How To Rise Above Feelings Of Inadequacy

Updated August 27, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

In the best of worlds, we as human beings would always be confident and sure of ourselves. Even the most confident people in the world can sometimes find themselves struggling to cope with feelings of inadequacy. Furthermore, this plight is especially prevalent amongst individuals who suffer from an inferiority complex or other self-esteem issues, reports the American Psychological Association.

What Causes Feelings Of Inadequacy?

When looking at ways to rise above feelings of inadequacy, getting to the root cause of these feelings is helpful, if at all possible. The truth is that there are a significant number of factors that can cause issues of this nature; childhood experiences and adverse contact with authority figures are just a couple of examples.

According to Psychology Today, the experiences that people go through can engender feelings of inadequacy, as can inner feelings. No two individuals have the same story; although, many situations involving feelings of inadequacy can be traced back to either personal experiences or emotions that someone is dealing with.

Sometimes, these experiences or emotions can be buried beneath the surface; feelings of inadequacy can very well be a symptom of the more significant issue at hand.

Six Ways To Rise Above Feelings Of Inadequacy

One of the most common questions associated with feelings of inadequacy is how to rise above these feelings. The good news is that there are a series of appropriate steps you can take. Some may prove to be more effective than others, depending on personal circumstances and other factors. Still, the following methods have value and merit when battling the aforementioned feelings.

Come To Peace With Your Childhood Experiences

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Childhood experiences often play such a pivotal role in the quality of one’s adulthood. Sometimes, this impact is underestimated; if someone suffered from adverse childhood experiences, then understanding just how much these events can impact later periods of life is important.

If you dealt with bullying, abuse, neglect, or hurtful experiences with authority figures as a child, this could contribute to feelings of inadequacy as an adult. Dealing and coming to peace with your childhood experiences is an immensely beneficial way to rise above feelings of inadequacy. Depending on your past experiences, accepting the guidance and help of a mental health specialist can be good for coming to peace with your childhood experiences.

Spend Time With Encouraging People

Childhood experiences can undoubtedly play a role in feelings of inadequacy, as can the people you spend time with. You know the most about the company that you keep; how do you feel when you are around your inner circle? Do the people around you uplift and encourage you, or do they bring you down? On an emotional and personal level, how do you feel when you are around people that you regularly spend time with?

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Ongoing exposure to negative influences and people eventually takes its toll. If the people around you are not suitable for you, this could very well be triggering feelings of inadequacy. If this is a situation that you’re in, then rising above these feelings will require spending time with encouraging people.

It goes without saying that cutting off contact with folks who bring you down is in your best interest. Depending on the situation and history, cutting toxic ties may be difficult at first; however, in the long run, you’ll be setting yourself up to reap mental and emotional benefits.

Don’t Compare Yourself To Other People

The National Institutes of Health documents the human tendency to compare ourselves to other people that we interact with. This tendency can, unfortunately, do more harm than good. Comparing yourself to other people is not constructive; it also isn’t a full comparison.

No one knows the full extent of someone else’s life, experiences, thoughts, issues, or other events playing out behind the scenes. Comparing your life story to someone else’s highlight reel is not healthy and can create warped and often unjustified feelings of inadequacy.

In life, we are all moving at our own pace and on our own paths. Trusting and focusing on yourself and your journey is much more productive than comparing yourself to other people.

Immerse Yourself In Activities You Love

It’s been established that your emotions can play a significant role in whether or you have adverse contact with feelings of inadequacy. In light of this, you should also know that how you choose to spend your time can impact your emotions. During your journey of rising above feelings of inadequacy, immersing yourself in activities that you love can be helpful.

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Spending time doing things that you love — whether it’s exercising, writing, drawing, or something else entirely — is good for you. Engaging in enjoyable activities keeps your mind occupied and gives you something positive to focus on.

Rather than having to cope with feelings of inadequacy, you can focus your energies on honing a new skill and enjoying yourself. Even taking a few hours each week to do something you love can make a huge difference.

Remind Yourself Of Your Strengths

Regardless of childhood experiences or prior interactions with authority figures, each and every one of us has strong suits. Sometimes, when you are faced with common questions linked to feelings of inadequacy, focusing on your personal strengths can be helpful.

Your personal strengths can pertain to your job, your recreational hobbies, or even your interactions with loved ones. Each and every person has something they’re good at. Finding your strong suits and remembering positive things about yourself can be helpful, especially when your goal is to stop feeling inadequate.

Live A Healthy Lifestyle

Childhood experiences and negative emotions can certainly engender feelings of inadequacy. However, sometimes, these feelings may be an offshoot of stress or an otherwise imbalanced lifestyle.

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Taking care of yourself in fundamental ways and ensuring that you’re living a healthy lifestyle can make a difference. Productive habits, such as getting a good night’s rest regularly or consuming a nutritious diet, can prevent many issues from arising. This is not to say that living a healthy lifestyle makes you immune from feelings of inadequacy; however, taking good care of yourself consistently can undoubtedly make a difference and help combat negative emotions.

How Long Does It Take To Rise Above Feelings Of Inadequacy?

When working to overcome feelings of inadequacy, one of the most common questions pertains to how long this process will take. The answer to this depends upon a variety of factors; just some examples include the cause of the feelings, how deeply rooted they may be, and so much more.

Everyone progresses and overcomes challenges at their own pace. The timeline that works for you may not be effective for another person and vice versa. It’s also important to remember that rising above feelings of inadequacy is not a race. Understanding the cause of these feelings is critical, as is taking the necessary steps to regain confidence and self-esteem.

A Gradual Process

Another important element is remembering to take everything in stride. Feelings of inadequacy do not develop overnight; likewise, rising above these feelings also will not happen instantaneously. Doing the best you can and following the pointers listed above comes highly recommended, but you don’t have to go through this process on your own.

A Path For Personalized Help And Guidance

Whether you are working to rise above feelings of inadequacy or tackle another challenge altogether, knowing that you are not alone always makes a difference. The truth of the matter is that everyone needs help sometimes. There is never any shame in admitting this; seeking help or guidance from a professional can only be beneficial to you if you feel inclined to do so.

Here at BetterHelp, we could not be more proud to provide online counseling services. Online counseling is a fantastic form of personalized support that has improved countless lives. If you are willing to work with a BetterHelp online counselor, you can count on receiving top-rated guidance and support, no matter what you may be going through. Furthermore, you can avoid the hassles associated with traditional forms of counseling, such as having to be in a set location at certain times.

When you start taking online counseling sessions with BetterHelp, we will adhere to a schedule that works well for you. If you are a regular traveler, someone who works odd hours, or otherwise has commitments, online counseling can really work well for you.

Just as personal problems and struggles don’t develop in an instant, arriving at solutions also takes time. Online counseling is not a quick fix; however, it can help you develop long-term solutions, skills, and tools. Working with an online counselor also opens the door to you learning more about yourself, regaining confidence, and being prepared for any obstacles that await you later down the line.

In life, we should all be learning and growing as individuals. With the proper help and guidance, curveballs and setbacks can easily be used as opportunities for growth. Should you decide that online counseling with BetterHelp is the right path for you, we will be here.


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