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[Short] The vicious “I’m not good enough” circle

“I’m not good enough” is a narrative that takes effects nearly everyone. It’s our best kept secret.

It takes many forms and hides in various ways.

From comparing yourself to people you’ve carefully picked to ensure they are “better” than you, through to punishing yourself for feeling normal human emotions, there are many ways we convince ourselves that we’re not good enough.

After spending decades exploring this problem, I’ve noticed that it exists as a pattern; a circular process of repeated thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

It starts with a vague sense of failure, an idea that we’re not doing enough or that we’re unsuccessful, or that we disappoint people, e.g. calling yourself “fat”.

Then comes a sense that you’re overwhelmed by the failure, and feelings of frustration, panic, shame and guilt set in, e.g. thinking you’ll never lose weight and that you’re unattractive.

Then you get a heroic urge to fix all the failures; an angry impulse to smash your shame with problem-solving actions, e.g. a sudden desire to get fit and healthy “for good this time”.

Then you go into a kind of schizophrenic high-pressure mode, becoming pummelled with ideas about how to fix all of your issues, e.g. new diet ideas, exercise plans, vices you’re going to quit etc.

You then might have a little burst of success, what I call the “Up”, where you get started on solving these problems, e.g. you do a big workout at the gym and eat a couple of healthy meals.

That burst is followed by a crash, because you’re trying to do too much too quickly, e.g. you see no immediate results, you run out of healthy meal ideas, and your muscles are aching from going too hard at the gym.

This is followed by a story of “Why bother? It’s impossible.” E.g. “No matter what I do I always stay the same weight”.

Which is followed by a binge/recovery period where you re-engage in bad behaviours, e.g. eating lots of food and quitting all forms of exercise.

And then you eventually come all the way back to feeling like a failure. Time for another round!

And all this cycle does is keep you the same… which is your secret agenda.

If you were to just stick with reasonably healthy behaviours maintained at a sustainable (boring) level, you’d actually succeed.


  • If you’ve had enough of being a not good enough victim, check out my Shamelessness course
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One Response

  1. The key to exiting this cycle is to slow down, reduce pressure, and choose one *small* and sustainable improvement to focus on for the day while keeping everything else the same.

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