8 traits of people who never feel good enough despite their success, according to psychology

Nothing you ever do or get in life will mean anything unless you can appreciate it.

That’s the trap that plenty of incredibly successful people inadvertently fall into.

They hope that the higher they climb, the better they will feel.

But that’s not what happens.

No matter how much they achieve, they don’t ever feel like it’s good enough.

The reason is down to some sneaky psychological factors that are silently playing out in the background.

It’s the following traits that are usually standing in the way of finding contentment…

1) They set themselves up to fall short by having unrealistic standards

Aka, they are perfectionists.

When you set impossible standards for yourself you are always going to be left frustrated.

The obvious problem with striving for flawlessness is that it can never be achieved. It’s the mythical gold at the end of the rainbow.

And continuing to chase it steals away your peace of mind, as Harvard Summer School reminds us:

“Because those with perfectionist tendencies focus so much on working to make everything perfect, they are likely to experience more dissatisfaction and disappointment in their everyday lives. Constantly thinking “I’m not good enough” can steal the joy from experiences.”

Sadly, all too often, perfectionists do not see the damage they are doing to themselves.

They mistakenly think that accepting only the best will drive better standards. But really, this overly demanding approach just leaves them with deep feelings of inadequacy.

2) They can’t help but compare themselves to what everyone else is doing

So-called comparisonitus seems all the more rife in our online era of living.

It’s so much harder to stay in your lane and focus on yourself when what everyone else is doing is thrust in your face.

Along with social media, it became commonplace for everyone to humble brag and present the glossiest possible image of their lives to the outside world.

Of course, 99% of it is just a skewed snapshot of reality, but that doesn’t make it any less envy-inducing.

Career and leadership coach Kathy Caprino reminds us that others’ success should only ever be used to spur us on in positive ways:

“The most important thing to understand is that there is a huge difference in energy and outcome between seeing other people’s success and using that vision to inspire you, versus beating yourself up mercilessly because you’re not where they are. If comparison makes you feel worthless and demoralized, unable to get what you want and “deserve,” and you resent others for what they have, it’s time to stop comparing or shift your approach to it.”

Rather than seek inspiration and motivation from others’ achievements, people who never feel good enough often engage in excessive comparison.

This only leads to feelings of inferiority. Part of the reason, as we’re about to see, is that they focus on what they lack rather than what they have.

3) They fail to recognize their many blessings

Nobody has it all. Fact.

Every road leads us all to different places. Sometimes we must make choices that prioritize one thing over another. Sacrifice is a part of success. 

If you insist on spending most of your time thinking about what you want more of it’s very difficult to feel contentment.

That’s not to say we cannot strive. Growth demands that we are spurred on by a desire to expand.

Sometimes successful people may fear that contentment will breed complacency. But what is certain is that success without any feelings of satisfaction is worthless.

The antidote is gratitude.

Rather than make you complacent, being thankful for all you already have can offer you the extra enthusiasm to keep going.

After all, it’s been shown to increase positive emotions, enhance resilience, and reduce stress and anxiety.

As resilience research scientist Jeff Thompson explains, it’s not about whitewashing over the bad, it’s just about leaning on the good to help see you through.

“Gratitude practices are not intended to minimize any hardships you have experienced or are still going through…Gratitude practices help you manage these tough times and remind you that if you stop and pause, there is still good all around us and it is happening each day.”

4) When their hard work pays off, they don’t feel like they deserve it and suffer imposter syndrome

People who lack empathy frequently say these phrases without realizing their impact 8 traits of people who never feel good enough despite their success, according to psychology

Imposter syndrome is another trait seen in people who never feel good enough.

As highlighted by Psychology Today, it can be a very widespread phenomenon.

“Around 25 to 30 percent of high achievers may suffer from imposter syndrome. And around 70 percent of adults may experience impostorism at least once in their lifetime, research suggests.”

The funny thing is that this self-doubt tends to plague the most competent and high-achieving individuals the most.

But perhaps that makes some sense when you consider research found it’s the people with

limited capability who are prone to overestimating their abilities.

Humility can go a long way in helping you to stay open to growth.

Yet, when it takes hold, imposter syndrome can be paralyzing.

They believe their success is due to luck or deception. So they ultimately feel like a fraud despite their accomplishments.

Rather than improving their skills, improving their self-image is what is required.

5) They focus on their flaws and failures

People who never feel good enough are really hard on themselves and so they can be their own worst enemy.

That inner critic is often strong in these types of people.

Rather than recognize effort, they chastise a lack of progress.

Instead of seeing setbacks as inevitable, they beat themselves up about them.

If we are going to be successful, it’s true that we have to acknowledge our weaknesses and work on them.

But when we hone in on them too much and forget our strengths in the process, we end up blowing them out of proportion.

This tendency to focus exclusively on the bad usually goes hand in hand with our next trait.

6) Their glass is half-empty

The lens we look through in life taints everything — for good and for bad.

Negativity, by those who engage in it, is often perceived by them as healthy realism.

But the truth is that being both positive and realistic will serve us much better.

As Andrzej Smiech points out in Forbes, the evidence is clear:

“Subsequent studies have shown that positive emotions lead to higher motivation and perseverance, satisfactory quality of interpersonal relations and more frequent functioning at the optimal level, which in turn translates into better personal and professional results. On the other hand, pessimism can generate anxiety, which leads to lower engagement, distracted attention and poorer results. “

7) They overthink and it leads to worry and rumination

Some of the world’s most sensitive and intelligent people fall foul of overthinking.

That high-functioning brain is to thank for a lot of their success. Yet it can be difficult to switch off.

When it goes into overdrive, it can turn on you creating stress and anxiety.

You may end up trying to “fix” problems that don’t even exist. Or you spend time fretting about scenarios that haven’t happened yet.

This hypervigilance about the future robs you of being able to enjoy the success you have in the present.

Similarly, rumination about things gets you caught up in unhelpful loops, where you incessantly play the same negative content over and over again in your mind.

8) They feel like they have something to prove because deep inside they have low self-esteem

phrases you can use to handle difficult people in a firm but tactful way 8 traits of people who never feel good enough despite their success, according to psychology

Much like people pleasers, a lot of high achievers are also looking for external validation.

The reason is simple:

Inside they don’t feel good enough.

They’re looking to prove to the world and themselves that they are worthy. But because they have shaky self-belief they struggle to internalize their successes.

Alice Boyes Ph.D., speaking in Psychology Today, says this can be a hidden challenge for many people who never feel good enough despite their success:

“Many high-achievers who have low self-worth fail to recognize they’re waging an internal battle. High achievers sometimes recognize their competencies and skills but don’t feel a sense of inherent self-worth that’s separate from those. They see their worth as contingent on their achievements.”

Perhaps they attribute their accomplishments to external factors. Or they’re terrified that if they take their foot off the gas for even one second, they’ll lose it all.

This negative self-image ends up casting a shadow on everything you should be proud of yourself for accomplishing in life.

That’s why, our final thoughts in this article serve as a reminder that negative self-perception always undermines our sense of worth.

A lot of success rests on self-perception

Whenever success is discussed, it’s often done so as if there is a strict definition of what that even looks like.

But the truth is that there are both external and internal markers of it.

You can have all the external markers in the world — in the form of wealth, status, and prestige — but you’ll never feel successful unless you have those internal markers too.

Happiness and life satisfaction rest heavily on our self-perception.

It demands that we can notice the positives in our lives and within ourselves.

That’s why success needs to come alongside self-awareness and self-love for it to have the positive impact we want it to.

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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