Why am I not good enough? 7 reasons you feel this way

“Why am I not good enough?” I asked him.

I sat there in silence, embarrassed to have even asked the question.

Sitting before me was the legendary shaman Rudá Iandê. He was the kind of guy I desperately wanted to be more like. Completely at ease with himself. Not needing the approval of anyone else to live the life he really wanted to live.

Rudá is someone who dances in life to the tune of his own drum.

IMG 3653 1 scaled Why am I not good enough? 7 reasons you feel this way

“Why can’t I be more like him?” I silently wondered to myself. “How can I accept myself just the way I am?”

Rudá suddenly laughed.

“It’s simple to feel like you’re good enough,” he told me. “You just need to find a way to connect with your true source of authenticity and creativity.”

Simple, right?

At the time, his words were a little abstract. But over the next few months, everything clicked into place for me.

I was able to connect with my authenticity when I moved my way through Rudá Iandê’s online course, Out of the Box. This is where Rudá has put together his most profound teachings in a very accessible and easy-to-digest series of video and written lessons, along with challenges and exercises to make the teachings more practical.

After integrating these teachings into my life, I’ve become comfortable with myself just the way I am. I no longer ask why I’m not good enough.

The difference in my mindset is profound.

In this article, I’m going to share seven of the most important life lessons I’ve learned about what makes us feel like we’re not good enough. I’ll share quotes from Out of the Box to support each lesson.

Keep reading, and by the end of this article, you’ll have taken some important steps forward in the path to complete and radical self-acceptance.

Let’s begin.

1) Becoming your greatest ally

When you ask why you’re not good enough, you’re usually criticizing yourself.

I’ve always been my own worst critic. There’s a constant monologue in my mind where I judge myself for everything I’m doing.

But here’s where it gets a little crazy.

I know that judging myself so harshly isn’t good for me. So I’ll get annoyed with myself that I’m judging myself.

I could never break the cycle. Somehow I couldn’t figure out how to outwit myself.

This is where Rudá Iandê’s teachings are very powerful. His online course, Out of the Box, doesn’t ask you to fight against the monologue inside your head.

It’s different than most other self-development courses.

Rather, Rudá explains that the games we play in our minds are completely natural. What really matters is how we react to it.

“Observe the games of your mind with detachment,” he says in the lesson titled “Duality and Shadow” in Module 1 of Out of the Box. He continues:

“You cannot change your emotions, but you can change your attitude. You don’t need to meditate for hours trying to overcome a negative emotion even if you feel terrible about what you feel. Nor do you need to punish yourself for everything that you do wrong. Maybe you can save some money by doing less psychotherapy and start having fun observing your madness instead.”

This was a crucial lesson for me to learn.

As someone who’s been embracing self-development for almost one decade, I felt guilty for my shadow side. I didn’t like that I judge myself so harshly. It frustrated me that I felt insecure at key moments in my life.

Giving up on being my worst critic didn’t mean to stop the self-judging. It was about accepting that I would continue to judge myself without trying to fight against it.

As Rudá Iandê says:

“Understand this: there’s nothing wrong with you. Let me say that again: there’s nothing wrong with you. Even the game of right and wrong is fine if you don’t fully engage in it. The less you engage in trying to fix what can’t be fixed, the deeper you can observe, sharpening and empowering your consciousness.

“Making this a habit is like building a new home. You empower this neutral aspect of yourself— your silent and contemplative consciousness. And you can reside in this consciousness.”

2) Breaking free from the shackles of ambition

“It doesn’t matter how much you achieve; you’ll always feel oppressed by the myth of success. It happens because there’s a deep feeling implanted in your subconscious. The real message transmitted is not that you must reach success to feel good. The subliminal message is that you are not good enough the way you are, and what you have accomplished in life is not enough.”
– Rudá Iandê, “Success” in Module 1, Out of the Box

I was walking along a beautiful mountain trail with a new friend the other day and she said something very insightful.

She told me that she’s been with men whose ambition has oppressed them.

And when they’re unable to realize their ambition, they’ve taken it out on her.

It was an interesting statement and it got me thinking about my previous life as an entrepreneur.

In the early days of Ideapod, I was possessed by the dream of building the next big thing. I wanted Ideapod to become a globally influential and wildly popular social network for ideas.

I wanted to be just like Richard Branson, one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. My ambition was even fuelled by his interest in Ideapod.

Justin Brown and Richard Branson at Necker Island, 2015.
Richard Branson expressed interest in investing in Ideapod in 2015 when I was a guest at Necker Island.

The problem for me was that my vision of success became deeply implanted in my subconscious, just as Rudá Iandê explains in his video on success in module 1 of Out of the Box.

Deep down, I had the belief that I wasn’t “good enough” as an entrepreneur unless I became successful at the scale of someone like Richard Branson.

