce off… Remember what you heard as a kid…”Sticks and stones…”
April B says
Love that Winston Churchill quote. I had been beating myself up about a silly mistake, and today has been full of small reminders, including your post, to be kinder to myself, more loving and forgiving. Thank you.
Moses Chukwu says
All the points you raised here are really great. Especially the third point: All challenges are to be surmounted if we have to move forward.
Donna of Walks In Spirit says
It all resonated with me, but this is my biggest inspiration from the article: “Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”
Your articles help me so much. I am a park ranger and was recently asked if I wanted to transfer to a different park, one that is much bigger then I had been at. My new supervisor is a bit abrupt and controlling and trats me like I am five years old,(I am 58), I am full of self doubt most of the time, thinking I’m not doing any thing right. I wake up at 2:00am and worry, fortunately my staff love me and always are encouraging me and tell me I am doing great things for the park. The part of your article that stood out for me is where you talk about “growth” I know I have much to learn and once I get that in my head, I can stop doubting myself and pat myself on the back and say “Good job Joanne” and then keep learning and growing. But it sure is painful getting to that place.
Cate Moore says
Sometimes we are so deep in our own self perception and history, we lack perspective. Your heart can ache while your head tells you it shouldn’t ache so much – that is what it means to be human. I always love your posts because we need these reminders. We are all an interesting mix of our wounds, our brokenness, our hopes, and our dreams. There is always a gift hidden in feeling not “good enough” – and this list is how we find this gifts. Maybe we become stronger or more resilient or more aware or better at honouring our boundaries….whatever it is, it is a gift.
Thank you for always writing content that matters. xo
Christine Powell says
I have felt this way for a while. When things don’t seem to be working out the way I see it or the way others are experiencing life at the moment it causes self-doubt and not feeling good enough. My thoughts and feelings seem to be my own worst enemies. This is exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you.
I was feeling so down and luckily found this article.
It opened my eyes again to stay strong.
Matt Palka says
Thank you for this wonderful article. It helps!
It’s funny…just last night my friends and I were talking about how we compare ourselves to others and one of my friends mentioned the concept of apples to oranges; insides to outsides. Right now I am dealing with a challenging situation and for the past couple of days I have been feeling like a failure. I will use your advice to see what I can learn from this situation and the positive outcomes that I can make happen. Thank you!
For Johanne: You are not alone. There are so many of us that have children and young adults that have mental health issues. My heart goes out to you as it is difficult for extended families, friends and co-workers to understand.
Along with Marc and Angel’s superb posts encouraging us to take care of ourselves, I would recommend counseling and finding a support group of families struggling with the same. Google support groups; there are national groups but I do not know if this would be printed if it appears I am promoting such even though non-profit. A psychologist could tell you.
Take care of yourself and if you don’t mind me recommending support for depression, please do so if you have not. It sounds like your life, career, friends, etc. are intact. That is a blessing. Keep nurturing that.
We have two young adults living at home and I am part of a support group of Mom’s and also advocating for better mental care for our children and youth. No one has any idea how this is unless you are experiencing it.
Thank you Marc and Angel for continuing to share your coaching as well as being open about your own struggles.
And I hope you find the right support, Johanne. Best wishes.
I am an insurance professional working with many “mega” super smart professionals . I often have the opportunity to participate in a task force, attend conferences and/or just offer advice – I often think of this phrase: “Even a cat may look at a king!” This just resonates my wonderment of being involved sometimes with these highly skilled professionals. Thank you.
This is for Johanne:
First, I agree with Kim- get yourself a support network. Perhaps in person if you live in a city or perhaps online. Living with someone with mental health issues can suck the life right out of you without proper support.
You also mentioned your job. I have found in life that often times, people (bosses or co-workers) are simply negative people. If you know in your heart that you are doing a good job, take the beneficial feedback from the person that’s difficult and jettison the negative stuff. They have their own issues and don’t let them take them out on you.
I wish you the best. I will keep you in my prayers. P
Number 1 and 2 are very helpful for me.
I’m still pretty young and it’s a constant battle to not let others decisions and where they are at in life effect me.
