What should you do when you don’t feel good enough?

Three signs pointing in opposite directions secure-unsafe, valued-useless, included-outcast

One of the reasons that you may be in conflict with others leading to disputes may have to do with your view of self. In his new book, The Extraordinary Gift of Being Ordinary, Dr. Ronald Siegel of the Harvard Medical School, shares that everyone has doubts about themselves and so does he. You have continual self-evaluative thoughts. This is normal. However, rather than proving yourself he offers ideas and tips to address “not feeling good enough” and how you can build a better self. This ties into the Yale University course on happiness too. These ideas are introduced in this article.


Self-evaluation and feeling good about yourself


In an article from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley entitled What to Do When You Never Feel Good Enough by Kira Newman she offers insights on not feeling good enough. She addresses self-evaluation and how to feel better about yourself based on Siegel’s book. What follows are key elements from her article in this section.


Self-evaluation and why it hurts


Our brains are hard wired to compare ourselves with others. It once was needed simply for survival. It may have even meant death to be ostracized from the group. Today the focus is on grades, looks, how much money you earn, being with the in crowd and other issues. For teenagers peer pressure can be very intense. Perhaps other values may relate to being in on things, feeling educated, and being good enough at what you do as a parent, co-worker, spouse, relative, friend or neighbor. When you try to be all things to all people this can be exhausting. You may want to try and prove to others how good you are, but she points out that does not work either.

Research shows that those that pursue fame, power, wealth, and beauty are more anxious and depressed compared to those that focus on internal growth, relationships, and helping others.

My father pointed out to me a long time ago, to always strive to be better and enhance your skills, but be aware even if you are the champion, someone will always come along that will be better than you. You need to accept that. Strive for personal accomplishment, but what matters even more is connecting with others. Instead of judging yourself, simply enjoy life. Practice gratitude daily and kindness towards others.


What do you need to do to feel good about yourself?


According to Siegel you simply need to shift from yourself to others. Building relationships with compassion, empathy, forgiveness and reflecting on gratitude makes all the difference. All to often the interaction is about impressing the other party. That is not what you need to do to feel better about yourself.

The analogy is offered of a good parent who loves you no matter what. You can apply that to yourself.

No matter what you are a valued human being. You are still accountable. You will fall short sometimes. That is natural. It is what you do when you fall short that matters. Stop, reflect, grieve, if necessary, then refresh, reconsider, take appropriate steps going forward. Accept yourself for who you are and move on. You want to separate your evaluation of self from your sense of worth.

What are your core values? Others influence you and impact you, but inside you are a decent, caring, considerate person. Knowing who you are says a lot about you. Everyone needs to move out of their comfort zone sometimes. He suggests try something imperfect like “missing an exit on the highway, singing in public, or getting dressed up to leave the house.” We all have a yin and yang inside of us. That is:

  • Smart and dumb
  • Conscientious  and lazy
  • Skilled and inept
  • Adored and rejected
  • Brave and cowardly
  • Clever and simpleminded
  • Patient and impulsive

We need to accept that we all experience these and other comparisons at various times.

You are human. Part of the human condition is making mistakes. Learn from them. Do not beat yourself up with feedback. Move ahead with feedforward of what was learned and what you can do next time. You are in a state of constant flux. Connecting with others will help you overcome your self-doubts. Everyone else no matter how it looks is just moving along like you and we are all in this together.


Course on Happiness at Yale


This is how to be happy at work and life according to the Yale Course on Happiness.  The five key points to the course are:

  1. Gratitude every day – consider reflecting on what you are grateful for at the start of your day
  2. Label negative feelings – keep a journal or open a Word Document and write down what you think when you receive that nasty email from someone
  3. Make the decision good enough – this will be elaborated on below and ties into this over all commentary
  4. Appropriate touch with others – a fist bump, a high five, a hand shake and if necessary, make this virtual
  5. Mindfulness 10 minutes a day – start slow and consider prayer, reflection, meditation and/or yoga


Focus on making the decision good enough


Having spoken to a group of C-suite executives when it came to number 3 on “Make the decision good enough” a participant responded that at one point when asked by his superior if they were ready to go or not, he responded with “its good enough”. That was not acceptable to his boss. His boss said if it is only good enough, you need to do more. Being good enough was not acceptable. Having heard this, I offered a slightly different perspective. What if you could tell yourself “I made the best decision I could with what I have and know?’ A response back to the boss may have been something like, “we are ready.” From your perspective you were ready. This article is all about what you should do when you do not feel good enough. In this case the boss pushed back.

After hanging up with the boss, who just pushed you into feeling you were not good enough, stop, reflect, do not take it personally, and reaffirm where you are coming from.

Is there something else I could do now, or is the situation is as good as it will be, and I need to simply accept that I have done the best I could? I need to give myself a pat on the back and move on if I have done the best I could under the circumstances. You cannot do better than your best. It really is good enough.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]