I’d made the mistake of aligning my ambition with a future state rather than how I wanted to contribute to others in my present reality.

Out of the Box helped me to rethink my ambition and align it with the kinds of contributions I was able to make in that present moment.

Instead of thinking I was only “good enough” by achieving worldwide recognition, I focused on helping people with the tools I had at my disposal.

At this time, I started blogging on Ideapod about the power of ideas, along with my brother, Lachlan Brown.

We focused on writing useful and informative articles about self-development, mindset, culture, politics and society.

It wasn’t sexy like building the world’s next big social network. But it was grounded, practical and useful to people. And it slowly grew.

Thanks to the Out of the Box teachings, my ambition fuels the way I’m working every single day. I’m not interested in reaching a grand and imaginary goal in the future. I simply want to keep on contributing as best as I can, helping others to unshackle themselves from their myths of success so they feel like they’re enough just the way they are.

3) Giving up on perfectionism to bring creativity to life

“The ideal of perfection casts a dark shadow over our lives. The quest for perfection suffocates and paralyzes us, and it takes our creative power away. It’s in our nature to be always evolving, trying to do better and more every day. But it’s important to understand that this is a journey with no destination. You can do it step-by-step with a sense of humility.”
– Rudá Iandê, “Perfection” in Module 1, Out of the Box

As the shaman Rudá Iandê says in Out of the Box, the ideal of perfection casts a very dark shadow over our lives.

It stops so many of us from feeling like we’re good enough.

Here are some examples of perfectionism:

  • Wanting your first book to be a bestseller
  • Having a good career by the time you’re 30
  • Picturing a perfect marriage full of love without any challenges
  • Creating artwork that influencers millions
  • Becoming a billion-dollar entrepreneur

On the face of it, it seems like the desire to be perfect can be very motivating. The vision we hold in our minds moves us forward.

But perfectionism can easily become a sickness. It can destroy our creativity.

Perfectionism becomes a sickness when it keeps you stuck in place, unable to get started because you know your first attempt won’t even be close to what you’ve envisaged in your mind.

When you hold a perfect vision for your life in your mind, you can easily end up loathing yourself, constantly critical of yourself for not being good enough.

In Out of the Box, Rudá Iandê shares the powerful insight that nature never arrives at a finished or “perfect” state. It’s always in motion, changing from one moment to the next.

Nature is perfectly imperfect.

It’s essential that we see ourselves in the same way. We are perfectly imperfect, and we always will be.

Our perfect visions can never be realized. All we can do is embrace the imperfection of getting started, of moving forward, step by step, from one mistake to the next.

What matters more than the vision of perfection is enjoying the struggle.

YouTube video

In the video above, I share my journey in giving up on the fantasy of perfection. Crucial to me was understanding my values, aligning my life around them, and working with people who enjoy the journey.

Now, the people I work with enjoy the journey for what it is.

None of us question whether we’re good enough or not. We accept ourselves just the way we are.

Giving up on perfectionism has been key for me to feel like I’m enough just the way I am.

4) Letting go of desires to manifest what you really want

I used to be lost in my desires.

I’d think constantly about what I really wanted in life, creating vision boards and trying to align my feelings with my desires.

The problem was that I became lost in my daydreaming. My desires became more important than what I was experiencing in that moment.

Rudá Iandê explains it well in Out of the Box:

“Maybe you think you have a thirst for new experiences, adventure, and exploration. The reason you spend so much time lost in your big dreams is that you desire to live a full, exciting life. Meanwhile, you have a life that you’re not living to the fullest right now because you prefer to live in your imaginary future. This isn’t dreaming; it’s escapism. You’re rejecting the real experience of life and instead searching for a refuge in the idyllic lands of your imagination.”
– Rudá Iandê, “Mental masturbation and escapism” in Module 4, Out of the Box

How many times have you felt like you’re not good enough because your desires haven’t been realized?

Does your desire for a good career make you feel bad about the job you currently have?

Do you wish you had a perfect relationship and it stops you from appreciating the person who is trying their best to be with you, even when things become difficult?

I was guilty of these things and much more.

The teachings in Out of the Box showed me how to let go of my desires in an empowering way.

It’s not about giving up on everything you want in life.

Rather, it’s about learning to identify that the things you desire are already present.

I explain how to do this in my YouTube video below.

YouTube video

5) Living your purpose in a wildly unexpected way

“As you pursue your highest purpose in life, have the humility to appreciate the little miracles you create in your daily life: the people you touch with your presence, the lives you are capable of enriching. Play your role and let life play its part, too. Believe in your fate.”
– Rudá Iandê, “Purpose x Dreams” in Module 4, Out of the Box

A study by a team of Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that if you feel you have a higher sense of purpose in life – defined as having meaning, a sense of direction, and related goals – you’re more likely to remain healthy and physically strong as you grow older.

