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Combating Feelings of Inadequacy


We have all been there before and have had the feeling. No matter how untrue it is, we have all, at some point felt like we weren’t good enough. Maybe you have a little voice inside your head saying, “You aren’t smart enough to do this job”, or “you are a bad parent,” or even “that outfit doesn’t look good on you.”  Feelings of inadequacy are common among adults and adolescents.  Your inner voice and how you talk to yourself has an effect on how much you accomplish, your happiness, and your quality of life.  Positive breeds positive, negative breeds negative. Making sure your inner voice is working for you during those moments of feelings of insecurity and inadequacy is how you can maintain a positive attitude. Here are some steps to help combat feelings of inadequacy.

First, acknowledge the feeling, which is sometimes difficult to do.  As humans, we do not like to see ourselves as less than others, less than our best, less than how we want others to see us.  Drawing attention to the feeling of inadequacy or even speaking it aloud can be painful.  However, this step is vital. When you speak the feeling aloud or write it down, you can begin to see the feeling for what it is—a feeling. You can begin to acknowledge that it is only a feeling, not a definition of who you are.

To build upon acknowledging the feeling, think about where the feeling comes from. Is it your own voice or did it come from someone else?  We all go through seasons of struggle and pain, and the take away from this is that your reaction to others’ words and actions, the media, and social media is what you make of it. Understanding the origin of your feelings of inadequacy can help you put space between what you are feeling and who you are as a person.

Further, you do not portray yourself as your insecurities to others. You experience your feelings, but they do not define who you are.  Yes, sometimes feelings are very powerful;  you can’t just snap your fingers and not feel insecure.  However, you can learn to focus on defining yourself by your actions, aspirations, and deeds, not necessarily how you think you stack up or think others perceive you.

If your friend shared with you her feelings of insecurity or inadequacy, what would you do?  Would you tell your friend, “You’re right, Amy, you are a terrible mom and you will never be as good a mom as me”? You would say, “Parenting is tough and we all make mistakes sometimes, but the important thing is that you realize you made a mistake and you are trying to do better”. You would reassure your friend that she is a good mom and she is trying to learn from it and do better in the future.    If you can encourage your friends, why can’t you encourage yourself? You deserve to be as good a friend to yourself as to anyone else.

Flipping the voice to affirm growth and reassure yourself that your feelings of inadequacy do not define you can open the door to learn from these feelings. Our insecurities allow us to grow.  The process isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen overnight, but changing your mindset and making your inner voice work for you in positive ways will eventually have a more positive impact on how you view and react to events in your life.