"I'm not good enough": Why we criticise ourselves so much and how to stop

In the fast-paced and competitive world of business, the drive for success often comes hand-in-hand with self-criticism. The inner dialogue that whispers, "I'm not good enough," can be a pervasive force that hinders professional growth and stifles innovation.

For some, “I’m not good enough” makes its presence clearly felt, but for most of us we aren’t even aware that we are carrying around this belief as it sits deep within our unconsciousness.

So how do we know if we have this belief and how does it show up in our thoughts and behaviours?

Are you an achiever in life? Maybe you have had great success, and yet while you are proud of your accomplishment you are always looking for the next result to achieve. Moments of peace and happiness in your life are fleeting because you are always striving for external validation and success. Your need to be successful may well stem from the need to prove your worth; that you are good enough. Or do you constantly please others and put your own needs last? If this is the case, you might believe that you need to put the needs of others first to be a “good” person. Is it easier to look after others than to focus on whether you are good enough?

Some of these behaviours will resonate with us all to some degree and they definitely don’t feel great when they are dominant in our thoughts.

So the key question here is how can you change an automatic unconscious behaviour? It sounds impossible.

It’s not impossible but it does take some time and effort. And it doesn’t matter how old you are either. We are never too old to change!

Here are 5 steps to changing the “I’m not good enough” self-criticism

  1. Consider how you might be playing out “I’m not good enough” in your day-to-day life.

Which situations do you feel resistant to or challenged by? These can be good indications of places to start looking.

  1. Observe the thoughts that sit on top of the belief.

Once you’ve identified times when you feel not good enough ask yourself “What am I believing about myself in this moment?”. As this article is all about not being good enough go straight to that. “Do I believe I am not good enough in this situation?”. There are other limiting beliefs that it could also be e.g. I’m not worthy – so see if you can identify the belief.

  1. Choose a different response

Without conscious awareness of your behaviours and their underlying response, you will have an unconscious automatic response to any situation that feels similar. But with awareness of the limiting belief that sits underneath the behaviour the possibility to choose a different response opens. So, ask yourself “If I were good enough, what action would I take in this moment?”. And if it’s too hard to see yourself taking this action, imagine someone you admire and what they would do!

  1. Develop a positive affirmation that counterbalances the “I’m not good enough” way of thinking.

Take the behaviour that you demonstrate when the limiting belief is playing out. E.g. “When I have a work deadline, I keep on reviewing my work until the last possible moment until I am 100% confident that there are no errors.”

Then completely reverse this coming from a place of being good enough. E.g. “When I have a word deadline, I trust that I will deliver it to a high standard and hand it in confidently. When there are mistakes, I accept them graciously in the knowledge that I am human!”

Practice saying this regularly so that new neural pathways can develop and become the overriding belief.

  1. Develop a mindfulness practice.

Alongside greater awareness developing a regular mindfulness practice helps you to learn to be more present. The more we can slow down and be aware of the moment, the easier it becomes to develop a reflex to choose a different, more mindful response when life throws its inevitable challenges at you. This is not about having a life without challenge, it is about choosing to not let life’s challenges hold you back!

Ultimately, the path to success in the business world is paved with self-belief and a commitment to continual growth. By dispelling the myth of not being good enough, professionals can unlock their true capabilities and contribute meaningfully to their organisations, creating a more resilient and empowered workforce. As the business arena continues to evolve, so too should our mindset – one that champions excellence, perseverance, and a steadfast belief in one's own worth.