We all experience a dip in confidence every now and then, and that’s perfectly normal ― it happens to the best of us. But your self-esteem definitely needs work if you constantly struggle with persistent self-limiting thoughts, like worrying about not being productive enough, smart enough, or talented enough.
Knowing how to get over the fear of not being good enough frees you to live your best life! Although it may feel overwhelming at first, you can be confident, competent, and daring most of the time, even when treading unfamiliar paths.
Of course, you can’t just wave a magic wand and overcome the pestering thought that you’re unimportant or inadequate in some way. But you can take baby steps to bring the changes you want.
Here are my top suggestions for overcoming this debilitating thinking pattern and growing your confidence.
Understand the Reason for the Fear
Attempting to get over incessant self-doubt and feeling unimportant without understanding what’s making you perceive yourself that way merely addresses the symptoms, not the cause.
The reasons for your intense fear could be genuine; in many cases, there are! Feeling inadequate, unimportant, or not good enough could be because:
- You bought into the belief that your dreams are too big or unrealistic.
- You had a difficult childhood or negative past experience, which makes you second-guess your abilities and harms your mental health.
- You can’t keep up with external pressure from peers in social situations or don’t fit into society’s definition of being adequate.
Thankfully, you can overcome these fears, regardless of the valid reasons behind them.
That said, here’s an approach I suggest you adopt as you learn how to get over the intense fear of not being good enough:
Pay attention to and appreciate what your fear is telling you.
In other words, don’t approach these negative emotions like you’re going into battle to permanently obliterate the fear of not being good enough. Usually, feeling “less than” isn’t something that goes away once and for all.
And if you think about it, it’s actually a good thing because the fear of being inadequate helps you take a closer look at your perceived weaknesses and failure. Think of it as an inner nudge to investigate the reason for the fear and possibly step out of your comfort zone rather than an excuse to stay stuck.
Stop Seeking Approval or Assuming Others Are Judging You
You are an amazing person, just as you are! You don’t need anyone’s approval to feel great about yourself. What others think of you doesn’t matter, and it certainly doesn’t matter if you’ve got weaknesses ― we all do!
Stop seeking others’ approval; you give others control over your life when you do that. Only seek internal approval. If you’re happy with yourself, that’s all that matters.
It is also important to stop assuming that others are judging you.
Truth is, most people are busy worrying about their inadequacies to even notice yours. That “perfect” co-worker, classmate, or neighbor may wish they were like you in some ways for all you know!
My point is: Pay more attention to yourself and less attention to others.
The more you focus on what others think of you, the bigger your worries of being inadequate or not good enough get.
A more productive use of your time would be to focus on and enjoy your life. No doubt, you may not be good at certain things, but give your all to whatever you do. This way, you are happy and satisfied with the process and outcomes, regardless of what others think.
Focus on What You Truly Want
What does it mean to be “good enough?” Is there a universal standard for what it takes to be or feel good enough?
Take some time to think about it.
If you’re being honest, it’s not hard to see that you’re comparing yourself to others or measuring yourself against some whimsical standards when trying to define “good enough.”
Comparing yourself to others only breeds envy and inferiority or distracts you from what you truly want out of life.
Like everyone else, you are on your specific life journey, so your capabilities, perspectives, and desires are unique to you. That’s to say, pitting yourself against others is completely irrelevant.
Truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all definition for being good enough.
Who you are ― your abilities and experiences ― has absolutely nothing to do with whoever anyone else is or whatever they have.
Here’s how to get over the fear of not being good enough whenever you catch yourself in unhealthy self-comparison: focus on your dreams, goals, or desires.
Ask yourself, what do I truly want? What can I do in my present condition to move me closer to what I want?
It’s okay if you think someone else’s is better than you at something or has something you like but don’t have yet. This is perfectly normal because we don’t all have the same abilities.
The good news is that anyone can improve themselves.
Instead of comparing yourself to others or feeling inferior, let their lifestyle inspire you to improve. Find out what they are doing and learn the skills that make them have what you want. See them as examples of what you want rather than your competition, and challenge yourself to move in the direction you want your life to go.
As you do this, remember the famous words of Scott Stratten, “If you’re your authentic self, you have no competition.”
Prioritize Your Well-Being
You’ll hardly feel adequate or great about yourself if you don’t maintain good physical, emotional, and mental states.
A feeling of worthiness starts from within!
While you can build confidence using the fake-it-till-you-make-it approach, pretending to be what you’re not can only take you so far. Real confidence comes from within.
Learn, practice, and build confidence by working on your well-being. Take time each day or as often as possible to de-stress. Take a warm bath, do something you love (perhaps a hobby), or listen to your favorite music. These simple practices can help you escape the stressors of life, making you feel more surefooted.
Sometimes, we get caught up in all the demanding aspects of our lives and forget to care for ourselves. We hardly make time for self-care between work, family, study, and social responsibilities.
The thing is, spreading yourself too thin isn’t particularly healthy. In fact, not knowing and honoring your limits is a major source of stress.
While it is great to live up to the expectation of the important people in your life, not giving your mind and body adequate care can take a toll on your performance, productivity, and overall well-being. It also affects how you perceive yourself.
Do What You Want Regardless of Fear
Bravery is never the absence of fear!
Franklin D. Roosevelt said it better: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
Sometimes, the best way to get over the fear of not being good enough is to face it squarely. By that, I mean taking action despite doubts.
Figure out exactly what you want and identify the thought patterns holding you back. Now, ask yourself what you would do, the changes you can bring to your life, or the amazing impact you would have on the world around you if the thought of inadequacy wasn’t stopping you.
Do you want the thoughts in your head to prevent you from going for what you really want? Which is bigger, your desires or fears?
Interestingly, you may never get the chance to do what you truly want and live the life you desire if you wait until the fear goes away to take action.
Why is that?
The fear usually doesn’t go away on its own! The best way to reduce and eventually overcome it is to take action regardless of the fear.
Focus on Facts, Not Feelings
If you feel inadequate, you probably struggle with insecurity, self-doubt, or imposter syndrome. But you must learn to separate the facts from whatever emotions are beclouding rational thinking.
Here’s an example of how to separate facts from feelings when you feel inadequate in the workplace.
You feel unqualified for a job position because you don’t have a college degree. While this may be true, that inadequate feeling is just your fear of not being good enough expressing itself through the emotion of fear.
Don’t try to ignore or muzzle it. Instead, listen to the voice, acknowledge the feeling, but focus on the facts.
And what are the facts?
In this example, your employer considers you fit for the position because of your work experience. Or you must have developed yourself through research, online courses, or other informal education efforts.
Here’s how to get over the fear of not being good enough and the negative emotions if you struggle with impostor syndrome.
Think about everything that makes you feel “less than” and write them down. Now, make a list of the facts about your life despite your feelings. Revisit your list each time you feel unimportant.
For more tips on overcoming imposter syndrome, I recommend reading these tips.
You are good enough. Don’t let anyone ― not even you ― tell you otherwise.
Yes, you may experience occasional doubts about your abilities, and yes, you may even believe you are inadequate in some ways.
But that’s just the lies your fears want you to believe. Don’t stay stuck! Instead, take action to overcome the fear.