As much as I would like to say that I have everything together in my life, that's often not the case. I often feel very inadequate.
I'm guessing you might feel the same way too. There are times when we all think that everything seems to be doing much better. You're a student, and you're rejoicing over passing a challenging exam, only to see the person sitting next to you gloating about how they got a perfect score. You're going through a breakup and begin seeing picture-perfect couples everywhere. You drive your ten-year-old car to the supermarket, only to see a shiny new Porsche parked next to it when you leave.
You might be thinking that there's something wrong with you because everyone else seems to have their lives together. But be assured, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Despite outward appearances indicating the contrary, more likely than not those people you think have it all going for them are feeling entirely inadequate themselves.
Every single person on this planet is going through periods like these. Insecurity and vulnerability are a natural part of human nature. It might be even more prevalent these days thanks to social media (which you can curb with the help of the Practical Good Social Media Cleanup Course). Some people hide it very well. Others wear their vulnerabilities on their sleeve for the whole world to see. We all have a desire to feel secure at all times. If someone honestly doesn't ever feel insecure, that's a sign of a personality disorder such as narcissism.
You shouldn't feel bad for feeling incompetent, though. The good news is that having a healthy dose of self-doubt will help you manage your well being. When you feel insecure, you can be introspective and think about why you believe these fallacies. It builds motivation to seek something better for yourself. As long as you don't let those feelings consume you, you can use them for massive action and improvement in your life.
How to deal with feeling inadequate
Despite knowing that the feeling of insecurity is typical for everyone, there are times when it feels like too much of a burden. You might even think that there's no way you'll be able to deal with this. There are a few ways to change your thinking to help you not only overcome the feelings but to use them as fuel to support your growth.
Don't focus on not being there now, focus on not being there yet
People often limit themselves by thinking about the times they haven't accomplished whatever they set out to do, leading them to quit. For example, someone who's learning a new language stops studying because they're unable to hold a conversation with someone in that new language, or someone quits going to the gym because they just can't lose the amount of weight they want. This way of thinking is often referred to as a fixed mindset. Having a fixed mindset holds you back you because you believe that there's a predetermined limit to what you can do and that you can't ever change that limit.
What you should be doing instead is focusing on cultivating a growth mindset - the mentality that you can expand your talents to a limitless degree. By having a growth mindset will allow you to go through the effort and process needed to reach your goals since you'll know that you can get what you want.
Build your personal definition of success
These days, you're being led to feelings of inadequacy everywhere you look. Advertisements are built upon this premise, to make you feel like you lack something to make your life better. Television and movies contain unrealistic plots that make you wonder why you do not have experiences like what's shown on screen. Everyone on social media posts their best moments, leading you to think that your life is boring and mundane.
To combat this, you need to start by getting clear about what your personal definition of success is. And it has to come from within you - not your parents, not your spouse, not your friends, nobody. You need to decide what will make you feel like you're living a full life. It doesn't matter if it's not as grandiose as you think it needs to be. If success for you is being able to spend more time at home with your family or being able to have a hobby you can maintain, do what you can to achieve it regardless of what others say, or you think they'll say. Give yourself the happiness you want.
Give yourself a break and be your authentic self
More often than not, everyone feels the need to be perfect every time they're in the public view. Some people work too many extra hours to handle a project because you think that's what's they think is expected, or some people can't go outside to check their mailbox without getting dressed and fix their hair. Regardless of the reason, whenever you think that you have to always be at your best, you're subconsciously telling yourself that you're inadequate. It gets exhausting quickly.
You should never feel the need to be "on" at all times. Everyone deserves a break to cut some slack and get a pass at being just as they are. Be yourself. If you think that you always need to be your best because people won't accept you or like you for who you are, that's a sign that you need to be somewhere better for yourself. No one deserves to have to work extra-hard to be accepted.
Small tips for your Practical Good
If inadequacy has its hold on you and you want to loosen its grip, here are a couple of tips you can begin implementing in your daily life to go from feeling inadequate to feeling sufficient and competent.
- Use the power of the word 'yet': If you're in the middle of attempting something new, practice saying I can't do _____ yet. By adding the word 'yet,' your brain will begin shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, helping you continue working hard on achieving your goals. Psychologist Carol Dweck has a great TED Talk that explains why the word 'yet' is so powerful.
- Figure out what success means to you: Ask yourself the question What do I want to do with my life? and answer it honestly and truthfully without any outside influence. The answer to this question will help lead you to what a successful life means to you. Use it to start building a plan to guide you to your personal success.