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You Know You're Good Enough, So Why Don't You Believe It? Highly successful people often know intellectually that they are not failures, but truly believing it is another matter. A psychologist explains why.

By Frances Dodds Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the September 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

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Krista Regedanz is a psychologist in Palo Alto who specializes in working with business leaders. She often sees them struggle with distressful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors — thinking they're not good enough, or that they're failures — particularly at the nexus of an accomplishment, like a round of fund-raising, or when they're teetering on the verge of burnout.

"A lot of the intellectually astute people I work with come to me knowing, on paper, that they are not a failure, that they are good enough, normal, OK, or free," she says. "And yet, there is a sense that these positive thoughts are not believable."

How, then, can people bridge that gap? Regedanz says it's important to grasp the difference between implicit and explicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is consciously learned and can be verbally articulated, like knowing the capital of Alaska. Implicit knowledge is unconsciously learned as a felt sense, like riding a bike. Our emotional reactions are learned implicitly through formative experiences, which makes it hard to unlearn them through rational thinking alone.

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