How To Cope With Feeling Inadequate (And Become More Confident In the Process)

Updated September 02, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers

Feeling inadequate can make it harder to navigate day-to-day life, resulting in stress whenever you attempt to take on big projects, interact with others, or even do things on your own. However, the good news is that confidence and self-esteem, like a muscle, can be exercised and made stronger over time. If you want to learn how to cope with feeling inadequate and want to lead a life where you feel better about yourself and more confident in your abilities, here is how you become the confident person that you are looking to be.

Eliminating Feelings Of Inadequacy: Getting To The Root Of The Problem

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If you feel inadequate, chances are that these feelings of inadequacy have developed in the past. Like other personal qualities, low self-esteem is often cultivated over time (although you may be dealing with a mental health disorder that is causing these distorted feelings of self). Let’s take a closer look at some of the things that may be contributing to your feelings of inadequacy and how you can begin tackling these negative thoughts and habits that are causing you to feel inadequate.

Where Does Low Self-Esteem Come From?

As was stated above, low self-esteem and feeling inadequate can sometimes stem from mood disorders such as depression, which can warp your thoughts and might cause you to feel as though you are worthless or useless. If this is what is causing you to feel inadequate, it is recommended that you seek help to reduce depressive symptoms. However, you may also feel inadequate because of things you have experienced early in life or throughout your life. Some common causes of low self-esteem and confidence may include the following:

  • Having a childhood where caregivers and other adult figures were highly critical of your performance
  • Dealing with bullying or having friends and peers make you feel as though you weren’t good enough
  • Performing poorly in any areas that you considered to be important at the time
  • Dealing with a series of stressful events that caused a major blow to your self-esteem
  • Being in an abusive relationship where a partner put you down regularly and made you feel worthless
  • Coping with medical conditions that caused chronic pain or impacted your appearance in some way

Understanding exactly where your feeling of inadequacy is coming from can make it easier for you to figure out how to move forward and build your confidence. But where can you start?

Changing The Narrative

The most important thing to remember when you are figuring out how to cope with feeling inadequate is that you are in control of your narrative. No matter what you have been through in the past, you are the writer of your own story. Things that impacted you in the past have no hold over you now. Once you understand why you felt inadequate, you can work toward dealing with those root causes and building yourself up from there. Take some time to consider what may be the underlying reasons behind your feeling of inadequacy, remembering that you are ultimately in control of how you feel and perceive yourself. Use this as the launching pad toward becoming the confident person that you are looking to be.

Continuing Your Progress

Armed with the knowledge of why you may feel inadequate and that you are ultimately in control of how you feel from here, the next step is to take action on this knowledge so that you can build your confidence and your self-esteem. For most people, this can be the most difficult part of the process. Where do you start?

How To Cope With Feeling Inadequate And Transform Into The Confident Person You Can Be

The process of change starts with awareness and then moves forward by making small changes to your habits and personal beliefs, and lastly, continues throughout the rest of your life as you build and maintain those changes. For people who have never had strong self-esteem, this can be especially difficult. Fortunately, developing stronger self-esteem and coping with feelings of inadequacy is possible. Here are some ways you can begin making positive changes.

1. Start Talking To Yourself Positively: How we speak to ourselves makes a major difference in how we feel about ourselves. For example, if you actively believe that you are bad, unworthy, ugly, or any of the things that are contributing to your self-esteem, you are going to feel that way about yourself consistently. Changing your self-perception begins with changing the way you talk to yourself. Make more of an effort to speak to yourself with kindness and empathy. You can do this in the mirror when you are getting ready to go somewhere by repeating positive affirmations or statements about yourself. The more positive self-talk you believe in, the more you are going to see yourself in a better light.

2. Set Positive Reminders All Around You: What we surround ourselves is what we end up feeling. If you are constantly consuming media that reinforces the idea that you are not enough, you will internalize and reinforce these feelings on your own. Instead of continuing to engage in this habit, surround yourself with positive reminders of how powerful and great you are. This can be done by listening to a playlist of self-empowering songs, keeping motivational quotes around, or even creating your real art. The more you establish the concept that you are great, the better you are going to feel.

3. Be Around People Who Are Confident And Who Make You Feel Confident Too: We tend to mirror people we hang around. If you spend time around people who treat you poorly, it can be easy to feel inadequate. Try to find people who feel confident about themselves and who treat you well and try to build you up along the way. Positive relationships can help you find the initial support you need to drive change in your own life. Seeing that other people believe in you and value you can make a big difference in your efforts.

