We all have those days when we feel incomplete. When we are just not good enough. Inadequacy can find us and linger with us for a long time. It brews strong and negative emotions that result in inaction. On days like that, all we want to do is retreat to our shell in the hopes of being forgotten. Wishing that the world will fade away if we just ignore it long enough.
We want you to know that this is normal! Everyone has their days, both, the good and the bad. It is often the existence of the bad days that highlight the presence of the good days. This makes us appreciate the good days even more. So, if you are experiencing a dreadful day (or even a series of bad days) hang in there, good days are just around the corner.
You are complete.
It is important for you to reinforce the following fact constantly. One difficult day or a few bad days do not mean it’s a bad life. Similarly, the occasional feeling of inadequacy does not mean that you are inadequate. You are enough. In fact, you are more than enough. You are a beautiful wholesome person who is powerful beyond measure. The power of all things wonderful lies in your hands. All you have to do is tap into it.
We are social beings. And when our social needs are not met, it may cause us to feel inadequate and empty. Ironically, though, we were brought into this world alone and we will leave alone, too. Throughout our journey of life, several people or things may act as a catalyst in the completion of the journey, and several may take us further away from our goals. However, we are our only constant companions.
You are enough.
So, let's dive a little deeper together.
Why do we feel inadequate?
The feeling of inadequacy can hit us in several ways. It can make us feel like we will never be enough for our partner or that we’d never be good enough to perform a particular task. It can also make us feel like something is missing in our lives or make us feel empty from the inside. It can make us look around for constant reassurance or even make us people pleasers. All these are signs of inadequacy.
So, why is it that we feel inadequate? The answer is a little different for everyone. While deep-seated insecurity is in play in most cases, every person is different. Thus, there are different triggers for different people. Let us look at a few hypothetical examples to understand the psychology behind the feeling of inadequacy.
A child joins a new school after getting bullied in his last school. The fear of being bullied again or experiencing traumatic events like those in his past may hold him back from making new experiences in his new school. The bullying may have led him to feel inadequate which projects in his daily life now. He feels like he will never be good enough for his new peers.
A girl who has lost her father at an early age in life may not be able to make friends easily or sustain relationships for long. The inner child in her has convinced herself that she was never good enough for her father which is why he left her. This may leave her feeling inadequate in several relationships.
A man feels severely inadequate after his wife cheated on him and then left him for another man. The fault is not his, but he cannot stop blaming himself for her ill doings. He cannot confide in any other woman now because he fears she might leave him too. The fear of inadequacy is constant.
In all the cases mentioned above, the fault may not lie with the victim, but the victim believes that something is wrong with him/her. The feeling of inadequacy can also be unconscious, and we may not be aware of it. Sometimes, we cannot trace our memories back to the triggers and many of us even reject the feeling of inadequacy by trying to ignore it. Just like we said, different triggers for different people and what may work for one person may not work for another.
Sometimes, this feeling of inadequacy cannot be kicked off easily. One may have talked to several people and tried various things but that feeling is still eating them up slowly. At times this may lead to other psychological issues such as anxiety, panic attacks, or even depression. Another problem that inadequacy may cause is abandonment or trust issues.
In severe cases such as this, no number of self-help books or self-affirmations help you as much as a professional counselor can. Trained professionals will deal with sensitive issues such as these on a more personal and empathetic level along with personalizing therapy programs.
If not seeking therapy, several other ways that may help you to shrug off this feeling of inadequacy. We are not trying to counsel you by any means! These are well-researched methods that studies have proven to be effective in the past and it is for you to decide what works best for you. However, to save you the time and effort that goes into researching, we made you a list of things that might help you rise above your inadequacy blues.
Maintain a journal of self-affirmations or positive talks to yourself. At the end of every day, try to recall a minimum of 5 things you aced during the day!
Practice daily self-affirmations. This helps to boost self-esteem and will enable you to believe in yourself a little more.
Stop bashing yourself up if things did not work out the way you had expected them to. Give yourself more credit, you deserve it!
When the feelings of inadequacy kick in, perform tasks that you are great at to get your mind off the negative feelings. Paint an abstract painting or sing your favorite song. Basically, do anything that will elevate your spirit at the moment!
Do not compare yourself to others. Everyone is different and everyone is at a different point in their own life journey. You are your own unique self, embrace that wholeheartedly!
Set small goals which are achievable and then move on to bigger goals. Baby steps first.
Get yourself into a healthy routine. Fix your eating and sleeping habits and find what works for you the best. You’d be shocked to realize how much of a difference small things can make!
The avoidance defense mechanism is not always the way to deal with things. You will burn out eventually. Take some time off for self-reflection and try to figure out for yourself why you are feeling a certain way. This step may take some time but do not stop trying!
Kintsugi philosophy- Japanese broken pottery
This is a beautiful Japanese concept of mending bowls perfectly displays how imperfections are natural and beautiful. This concept of bowl mending came about accidentally in the 15th century by Ashikaga Yoshimasa. He broke his favorite bowl which was then sent to China for repairs. The bowl came back with its pieces stapled together with gold. This made the bowl more unique and a piece one of its kind. This Japanese art of pottery has been famous ever since. The broken pieces of pottery or china are mended together with golden lacquer, bringing the vessels back to life.
If we apply this concept to inadequacy, there is deep meaning behind it. We are all broken and incomplete in some way. We are humans and certain life situations are bound to change us all. Just like the broken pottery, we break too.
Embracing your imperfections
A major step towards dealing with your inadequacies is embracing your imperfections. It is every flaw and every quality of yours that makes you, YOU. We must learn to accept every single one of these flaws too and be ourselves unapologetically. You will see how liberating it feels once you truly start to love yourself for the way you are and work on yourself daily.
Wabi-Sabi is an ancient Japanese Buddhist philosophy, where the two words stand for two different concepts. Wabi signifies being one with nature as well as living a simplistic life. Sabi on the other hand means to be chill and embrace who you are. Wabi-Sabi is a concept that can be applied to our daily lives too. Philosophically, this concept means to be fully content with who you are as a person as well as with everything you possess in life. Only souls that can be content can lead a life of self-adequacy and completeness.
The goal here is not to settle for less or ignore your shortcomings but in fact, love yourself despite these flaws. Once you accept all your flaws and imperfections you will notice that you have already set on a path of self-healing and recovery. The feelings of insecurity and inadequacy will soon be out of the window.
Here are some tips on embracing imperfections:
Praise yourself a little more. Give yourself some more credit.
Do not be so harsh on yourself, you’re still learning.
Talk to yourself kindly like you would to a close friend. Self-talk is a game-changer.
Don’t forget to shower yourself with some positive self-affirmations everyday
Understand that it is your imperfections that make you human. Nobody is perfect.
Try to look at the positive in most situations while still validating your feelings.
Surround yourself with some great company. The people you interact with on a majority basis should be positive and uplifting.
Having imperfections doesn’t mean we shun or reject ourselves. Instead, it is these flaws that make us unique and completely ourselves. It is through these flaws that our strengths shine. Thus, beauty lies in accepting and completely embracing our flaws and working towards them just like the mended pottery of the Japanese Kintsugi philosophy. Only once we truly accept ourselves will we be able to get rid of the fear of inadequacy.
Go ahead and give yourself a tight hug!
So, stop being so harsh on yourself. You are inclusive of all your traits. It’s only you who makes yourself complete. Learn to love yourself, embrace your faults and work on yourself continuously. Go ahead and give yourself a tight, warm hug right away affirming that you are fully adequate and complete!