Feeling not good enough, or experiencing a pervasive sense of inadequacy or unworthiness, is a common struggle that many people face at some point in their lives. It is the most common feeling that I work with. This feeling can stem from various sources and can have a profound impact on one’s self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being. Here are some factors that may contribute to feeling not good enough:

Early Experiences

Childhood experiences, such as parental criticism, neglect, or invalidation, can contribute to feelings of inadequacy later in life. Children who grow up feeling unloved, unimportant, or unworthy may internalise these beliefs and carry them into adulthood.

Being compared to others

Comparing yourself to others or being compared, whether it be in terms of appearance, achievements, success, or relationships, can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy. Social media, in particular, can fuel the tendency to compare oneself to curated images of perfection, leading to unrealistic standards and a sense of never measuring up.


Striving for perfection and setting unattainably high standards for oneself can contribute to feelings of inadequacy. Perfectionists often equate their self-worth with external achievements or accomplishments, leading to a constant fear of failure or falling short of expectations.

Negative self-talk

Internalising beliefs about yourself and negative self-talk or critical messages from others can perpetuate feelings of inadequacy. Believing “I’m not good enough,” “I’m a failure,” or “I’ll never measure up,” can reinforce a negative self-image and undermine self-esteem.


Traumatic experiences, such as abuse, bullying, or loss, can erode one’s sense of self-worth and contribute to feelings of inadequacy. Trauma survivors may struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, or self-blame, leading to a pervasive sense of not being good enough.

Unrealistic expectations

Holding unrealistic expectations for oneself, such as expecting to be perfect in every aspect of life or to please everyone around them, can set individuals up for feelings of failure and inadequacy. Learning to set more realistic and compassionate expectations can help alleviate these feelings.

Overcoming feelings of not being good enough requires working with a skilled, experienced counsellor who specialises in anxiety and trauma.  I integrate person centred counselling and methods such as NLP to explore trauma (and other experiences you may not think of as trauma), which are unprocessed memories anchored by a very strong feeling you internalised as a much younger you.  Your amygdala is designed to identify the threat and the store the experience in the hippocampus forever. This belief that you are unsafe is anchored with an enhanced sensory experience (from one or more of the five senses visual, auditory, taste, smell or touch). This is a sophisticated system installed in humans for survival so that you will never put yourself in danger again.

Is it necessary to go into inner child work?

The purpose of inner child work is very effective and solution-focused work.  Rather than putting an elastoplast on a wound, we get to the source of the feeling, reframe the image or scene you are left with and you gain a whole new perspective, which then stops you being triggered.  

Feeling not good enough might seem to be from your current relationships or situations but it is coming from an inner child that internalised that belief a long time ago.  It needs to be addressed once and for all or you will attract people and situations into your life that fulfill the conditions of this belief.  By addressing the root cause, the belief you internalised a very long time ago when you were an infant; by addressing your feelings of inadequacy and learning to see yourself with kindness and acceptance, you can begin to overcome these feelings and lead a more fulfilling life.

The younger you decided this so that you would never be hurt by another person who may have the opportunity to put you down.  We are vulnerable when we start off our human life.  We have very few choices as really young infants.  If we are feeling as low as we can by choice, it feels like a shield that protects.  As we get older, we learn that the shielding pattern we have got into a long time ago is holding us back from intimacy and from having more fulfilling lives.  I use a funnel analogy to explain this, to help you gain a new perspective on why you choose to do it.  This helps you realise that your choice can instead be to empower yourself, to have counselling, change your mind and have a better life. 

Read about imposter syndrome here.