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How to Fix Feelings of Inadequacy

  • 10 min read

Ever had the feeling that you are not good enough?

That something is wrong with you? Or that you are not normal?

Even if you haven’t heard these phrases pass inside your mind, there’s a big chance you’ve encountered them in disguise:

  • Fear of your partner or friends leaving you
  • Fear of getting fired
  • Thinking nobody would want to date, hire or get to know you in the first place
  • Not daring to speak up in a group
  • Not daring to speak your mind (or even talk) to someone you perceive as “above” you
  • Wearing a comb over
  • Writing on your tinder profile that you’re 6’2” tall when in fact, you’re only 6’1”

While these may be things we don’t feel every single day, they may pop up whenever certain situations trigger them.  These triggers can be anything and they depend on the areas in which you consider yourself inadequate:

  • Burning the meal you’re trying to surprise your loved one(s) with
  • A delicious looking human that keeps talking to your hot friend while ignoring you
  • Your date discovering that your tesla was only a rental and you’re not actually a bodyguard for Beyonce’s puppy. But just a dog walker with a client who listens to her music

In my case, these feelings can get triggered whenever I do something clumsy (e.g. drop something and it breaks) or I forget something I consider important.

Whatever the situation is that triggers you, the end result is usually one of these three:

  • You wonder:  “What is wrong with me?  “
  • You feel like you’re “not good enough” and tell yourself you need to be more X or Y.  Or if you’re going particularly crazy, maybe even Z
  • You feel afraid of losing something/someone that you believe you couldn’t be without

If by now you start to recognize some of this in your own life already, great.

Okay, poor choice of words.  I mean “Great, then this post is for you.”

Separating Fact From Feeling

Before we continue, let us first recognize that we’re dealing with a feeling, not a fact.

The truth is that you are good enough.  You may not be good enough to live up to an unrealistic standard set by your own perfectionism.  But you are definitely good enough to survive on this planet. Otherwise you would be dead by now.

So the problem is that not that you are inadequate, it’s that you feel inadequate.

This is an important distinction.

Because if you are still stuck believing that you actually are inadequate, it can lead to all sorts of behaviors and addictions that don’t do you good.  Most of these things will be aimed at “deceiving” others (or yourself) into believing that you are not inadequate.  For example:

  • Buying expensive clothing or expensive gadgets
  • Lying to others about your life
  • Taking drugs that make you feel better

Once you realize that the fact of your inadequacy is nothing but a feeling (which doesn’t make the feeling any less real), we can get to work.

How to Connect with People When You Feel Isolated

Take a moment to realize that almost every human feels these things from time to time.

When you are right in the middle of feeling inadequate, it tends to make you feel separated from “other people”.  You compare yourself with how you believe other people are. And you conclude that you must be worth less.  But the irony is that those people sometimes feel the same.  These feelings also make them feel separate, causing them not to talk about it.

So in a sense, in that moment you could consider yourself intimately connected with everyone else.  You are suffering in a way that is universally human.

Even people who have achieved way more than you in life feel this way some times (not to say that achievement is an accurate measurement of one’s worth).  Some of them may even feel it worse than you, which could be one of the main things that drive them to achieve so much.

Becoming aware of this may not cause your feelings to go away.  But at least it brings you one step closer to alleviating the sense of loneliness and isolation that comes with the feeling.

So how do we get rid of the feeling itself then?

Is Your Solution Actually Causing the Problem?

This may look like a weird idea, but bear with me for a little bit.

Obviously, the solution to your issue can not be the root cause of your issue.  But in this specific case, one of the main reasons the feeling of inadequacy persists, is that you continue to search for a solution to such feelings.

Every time you go and search for a solution to this feeling of inadequacy, you reinforce the (mostly erronous) idea that there is something wrong with you that needs to be fixed.  In other words, looking for a solution makes you believe that you are inadequate somehow.

People who sell “solutions” to this problem know this.  So if you were to go out and look for a solution, smart marketeers brilliantly play into this insecurity.  They will draw you in, making you feel like they know your problem, and then present the magic solutionsthat will fix it .And they’ll have you hooked.

If you don’t believe me, read back to the start of this post.  I did the exact same thing to draw you in.  Which may even be why you ended up reading this post.  But luckily, I’m not selling you anything.