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4. Challenge Your Negative Self-Thoughts And Beliefs: It’s important to treat negative thoughts for what they are, which is internal bullies. Every time they begin to speak up and treat you poorly, challenge them! Interrupt the thoughts and beliefs that are causing you to feel inadequate and replace these thoughts with more positive ones. You are in control of how you perceive yourself. Make sure to pay attention to the right thoughts.

5. Avoid Comparison At All Times: You are not anyone else and no one out there is you. That said, it can be easy to compare ourselves to others and to feel bad when we don’t measure up. To feel better about who we are, we have to think about ourselves, not others. Avoid comparison and focus on your progress in life. Do things that you are proud of and only measure your progress based on your past progress.

6. Appreciate The Things You Do Love About Yourself: Trying to force yourself to love things about you that you may not truly love can do more harm than good. Rather than doing this, figure out what you love about yourself and make sure to highlight those features first. Once you start loving these aspects and becoming more confident, you can become confident about things that you may have been previously insecure about.

7. Do Things That You Love: Taking on things that we may not enjoy or be the best at will only keep us down. Turn your focus to doing more things that you enjoy and that make you happy. These kinds of activities will help you boost your mood and feel better, which can set you up for success when you start building your self-esteem.

8. Set Small, Achievable Goals: When we try to tackle too much and fail in the process, it can make us feel as though our feelings of inadequacy are justified. The truth may be that you need to take things in moderation and practice the things that you want to do to get better at things over time. Set small, achievable goals, break tasks up, and practice things you want to get better at. Slow and steady wins the race!

9. Improve Your Current Lifestyle: Things like exercise, diet, and other lifestyle choices can contribute to overall better mental and physical health. If you don’t exercise regularly, then make good dietary choices and try to stay on top of your sleep and other areas of your health. This can help you improve your mood and make you feel better about yourself over time.

10. Engage In More Activities You Are Good At: When we do things we are good at, it can help us feel more confident in our abilities and talent. Figure out what you excel at and try to squeeze more of that into your life. Once you see that you are capable of achieving greatness, you will feel better trying new things.

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The most important thing to remember during this process is that it is okay to ask for help. The tips above are great places to start, but some people may need more help in incorporating them into their lives or finding their value. One great resource to turn to is counseling. An in-person or online therapist can help you better understand where your insecurities may be coming from, help you heal from these past issues, and provide you with the coping mechanisms and support needed to move forward successfully.

If you’re curious about the effectiveness of online therapy, a study has shown that online therapy can feel more personal than traditional therapy. Ninety-six percent of people using online therapy reported feeling a personal connection with their online therapists as opposed to 91 percent who saw face-to-face therapists. They were also more invested in completing homework the therapists assigned them and occasionally reviewed correspondence between them and their therapists, leading them to move forward.

How BetterHelp Can Support You

BetterHelp is an online counseling resource that helps you connect with certified counselors quickly and easily. They will provide you with emotional support and a safe space to explore why you’re feeling inadequate. They will also teach coping mechanisms to deal with those feelings, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by them and can move forward more confidently. If you have a hectic schedule that preventsyou from traveling to nearby offices, BetterHelp can be an effective alternative. You can get started with BetterHelp anywhere you have an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet, or computer and meet with your therapist at a time that’s most convenient for you. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

Brandi was such a bright spot when I was going through a tough time. She helped me open my eyes and help me grow as a person. We celebrated the little successes and addressed many things that were troubling me from my past. We took our time if need be or she gave that good little push to address the problem. I recommend her because she helped me find my confidence.

Cameron has helped me navigate some incredibly challenging things within my relationship. With his help I’ve developed confidence to be a more assertive person. Therapy had helped me understand myself and my partner much better, in addition to implementing practices and taking action to improve a situation whereas I otherwise may feel stuck or hopeless. I really loved that he took the time to get to know me and my history before trying to “tell me what to do.” I feel like he really understands how my mind operates and therefore can give great, valuable advice, in addition to being a comforting sounding board.

Feelings of inadequacy, like all feelings, can be changed given the motivation to change them and the right tools to do so. If you are looking to figure out how to cope with feeling inadequate and want to transform into a person who is more confident and sure of themselves, take a look at the tips listed above to start your journey to stronger self-esteem.


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