Many people experience the feeling of inadequacy at some point in their lives. Sometimes, you may just feel like you’re not good enough at something. For example, one may experience this feeling after failing a job interview or being rejected after asking someone out.
The feeling of inadequacy can be a result of frustration when you’re not satisfied with the results of your efforts or some of your traits. Although easy to explain, this feeling can also be quite dangerous, especially when it doesn’t go away quickly. This feeling can be a signal of self-esteem problems that may have a significant negative impact on all areas of your life.
If you’re feeling inadequate, you may benefit from self-esteem therapy because a licensed therapist can help you figure out the root causes of this feeling and suggest effective coping practices. While dealing with this issue alone might be a challenging task, the better you understand it, the easier it might be for you to overcome this negative feeling.
In this article, we will consider some of the possible reasons why you're feeling inadequate and share some helpful tips to stop feeling inadequate.
What Causes the Feeling of Inadequacy?
This feeling can be rooted in various life events, including workplace harassment and childhood trauma. Most often, it is a result of unpleasant childhood experiences. For instance, a person who was neglected by parents, faced shaming from peers, or whose parents were overly critical, may still feel the emotional consequences of such experiences even as an adult.
Traumatizing memories and new experiences that evoke bad associations from the past may trigger feelings of inadequacy. Besides, childhood trauma may contribute to the development of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or anxiety, which in turn may lead to the feeling of inadequacy.
This feeling, however, is common not only among children but also among parents. Parents may feel inadequate because of being unable to provide the necessary resources or not feeling certain emotions. In addition, people who felt inadequate as children may set the bar too high when it comes to parenting and then feel inadequate when they fail to accomplish their unrealistic goals.
Quite often, people also feel inadequate because of comparing themselves to images and standards popular on social media or TV. Thousands of social media influencers and celebrities constantly share their daily activities with followers, but all of their content only reflects the positive sides of their lives.
So, if a person compares themselves to these unrealistic images, they may start to feel inadequate — not wealthy enough, not happy enough, etc. The truth is that the wide public has no idea of how these people actually feel and whether or not they are as happy as they look.
How the Feeling of Inadequacy Can Affect Your Life
Obviously, this is an unpleasant feeling, and it can affect you in many ways. When feeling inadequate, people see themselves in a negative light so they may assume that everyone else sees them in the same way.
Some people even subconsciously try to fix their perception of themselves through relationships, especially if they’re alone. It may seem like being in a relationship can make you feel more adequate, but the truth is that such attempts often negatively affect the relationship itself. For example, a person might be afraid that their partner judges them the same way.
Many people also experience an inadequacy fear, being afraid that others will notice the way they feel and judge themselves. As a result, they try to hide their feelings from others or even from themselves because a realization of their feelings may lead to many negative emotions.
When people try to mask their feelings, they may distance themselves from others or choose complete isolation. Besides, some people use unhealthy coping mechanisms to distract themselves from their negative thoughts and emotions. For example, they may overeat, oversleep, or try to comfort themselves through alcohol or drug use.
Besides, some people may project their feeling of inadequacy onto others, and such behavior may even turn into abuse. For instance, they may blame their partners for this feeling or try to control their partners when they feel powerless.
How to Cope With Feeling Inadequate
It can be really difficult for a person to stop self-deprecating because it means figuring out the reasons behind the feeling of inadequacy and putting a lot of effort into improving your self-esteem, which isn’t an easy task. Given that the feeling of inadequacy is aimed inwards, it’s important to understand that the solution also lies within you.
Reconsider your expectations
If you always fall short of your own expectations, the chances are that you just set the bar too high and at least some of your expectations are unrealistic. Therefore, a good solution is to reconsider your goals and think of whether or not they are actually achievable and correspond to your capabilities.
Improve your skills and gain expertise
If you feel inadequate when dealing with a particular task, it makes sense to put more effort into training the necessary skills and gaining expertise. Once you’re able to perform the task successfully, you will feel more capable and competent so your self-esteem may also improve.
Focus on your strengths
When you’re feeling inadequate, it’s easy to get stuck in negative emotions and frustration. Don’t forget about your strengths. Focus on them, remind yourself of them, and don’t get too concerned about the things you’re not good at. Besides, you may want to dedicate more time to those areas of your professional or personal life where you can put your strengths to use.
Train emotion regulation skills
Most often, people feel inadequate when dealing with difficult situations. However, if you learn to sidestep negative thinking and manage your emotions, you will also minimize the negative impact of these difficult situations on your self-esteem. Effective emotional management is also beneficial because it allows you to think clearly and improve decision-making, which in turn might boost your self-confidence.
No matter how good you are at something that you do, you’re always worthy of self-compassion. When having negative thoughts about yourself, think of how you would react to the weaknesses and failures of someone you love. The chances are that you would support them. You deserve to treat yourself the same way.
Talk to a therapist
Overcoming the feeling of inadequacy can be very difficult, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. A professional therapist can help you figure out what caused your negative thoughts and suggest effective coping practices that will work for you.
There might be different reasons why you're feeling inadequate, and this feeling can have a significant negative impact on all areas of your life. If you want to overcome this feeling and restore your self-esteem, you may need help, so don’t hesitate to talk to a licensed therapist.
Thanks to online therapy platforms like Calmerry, you can get the necessary help from virtually anywhere, with no need to commute to a therapist’s office. Experienced online therapists can help you cope with negative feelings and address the root causes of your emotional issues. Learn more about the benefits of therapy to prepare for your first step toward a better life.