Why Do I Feel Like I Am Not Good Enough?

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated July 11, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Dutil , LMHC, LPC

Why aren't I good enough? Do you ask yourself this question a lot? Everyone experiences a certain level of insecurity about their lives at some point . Many insecurities are often associated with physical appearance, intelligence, social skills, talent, or any number of personal attributes. If insecurities get in the way of functioning on a personal, social, or professional level, these feelings of inferiority may run more deeply than what are considered normal. Feelings of inferiority can get in the way of social, romantic, and professional goals.

When an individual feels he or she is undeserving of friendships, love, or career advancement, it places that person in a holding pattern in life that can lead to loneliness, unhappiness, and despair. These are serious issues which a mental health professional can help anyone address. Let's take a closer look at some of the underlying causes of many personal insecurities.

Feelings Of Inadequacy Can Keep You From Fully Embracing Life

Low Self-Worth

Sometimes even when an individual is in a relationship with someone who cares for him or her, rather than enjoying the relationship this person is convinced the relationship and the other person's love are undeserved. They will often unconsciously begin efforts to sabotage the relationship. Feelings of being undeserving of the relationship often causes theses individual to begin acting in a manner that causes the significant other to distance him or herself, thus validating the feelings of being undeserving of love.

These same behaviors can manifest themselves in the workplace as well, often with the individual slipping up on the job, doing things that he or she knows are wrong. Sometimes people like this will begin to neglect their duties, such as showing up late for work or meetings. When asked to account for these behaviors by their manager, they cannot give a rational explanation, which makes the situation worse. How does a person tell an employer that he or she doesn't feel like they are good enough?

This underlying sense of low self-worth can oftentimes be traced to a childhood full of abuse or trauma where that person was told he or she is worthless or will never amount to anything in life by parents or other authority figures. A child will take in these various negative messages and convert them to how everyone must view them. Instead of developing a healthy ego, they develop a sense of self that is always critical and questioning of their abilities. Ultimately, they feel that they are not deserving of love or respect. Does this sound familiar?

Impostor Syndrome

Do you struggle with feeling competent at work or school? When people tell you that you are smart or work hard do you not believe them or immediately dismiss these compliments? If so, you may struggle from Impostor syndrome. A term coined in 1978 by behavioral health researchers. It is a psychological term used to describe self-perceived feelings of fraud by people who tend to be very high achieving. People who struggle with impostor syndrome tend to feel depressed and anxious because they believe they will be discovered as fakes at any moment. This creates a great deal of personal stress and unless the person seeks help, can lead to serious occupational impairment over time.

When given praise, people who struggle with impostor syndrome will often think such thoughts as: You're just being nice or I was just lucky that's all. People who feel the need to be a perfectionist often struggle with impostor syndrome due to their unrealistic standards around their performance at work. It's important to point out that there is no basis in reality for these beliefs. The person who struggles with these thoughts are generally admired by their supervisors for their competence and hard work.

Many people who grapple with impostor syndrome perceive themselves as having deceived or manipulated others into thinking they are more competent than they truly are and assume they will be discovered at some point. More often than not this is pure fantasy and has no basis in fact, except in the mind of the person who suffers from the syndrome. Oftentimes, they feel they are not deserving of success.


Another common underlying cause of personal insecurity is a general feeling of helplessness. There are times when we all feel helpless, for instance when someone close to us dies. This is normal and is to be expected. No one feels completely at ease and competent in life all the time.

However, if someone is feeling helpless on a daily basis, this could be a sign of a more serious issue. Many depressive disorders start with feelings of helplessness which can sometimes change to feelings of hopelessness over time. A general feeling of helplessness will affect our ability to function from day to day. People who struggle with this issue often give up too soon or don't try anything they perceive as being difficult. If you struggle with feeling helpless on a daily basis, this is a sign that you should seek professional help. A good mental health professional can work with you on this issue and help you get back to a place where you feel capable and confident.

Feelings Of Inadequacy Can Keep You From Fully Embracing Life

Toxic Environments

Finally, people who live in dysfunctional toxic environments often question whether they are good enough. Growing up in a dysfunctional family as previously discussed will affect a person's self-worth but so will going to a job where a toxic environment exists as well. Many people don't realize how much their work surroundings affect their self-esteem and confidence.

If someone spends their entire work day in a place where they are bullied and belittled, this will reduce their positive sense of self over time. Most of us spend the majority of our day outside our homes. Some people feel very comfortable in their workplaces due to working in an uplifting environment with supportive coworkers and supervisors. If you find yourself in a toxic workplace, it may be time to consider leaving that position before you are overwhelmed by feelings of insecurity and negativity.


Feelings of self-worth are all tied up in upbringing, early relationships, and experiences. Toxic environments and the beginnings of depression can cause people to question their abilities as well feeling like an impostor. Some individuals are able to work through these issues through personal and professional achievements. Temporary stress can also cause us to feel like we are not adequate.

However, people can develop anxiety issues that manifest themselves in self-defeating behaviors if these feelings are more than temporary. Chronic feelings of low self-worth, helplessness, impostor syndrome and living in toxic environments are serious, and can impact an individual's personal, social, and professional life.

When we experience these issues, it's important that we reach out for help as soon as possible. These concerns can be addressed if people are willing to ask for help. Getting help from a qualified professional is a positive first step to learning strategies on how to increase self-esteem and improve quality of life. Online counseling can help people who struggle with low self-worth, impostor syndrome and other issues where people struggle with perceived incompetence.

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