Most of my friends are starting to get engaged or already have the jobs they want, while I experienced a bad break up and am still figuring out my career.
So its a good reminder to know that I am in control of how I feel about situations and that right now is where I should be… to figure out where I will be. Thanks for reminding all of us!
Too many people are afraid to make change and do everything in their power to resist what will bring them long-term joy in their lives because they fear losing the life they are familiar with. Even though they know it’s right for them, they close the door to happiness.
These 5 points are pearls of wisdom!
I also think this quote from Marcus Aurelius is brilliant: “Does what’s happened keep you from acting with justice, generosity, self-control, sanity, prudence, honesty, humility, straightforwardness, and all other qualities that allow a person’s nature to fulfill itself?”
Marc and Angel, you are both so wise and inspiring. Thank you!
serenity pratt says
OH MY GOD THIS IS SO TIMELY! ITS LIKE YOU WROTE THIS JUST FOR ME. THANK YOU.
It all sounds so good and all seems to make such good sense and resonates with me BUT I just still feel so stuck. I have been through a terrible time at work but scared to get out and secure a new job. Don’t like living on my own but scared to go out and try to put myself out there. Get bullied by a work colleague. Get criticized by my mother, shouted at by my son. I compare myself with others and feel inferior. I have to read and re read the above and let it sink in and act upon it. Thank you. I find your works really helpful and interesting.
I’m a photographer who started in landscapes and I was getting quite a reputation for my landscapes amongst my peers. I started to realize that although I loved landscape photography I was not going to be able make a living doing that so I had to learn portrait photography. It’s been hard especially given that I spend time with very good portrait photographers, one being a close friend and mentor. I question my ability daily but as you have said if I wasn’t good enough then I wouldn’t be surrounded by those people in the first place.
I am inspired by it all!! Thank you for the great tips, definitely going to put them to great use… Feeling not good enough not only with family but with society as well has been my greatest challenge yet, but I must and will overcome my demons from within and conquer them all!! Thank you 🙂
I really appreciated this post. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Today I had been in a rut with my feelings of not being where I would like to be in my life. I started to compare my life to others via social media, which I knew wasn’t healthy but I got it out. This feeling only pushed me to want to dig deeper and go harder with my own success.
Lily Earhart says
Today is a new day and yesterday was history . Yesterday wasn’t a mentally strong day for me . I recognize how difficult it is to stay positive when you are the one on the outside dealing with a mate on the inside.. Some days I feel like cracking down (not just giving up) and other days I feel like the universe is mine. I would wish to cognize how you stay confident and motivated (strong) while your partner is gone forth? Something that has genuinely helped me is to speak positive for myself through a stituation.. And walk in Faith.
Sometimes, there’s the heavy feeling in chest when you don’t feel like speaking to anyone. All you want to do is wrap yourself up wid a pillow and cry out because the feeling you are going through is extremely exhausting. At such situation, after I am done with crying, I talk to myself and make myself understand as saying, “Don’t worry, something will turn up” or I’ll talk to my friend for the solution and atlast I trust myself for a better future tomorrow.
Very instructive article. Thank you.
I’m a single mom, and I always compare myself to those women who are single and still young. I haven’t found someone to love me as a woman, and sometimes I think the reason is because I have a daughter.. Since I separated with my ex husband, I went out with this man whom I loved a lot but he didn’t want to be involved in a serious relationship with me because I was a single mom, he felt ashamed of me because of that. We went out for 2 years and a half, but three weeks ago I read an article from you about what “happy people do”, (that was the moment we I started following this blog)…. and It made me realize that I have to finish that hurtful relationship with him. So, I did it a week ago, because it wasn’t right for me… I kept thinking about the article, and each time I thought of him, I talk to myself and repeat everything you say in your articles (kind of funny hehehe).
I started thinking that I can be enough to myself and my kid, and someday I will find someone to love…
I appreciate a lot all these articles, I wish I could get one of your books, but I live in a country so far away.. (Venezuela) Thanks a lot for this blog!!!
