Defectiveness - "I'm not good enough"

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If you have the defectiveness schema, you’re likely to be all too familiar with feelings of shame. On the surface, you may appear to be the kind of person who is relatively relaxed and confident… But really, this is just a facade. 

Deep down you feel inadequate. You have the sense that there’s something wrong with you. Not just on a surface level, in terms of how you behave or the way you look - but right at your core.

You put on a front to the outside world in an attempt to hide this part of yourself. But this defence comes with an undercurrent of anxiety. You fear that one day you’ll be found out. And when people see the real you, they’ll run as fast as they can.

Why do I feel like I'm not good enough?

This schema usually develops when we’ve been bullied, criticised, rejected or abused by those around us growing up. 

You may have had a critical or demanding parent who heaped pressure on you, ridiculed you or made you feel like you weren’t good enough. Or perhaps you were bullied and got this same message from peers or siblings instead.

But your experiences could have been more subtle. Perhaps your parents simply gave you “a look” when you expressed your true self. You could just sense their disappointment.

See if any of the following sound familiar to you:

“What’s wrong with you?”

“You should be ashamed of yourself”

“Why can’t you do anything right?”

“That’s just not good enough”

“Why can’t you be more like <a friend/sibling>?”

“You’re so lazy”

“You did well but you could do better"

“Your friends don’t do that”

“I’m disappointed in you”

You have likely internalised these voices. You have a strong, shaming inner critic. It has a habit of calling you out and making you feel bad about yourself. As horrible as this voice is, it actually helped you at one time. By echoing these opinions, you were able to keep yourself small and “in check”, saving yourself from further criticism. 

By accepting that there was something wrong with you, it hurt less when people told you so.

The problem is that this voice isn’t you. It’s simply a collection of (very outdated) voices from your past. Its views are distorted, unfair and untrue. And by sending you into shame spirals, it’s keeping you stuck in the pain of your past.

Signs you have this schema:

  • You are your own biggest critic
  • You have a tendency to self-deprecate and put yourself down
  • You feel like an imposter a lot of the time
  • You allow people to mistreat you in your relationships
  • You often put the people you date on a pedestal
  • You may externalise your inner self-criticism by also being critical of your appearance - wanting to change perceived “flaws”
  • Deep down you feel unlovable

What you get from our Relationship Report

Deep relationship insights - uncover hidden patterns shaping your connections, rooted in evidence-based therapy.

Personalised guidance - get tailored strategies to improve communication, understand behaviours and fulfil emotional needs, all backed by research.

Actionable steps for growth - gain practical advice and steps to reshape relationship patterns and build a more satisfying love life.

Unlock your Relationship Report