Why Do I Feel Like I Am Not Good Enough?

Updated March 29, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Everyone may experience a certain level of insecurity about their lives at some point. Many insecurities can be 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 they are undeserving of friendships, love, or career advancement, it can place that person in a holding pattern in life that can lead to loneliness or unhappiness. These can be serious issues which a mental health professional can help address. Let's take a closer look at some of the underlying causes of many personal insecurities.

Do You Feel Inadequate Or Out Of Place?

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 may become convinced that the relationship and the other person's love are undeserved. They may unconsciously begin efforts to sabotage the relationship. Feelings of being undeserving of the relationship can cause this individual to begin acting in a manner that can cause 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, perhapswith the individual slipping up on the job, doing things that they know are wrong. Sometimes people with deep-set insecurity issues may 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 might not be able to give a rational explanation, which can make the situation worse. But how does a person tell an employer that they are subconsciously self-sabotaging because they don't feel like they are good enough?

Where Does This Come From?

This underlying sense of low self-worth can sometimes be traced to childhood abuse or trauma. Perhaps the child was told by parents or other authority figures that they were worthless or would never amount to anything in life. A child can absorb these negative messages and sometimes convert them to how everyone views them. Instead of developing a healthy ego, they may then develop a sense of self that is overly critical or questioning of their abilities. Ultimately, they may feel that they are not deserving of love or respect. 

Impostor Syndrome

Do you have difficulties 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 have symptoms of “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 may tend to be very high achieving. People who manage impostor syndrome may feel depressed and anxious because they might believe they will be discovered as fakes at any moment. This can create a great deal of personal stress and unless the person seeks help, can lead to occupational impairment over time.

How They Respond To Praise

When given praise, people who have impostor syndrome may 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 have impostor syndrome, perhaps due to their unrealistic standards around their performance in a professional or academic sphere. 

It's important to point out that there is typically no basis in reality for these beliefs. The person who has these thoughts are often admired by their supervisors, coworkers, and peers for their competence and hard work.

Many people who grapple with impostor syndrome may perceive themselves as having deceived or manipulated others into thinking they are more competent than they truly are and they may assume they will be discovered at some point. More often than not, this is pure fiction and has no basis in fact. 


Another common underlying cause of personal insecurity is an intense feeling of helplessness at some point. There are times when we may 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 can affect our ability to function from day to day. People who have this issue might give up too soon or may decide to not try anything they perceive as being difficult. If you feel helpless on a daily basis, this could be 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.

Do You Feel Inadequate Or Out Of Place?

Toxic Environments

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

Spending their entire workday in a place where they are bullied and belittled can reduce their positive sense of self over time. If you find yourself in a toxic workplace, it may be time to consider leaving that position before you potentially become overwhelmed by feelings of insecurity and negativity.


Feelings of self-worth may be 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 can be serious, and can impact an individual's personal, social, and professional life.

When we experience these issues, it can be 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 can be a positive first step to learning strategies on how to increase self-esteem and improve quality of life. Online counseling can help people who have low self-worth, impostor syndrome and other issues where people have difficulties with perceived incompetence.

Clinical studies have demonstrated that online therapy is effective in treating symptoms of anxiety, depression, and many other forms of psychological distress. Online therapy comes with many benefits when compared to traditional, in-person therapy sessions. For example, online therapy is more convenient as you can do it anywhere with an internet connection. Online therapy is also more cost-effective, as therapists don’t have to charge as much when they don’t have all the expenses associated with a physical office. 

Sometimes we can hurt ourselves by saying that we are worthless. But an online counselor can help.

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