What “You’re Not Good Enough” Really Means

16 Aug 2016

“You’re not good enough”

“You’re not good enough!” is one of those things that emotional abusers say all the time. Admittedly, they may phrase it slightly differently.  They may say: “You’re not attractive enough”, or “You’re not bright enough” or else, “You don’t deserve someone as wonderful as me.”

Since “You’re not good enough” is one of their all-time favorite phrases – which they use over and over again – they like to vary it a little.  (They would not wish to come across as a broken record – even though that is exactly what they are.)

Emotional abusers – that includes partners, parents, and others – say “You’re not good enough” for a reason.  They know it works like a charm to make you feel small and worthless. But that is just a part of the plan. The other thing that toxic little phrase “You’re not good enough” does is motivate you: it motivates you to do even more of what you were already doing.

If an emotional abuser can say, “You’re not good enough.” that must mean that he has a clear idea of what “good enough” looks like. When you finally raise your game enough to meet his finely tuned understanding of what is “good enough”, that is when you will get all the rewards of love and companionship that Mr. Good Enough ever promised you.  Allegedly.

Since you are a woman of your word, you assume that he must be a man of his word: what he promises, he will surely deliver – provided you meet his conditions.  Sadly, that is a woefully misguided assumption on two counts:

1)    It presupposes that he is a man – which he is not. Mr. Good Enough is a terminally ill-natured, overgrown, and over-indulged, toddler.

2)    You have absolutely no evidence to suggest that he is at all like you. Rather, everything about his behavior points to him belonging to a totally different species.  (He comes from Planet Zog – remember? – Planet of Extreme Nastiness.)

You should never underestimate the nastiness – or the low cunning – of an emotional abuser.  When an abuser says, “You’re not good enough.” it is a way of trying to squeeze every last drop of effort and selflessness out of you.

From where you stand, “You’re not good enough.” are the most damning words that you will ever hear, the expression of your worst fears. Therefore you will do EVERYTHING you possibly can to prove that you really are good enough.

The Syndrome of Giving Too Much

That is how emotionally abused women get stuck in the syndrome of giving too much.  As they see it, if everything that they have already given to an emotionally abusive man hasn’t been enough to soften his shriveled little heart, they will have to do more. This could be quite touching really if the heart in question were merely dehydrated. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Better to think of Mr. Good Enough’s heart as something that has been left in pickle juice for such a long time as to be beyond reconstitution.

So, when you give too much – in order to be told that you are good enough – your best efforts are doomed to failure.

You can never give enough to an emotionally abusive partner to make him happy.  You can never be good enough to make him feel less unpleasantly disposed towards you.

An emotionally abusive partner is pickled in rage and malice.  It is not in his nature to see you as good enough.  Nothing you can do will ever be good enough for him.  So he will cheerfully deny all evidence to the contrary. The whole world could tell him you are more than good enough, and he would reply: “Ah, yes. But you don’t know her like I do!”

No matter how much you do – or try to do – for Mr. Good Enough, what you do can never be good enough.

Your choices

That realization presents you with a choice.  You can:

a) Keep on doing what you have always done with him in the hope of arriving at a different result. (Yes, that is the definition of both madness and the dynamic of an emotionally abusive relationship – but that doesn’t stop you from being free to choose your own path, no matter how destructive.)

b) You can look for someone else to overgive to – in case it works better the next time around for you than it ever has in the past.

c) You can dispense with a habit that has caused you nothing but frustration and disappointment.

Emotionally abused women try to use overgiving as the antidote to being told they are not good enough.  Generosity and unselfishness are among their core values.

Emotionally abused women always give the things that they would most like to receive, unaware that, in the real world, things do not work that way.  When you give too much, you do not encourage others to give back to you. Those who are naturally inclined to give will do so spontaneously.  They do not have to be trained, shamed, or coaxed into giving back by you. While those who are naturally disinclined to give will not allow you to train, shame, or coax them to change their ways.

When someone says to you, “You’re not good enough” that statement should tell you a great deal – not about you, but about how that person sees the world.  The You-are-not-good-enough brigade views the world from a place of hostility and criticism. Their judgment justifies the emotional abuse they visit on it – in their own eyes at least. For them, you will never be good enough. For half-way decent people, you have always been good enough. You don’t even have to do anything to be good enough.

When someone says to you, “You’re not good enough” what they are really saying is that they are not big enough to see you as you truly are. Where they come from, on Planet Zog, that may be an acceptable way to behave. Here on Earth it is not. You were born good enough, and you have always been good enough. There is just no pleasing some people who are not big enough to see the good in others. That is their hell.  Don’t join them in it.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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