I would like to share my story with you . I have four children that I adore . But some time ago, I hated that I was just a mother. Wherever I looked , I saw “successful” women who are university graduates , occupied some ” big and important ” jobs . At that time, I was often asked , “Who am I? I was desperate, I felt totally unsuccessful. Every day I prayed to God to help me . And one day find a book where it says the following: “How do you know you’re in the right place and what is your purpose? The place where you are is the right place and your purpose is what exactly you’re doing.” I believe that this is God’s Word . I realized that my life is different and only mine and I began to enjoy in my role as a mother. The fact is that we make ourselves stressed out with unnecessary chaos.
This post could not have come at a better time for me. I was given the opportunity for a radio job, even though I have been out of the industry for 2 years. I moved 2 Provinces away yesterday, and I start my first show on Monday. I have been so worried that I won’t be good enough. Even psyching myself out on more than one occasion. My friends and family have all the confidence in the world in me, yet I don’t share that certainty. Reading this post has helped me change my mindset, and I’m sure I will be re-reading it for many days ahead. Everything happens for a reason… so now I just need to work on my thoughts and being positive and confident. Thanks for this when I needed it most!
Marc Chernoff says
@Johanne: I couldn’t agree more with the advice Kim and Pam left for you. Sending prayers of strength your way.
Andreina: YOU WILL. Keep being your amazing self. 🙂 Also, FYI our book is available for purchase online (and we ship overseas).
@All: Thank you, as always. Your comments are often one of my biggest inspirations to write and share.
Another great article guys! This week one year ago I made a difficult and very stressful decision to sell my home of 32 years. I was visiting a friend who lived two miles away and noticed a “for sale” sign on a nearby house. On impulse I contacted the land agent on my cell phone and fell in love the moment I walked inside the house. Some friends were supportive while others were not so eg “how COULD you sell your beautiful house?” and “but you’ve been there over 30 years and have done all that work on it”. I felt I being undermined by having to justify my decision to sell. However I listened to my “gut feeling” that it was the right thing to do, despite the financial risks if I was unable to sell my old house. I had also just retired from my job of 40 years and felt scared how I would fill in my days. I cut short a trip to Sydney arriving back at midnight to attend the midday auction. The move was challenging – and the cat ran away (two days later someone found him over a mile away across a four lane arterial road!). But it all worked out and my time is now occupied with gardening and renovating the house. The old house was great to live in, but I have no regrets. The move has given me a new lease in life plus lots of friendly new neighbours. And the cat decided to stay! I am so grateful I listened to that “gut feeling”.
Sam Hardy says
Everything is ultimately about acceptance. Accepting every feeling and emotion you go through – whether it is sadness or joy.
Then accepting everything that is going on – without the moment intentionally worse!
Dave Edgerton says
Thank you Marc and Angel For this inspiring and awesome article on living life to the fullest – taking good care of not only myself but of those I care for and love dearly.
Life is not complicated – these are the only years I will ever get so I live each and everyday with gratitude 🙂
Thanks for all you do,
Anne Kaelber says
This post came across my desk today because my wife encourages me — and the timing could *not* have been more perfect. I’m trying a new method for writing a novel, hoping to actually complete the story arc this time. I’ve been dithering about whether it’s “good enough” and this reminded me to believe in myself and have faith that I can get it right.
To anyone reading: you *are* good enough.
I was really inspired by the short article. The five topics really puts one’s feet on the ground. I would love to read the your book and recommend it to all my friends! Great!
Ritu Chowdhary says
Thank you for the wonderful article!! I’ve become a huge fan of you guys – Marc and angel, you people are doing a fantastic job!!
Just like many of the readers, I usually come across the right article in a much needed time. This one made me want to share a tip with you that I find very relieving. We’ve all experienced times where the pressure was so intense we could only think of quitting. I’ve had to decide, many times, to stop doing everything as if my life depended on it. Life is not about just one thing, and once we start achieving goals because we want to and not because we have to, we approach the situation with a clean state of mind, therefore, we’re more productive. Just like I always make it home at the end of the day, nothing lasts for ever. Why take it all so seriously. If we knew how short life is, pressure, self doubt, and obstacles wouldn’t be such big deals. We would simply make the most of it, no regrets, and we would share our knowledge, and learn without fear.