Ever feel like you’ve done a lot of things but somehow, you can’t measure up or meet up? Or you have struggled to get somewhere, yet somehow, it doesn’t happen? You feel like you’re not good enough; you’re not trying or doing enough and what you do isn’t ever going to be enough. Well, you could have experienced feelings of inadequacy.
For a very long time in my life, I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough. It’s a crushing feeling that feels like you’re too small and can’t ever measure up no matter how hard you try.
Feelings of inadequacy are feelings of not being enough; feelings of not being good enough for something or someone.
It is said that everyone at some point in their life has experienced the feelings of inadequacy. Some people experience it more often than others and it affects their overall relationships with people in life. It can also be synonymous with inferiority complex
Personally, it’s something I’ve struggled with almost all my life and it wasn’t up until few months ago that it didn’t come to me as often.
If you have experienced feelings of inadequacy or you want to know what it is like for other people, you can click here for the article where I asked a few people some questions about feelings of inadequacy.
Causes of feelings of inadequacy
Feeling inadequate is one thing to understand mentally. But to actually change it and stop beating yourself up requires some serious inner work.-Sheri Jacobson
Feelings of inadequacy has more to do with low self-esteem and insecurity. Major causes of these feelings are seen in past/early experiences in life as in childhood experiences. Below are the main causes of feelings of inadequacy.
I’m a firm believer that words are seeds and have life and so bear fruits. That’s why someone would say something to you and right there, you may not give it thought but somehow, it’s in your unconscious mind because you did hear those words and one day, you remember it and ponder on it.
Ever wondered how someone suggests something and somehow, you think about going through with it? Well, that’s the power of words.
The critical inner voice is a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts toward ourselves and others. The nagging “voices,” or thoughts, that make up this internalized dialogue are at the root of much of our self-destructive and maladaptive behavior.
As humans, we tend to soak up and meditate on negative comments about ourselves more than positive comments. What’s amazing is that we are able to bury them deep into our unconscious mind and when convenient, it just pops out.
For instance, Dan is working on a project and is making lots of mistake. He has a deadline which is in a few days. His mind somehow messes with him and reminds him of something his father has always said to him ‘you never do anything right’ and he says to himself, my dad was right.
Humans tend to have lots of these negative comments hidden which often come from childhood/past experiences. We then internalize these comment and they become part of how we see ourselves. These critical voices remind us always that we are not good enough and feelings of inadequacy linger.
Another thing is the fact that sometimes we are hard on ourselves concerning certain things. I’m mostly like that and that keeps me feeling like I didn’t do enough or it’s not as good as it’s supposed to be. It could be as a result of people in the past that expected more of me and made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough and so I push to always make things perfect.
Parenting can have an effect on why some people feel as if they are not good enough.
Growing up, some people had critical, demanding and aloof parents/guardians. As Nigerians, that’s probably not uncommon. These parents/guardians probably mean the best for us, however, the way they approach it leaves one feeling like they are not doing things right or they have to do more.
For instance, our parents/guardians tell us things like ‘you need to do more’, ‘study harder’, ‘why are you slouching’ and so on. I know I’ve heard all of that and more. For me, I have to say that this was a contributing factor because I know how my parents were and I understand that they wanted the best for me and I love them, however, these things did make me want to strive for perfection and made me always see ways in which I might have done better plus, first born struggles.
Some people growing up had the burdens (physical, mental & emotional) of their parents/guardians on them. An example is separated/divorced parents. As a child experiencing their parents getting a divorce, it can be hard and sometimes they blame themselves; ‘maybe if I didn’t do this or that, mom and dad would still be here’ and some try so hard to please their parents and bring them back as if it’s all on them. That coupled with other related psychological and emotional tensions can cause feelings of inadequacy, as if they are not good enough for something.
Failures – Failures have a way of making one feel like they don’t measure up when it comes to certain things. This is because they try and they failed and so they internalize their failures which not only cripples them but makes them feel inadequate.
Neglect – When people are neglected or feel neglected they could feel as if they are not good enough. They think people neglect them because there’s something about them that doesn’t make people they love stay or choose them. So, they blame themselves and sometimes when they find someone, they attach themselves so much to that person and most times, strive to show them that they are good enough for them so they don’t leave them. However, some of them just shut off and have trust issues.
Low Self-esteem and Insecurities – Low self-esteem and insecurities really leave us crippled and feeling inadequate because we see something wrong with us and feel like there are a lot of flaws in us.
Trauma and relationships with other – Our relationship with friends, at work and traumas have an effect of feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes we have critical people around us that keep reminding us of what we are doing wrong. There are also certain traumatic things one has experienced that have led to feeling like they are not good enough.
Comparison – When we compare ourselves with others, of course we feel inadequate, as though we’re not being good enough or doing enough. We see all the things someone is getting right and we compare with ours, forgetting that we all are not the same and are on different paths.
The main consequences of feelings of inadequacy is that it leads to intense low self-esteem, there’s unrest, and so much struggle to measure up.
Dealing with Feelings of Inadequacy
- Know yourself
Do you know who you are? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you draw your strength and self-confidence from?
I believe it’s important to have answers to the questions above. In as much as we tend to forget who we are and what we are capable of when discouraged, knowing these things can help one get back to it and be encouraged because you get to see why you’re enough and adequate.
For me, I know I’m a child of God and honestly, I try to see myself the way God sees me. He loved me enough to send His son to die for me, He made me good enough. When I think about it, I get encouraged. When I also think about the things God has said about me and how He sees me in the Bible, I become encouraged too. Besides, the Holy Spirit is such a comforter.
- Positive thinking and reaffirmation
Sounds cliché but positive thinking is a way to get rid of feelings of inadequacy. Instead of being negative and yielding to the critical voices in your head, you can think and confess positively. Instead of ‘I’m not worthy’, say ‘I am worthy because of …’ Another one is reaffirming who you are. If it helps, write your strengths down and the good things people say about you so when you feel like you’re not good enough, you read them to yourself, reaffirming it.
- Be surrounded by people that love you and care for you
As humans, we always need support even if it’s just one person. I understand some people don’t have a lot of people backing them but even if it’s one, it’s important because they can help support and build you up. When you are surrounded by people that love and care for you, they will always let you know how important you are to them and will encourage you when you start second-guessing yourself.
- Breathe, recharge pace yourself and reset
I understand what it is like to feel inadequate and I know how overwhelming it feels. As hard as it sounds, I will encourage you to breathe, recharge, pace yourself and reset.
I’m adding this point because this is the point that has greatly helped me with feelings of inadequacy and I just have to share with you. Talking to God and dwelling in His words have helped me realize that I’m good enough; I’m adequate. There are lies that the enemy is selling to us and one of them is you’re not worth it; you’re not good enough. Like I mentioned, it’s a lie and you need to see the amazing things God says about you in His word.
Another thing God does is that He helps you, he helps your mind because He gives peace and He gives sound mind also. He’s such a friend and a supportive one at that. He’s also never gets tired of listening to you, it’s so amazing. I’m grateful because my getting this far is mostly attributed to Him.
You can trust him.