People who want your money on the other hand, will make a lot more effort luring you in than I did.  They’ll make you believe you finally found the root of all your problems, and they’ll say “You know what? Buy this book, buy this supplement, try my autofellatio retreat in the Himalaya mountains for $1000 euros less than usual. I will fix you!”

Then, after you went and tried their product or service, you’ll think you’re fixed for a while.  Until suddenly, the feeling of inadequacy pops up again.   So you’ll conclude that since the things that fix other people don’t work for you, there definitely must be something wrong with you.  Which will restart the cycle with just a little extra anxiety every time.

Another reason why these solutions create the problem, is that the mere idea that you have found the solution solidifies the belief that -since you need solving- you are not good enough without it.  This may not be that obvious, because the belief is now masked under a layer of confidence.  But underneath, the feelings are still there, and even stronger.

Because now you’ll have confidence in the pills, or the techniques you learned in some workshop.  But not in yourself.  So what if you forget to take the pills?  What if you forget to apply your technique?  Then you’ll be inadequate! Oh no!  “I have to use this fix all the time, or I’m not good enough.”

Once you become aware of this, you may conclude that the product or service didn’t fix you at all.  You are still inadequate.  So the cycle restarts and you go looking for something (or someone) else that can help you fix yourself.

What If Your Problem Was Unfixable?

Since we are stuck in this weird conundrum where any attempt to fix the problem also creates the problem, paradoxically the only way to get out of the cycle is by no longer wanting the feeling of inadequacy to be gone.

I’m not saying it will never be fixed.  I’m only inviting you to stop wanting it.

The problem once again is that if you stop wanting it because “that is the way to potentially fix the problem”, it restarts the cycle as well.  So the only way to genuinely stop wanting it, is by telling yourself that this is something that may as well be there for the rest of your life.  And that you’ll have to find a way to live with it.

So let’s imagine for a moment, that that is the one and absolute truth:

The feeling will be there forever. Your search is finally over and you have the answer: Your problem can not be fixed.

What would you do then? (Keeping in mind that any answer related to self-harm automatically transforms into “get professional help”.)

If your problem was unfixable, and you were now alleviated of the burden of finding a cure….how would you deal with this situation for the rest of your life?

Allowing Yourself to Feel Inadequate

In my case, I discovered that feeling inadequate was actually not the worst thing to feel occasionally.  The main problem was feeling inadequate about feeling inadequate, and then feeling things about not wanting that feeling to be there.  Because that is what made the feeling continue for hours, instead of just a few minutes.

These are the kind of “compound feelings” that start to come up when you label the original feeling as negative or unwanted.  But whether you want it or not, you can not run or hide form these kinds of feelings.  They want to be felt.  And fighting against them only makes them bigger.

The way to get out of this cycle is by allowing the original feeling to be there.  Welcome it.  Get closer to it.  Investigate it.

Where is this coming from?

Why do I feel so bad when I make a simple mistake?

Why do I want to spend money on herbal penis enlargement supplements?  (I didn’t want to be exclusive here so I did a little Google search, apparently this is a real thing for women.  You never stop learning.)

In my case I found out that the feeling underneath was the basic uncertainty of life.  What if 10 years from now, I’ll realize that I made all the wrong decisions in life and it turns out I wasn’t as capable as I thought?  That I end up completely alone with no money or food?  The answer was pretty obvious “then I just start again from scratch”.

But the problem is usually not finding the answer.  It’s finding the question.

If you spend years pushing away anything that makes you feel inadequate, you never enter the feeling deeply enough to get to the root of it.

For example:  I never discovered I had trouble dealing with this uncertainty, because I simply organized my life around habits that made me feel in control of this. (Sounds familiar?)

But these little (or big) moments when we feel inadequate is our subconscious trying to tell us something.

“Pay attention to this…  There is some darkness inside you that wants to be known (and ultimately loved).  Something that needs to be faced or addressed.”

And that’s exactly what needs to happen.  Don’t try to fix the feeling.  Don’t try to run from it.  Run towards instead.  Face it.  Figure out what it’s made of.  And don’t judge what you find.

You are not broken. You’re a normal human being.  These are normal functions of our psyche.

The way out is to stop wanting for it to change.  To behave as if you’ll have it forever. Love your imperfections, and love the fears and feelings you have about them.

And ironically, this has a 100% succes rate.  Because if it works, it works.  And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter. Because you no longer wanted it to be gone anyway 😉

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