Is the feeling of not being ‘good enough’ holding you back in your personal or professional life? As part of our Burst the self-doubt campaign, our experts share their 10 top tips on how you can break the negative cycle of critical thoughts and transform the way you think.

1. Explore what ‘good enough’ actually means

For anyone plagued with feelings of ‘not being good enough’, therapist Lucy Myers suggests focusing on the areas of your life that trouble you most.

Lucy says: “Consider what ‘good enough’ looks like for you. How idealised and unrealistic is this version of yourself you’re aiming for? What is the story you are telling yourself about what life would be like ‘if only’ you were more ‘intelligent, funny, attractive, confident, popular, successful, rich…etc”

2. Focus on your strengths

“Your next task is to ask yourself: what are the things and qualities you value about yourself?” says Lucy. “Consider what others value about you too. How hard is it to answer this question? If it’s making you feel very uncomfortable or lost for words, this is a sign of low self-esteem and self-worth.”

Lucy suggests looking at the things you value in the people you care about too – such as your friends, family, and colleagues. How many of those things match your own strengths and qualities? This may show you that perhaps you are more valuable than you think, just as you are…

3. Spot the gaps

“Now look again at the gap between your idealised self and your actual self,” says Lucy. “Does it look any different to you? If there are gaps, are they really things that are wrong with you as a person, or are they things you have been avoiding addressing? Such as leaning into a new skill with freedom and permission to fail, or having that conversation you’ve been avoiding for some time?”

4. Test yourself

The next step that Lucy suggests is allowing yourself to fail.

“What would it be like to allow yourself to fail a bit today, on something that you would otherwise do perfectly?” asks Lucy. “What would it be like to admit to someone you’re struggling with a project due to lack of time, direction or resource, and ask for help and support?”

5. Assess your relationships

Lucy then suggests assessing about your relationships with other people.

“Do you find yourself going out of your way to put the needs of others first? Do you say yes to things when you want to say no, for fear of how the other person will react? Do you feel you’re always putting yourself out for others, but then feel hurt, or resentful when they don’t return the favour to you?”

Lucy says to consider what it would be like if you felt that people truly liked, valued, loved, and respected you just as you are: how would you behave differently?

“Remember the Buddhist quote from the famous Dhammapada: We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. If you lived in a world where you were good enough, how would you live your life today? Believe in you,” says Lucy.

6. Limit social media use

Therapist Billie Dunlevy says that if you find yourself being consumed by social media, try limiting your usage.

“While you might enjoy it for connecting get curious about how it impacts your mental health, start paying attention to when you use it and how you feel afterwards. If you follow people or accounts that make you feel bad, stop! Curate your feed. Take back your choice in what you give your attention to,” shares Billie.

7. Make time for deeper connections

Billie also says that connection is key and making time in your schedule beyond a quick coffee break can really help.

“Because so many people feel busy, they don’t meet with friends in a way that allows them to go below the surface and have deeper, sometimes more meaningful conversations. When we make time for this, we are more likely to be more truthful about the tough stuff and in turn so can others be as they know there is space to be heard,” explains Billie.

8. Take relational risks with people who feel safe

Billie says that people with low-esteem and ‘not good enough’ feelings sometimes struggle to share how they really feel, but by seeking out opportunities to open up to people you feel can trust can really boost confidence.

“If it feels safe to do so, share how you really feel. Many people with low self-esteem pretend all the time they are someone they are not, and this is an incredibly lonely way to lead your life.”
Billie suggests some journal prompts to consider could be: Where can I be more authentic in my relationships? What are the barriers that stop me? Are these real or are they based on my fears and projections?

9. Treat yourself like someone who matters

Billie says it’s important to consider how far down on your list your needs, desires and wants come.

“Low self-esteem and being overly other oriented and prone to people pleasing can go hand in hand,” explains Billie. “But when we pay attention to ourselves and take care of ourselves it sends a very important message inward: “I matter, I’m of value and my value isn’t tied to my doing for other people. It’s tied to my being.”

10. Seek professional help

Both Billie and Lucy suggest seeking professional help with a registered and trained therapist can play a crucial part in helping you to better understand your personal beliefs, and how they might have formed and continue to be informed by your life.

“Therapy is often a place where people are honest about how they really feel as their practitioner is not directly influenced by what they believe and say,” shares Lucy. “This can be incredibly liberating and healing for those struggling to feel good enough. I work creatively and collaboratively with clients to develop new ways of understanding yourself, and support you to courageously experiment with thinking, feeling and behaving differently out there in the world, enabling you to experience yourself, your relationships with others differently.”

If you would like to discuss any of these issues with a trained and registered counsellor or therapist, please visit the BACP directory.