Other studies by the study’s lead researcher have found that a higher sense of purpose correlates with a reduced risk of disability, stroke, heart disease, sleep issues and other health problems.

The Harvard researchers noted that, since your sense of purpose can evolve or grow, making sure that you develop yours can improve “not only mental health but physical function as well.”

The problem is that it’s very difficult to manufacture having a purpose. You can’t exactly choose a purpose that is going to light your fire and make you feel alive.

I was faced with this problem when I visited Rudá Iandê in Brazil many years ago. I knew it was important to have a purpose in life. But I felt like I didn’t know what it was.

Not knowing my purpose made me feel deflated. It made me think the struggle to grow my business and live a good life wasn’t worth the effort.

And these constant struggles made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.

Then Rudá Iandê explained to me the common mistake that many people make around defining their life purpose. He said that most people visualize achieving their purpose as some kind of future state.

They visualize achieving more, being more successful, or even contributing to others something they’ll achieve in the future.

In short, they create objects in their minds about achieving their purpose.

Instead, we can see that our purpose exists as the emotions behind our dreams. We can learn to see that we’ve always been living our purpose.

As Rudá says:

“Take a good look at your goals, and you’ll find that what you’re really pursuing are certain feelings. You want to achieve your goal so that you can feel a certain way. You want to quit your job and travel the world so that you can feel free and expansive. You want to be a millionaire so that you can feel the freedom and power that millions of dollars could bring to your life. You might dream of being at the top of your profession in order to feel a sense of respect and recognition from yourself and others. You probably want to feel that you’re not only valuable but exceptional. If you dream of marriage and a beautiful family, you’re probably pursuing feelings of love, companionship, and stability.”

6) Achieving your dreams by rejecting the dreams of others

“Some dreams can be programmed into your mind as a way to make you subservient to purposes that are not your own. Family, religion, education, and media often work to effectively brainwash and enslave you, offering only a limited set of prepackaged dreams for you to choose from. These kinds of dreams don’t resonate in your core. They don’t wake up your power and excitement for life. Instead, they exhaust you and drain your energy. A dream that isn’t yours gives you satisfaction in the moment and frustration in the long run, always making you feel inadequate for not living the life you’re “supposed to” live.”
– Rudá Iandê, “The emotions behind your dreams” in Module 4, Out of the Box

The message that “you’re not good enough” has been drilled into us from a very early age.

Think about how the advertising system works.

We’re constantly told that we’re not enough the way we are. We’re broken and can only be “fixed” by purchasing something.

The antidote is learning how to identify the dreams that are preprogrammed into you and the dreams that are truly your own.

How do you know the difference?

Your real dreams resonate deeply in your core. They light you up and nourish you in the journey to achieving them.

It’s important that we work towards achieving dreams that are authentic, coming from our core. Otherwise, we risk feeling exhausted and frustrated, continually feeling like we’re not good enough in life.

7) Giving up on being a “good” person

“The belief in our basic goodness is one of the evil things at the core of our mythological constructions. The idea that we are all ‘fundamentally good’—that we are perfect and pure at our core—not only breeds violence in communities and societies, but also creates divisions and violence within ourselves. It does this by producing tremendous guilt. You end up denying the ‘bad’ part of yourself and putting all your energy into fighting against your shadows. The Good Person you’re ‘supposed to be’ oppresses and suffocates your true, messy, and imperfect self.”
– Rudá Iandê, “Basic goodness” in Module 1, Out of the Box

I’m not a good person.

There, I said it.

It’s not the easiest thing to say, as we’ve been conditioned for most of our lives to be “good”.

But if you really want to feel like you’re enough just the way you are, one very effective approach is to give up on trying to be good in the first place.

It may sound a little crazy. But bear with me for just a moment.

Who gets to define the parameters on what it means to be “good”?

We grow up being told to be good kids by our parents and teachers. We’re urged to get good grades so we can get good jobs and become good employees.

In a relationship, we try to be a good boyfriend or girlfriend, and eventually a good partner in marriage.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to be a good person. But there is something wrong when we judge ourselves against unrealistic standards of what it means to be “good” in the first place.

I recently came to the realization that believing in my fundamental goodness was making me unhappy. Because the reality is that sometimes I do “good” things. Other times I behave “badly”.

And believing in my fundamental goodness simply fueled the visions of perfection and grandeur I had for myself.

Accepting that I have a shadow side and that I’m full of imperfections was essential for me feeling enough just the way I am.

It’s thanks to the teachings of Out of the Box that I finally came to terms with who I am deep down. I’m much happier for it and am living a much better life.

Check out my recent video on giving up on being a good person below. I begin the video with a simple question where you can figure out if you’re fundamentally a good person or not.

Within the first minute or so you’ll know whether you’re a good or a bad person.

YouTube video


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Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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