What to do when you feel inadequate?

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Photo by LalitShahane 

When you feel inadequate in some way, remind yourself that feelings of inadequacy are shared by most people.

The New York Times reports

that research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.

[…]

For those low on the scale, Dr. Neff suggests a set of exercises — like writing yourself a letter of support, just as you might to a friend you are concerned about. Listing your best and worst traits, reminding yourself that nobody is perfect and thinking of steps you might take to help you feel better about yourself are also recommended.

Other exercises include meditation and “compassion breaks,” which involve repeating mantras like “I’m going to be kind to myself in this moment.”

Dr. Neff’s book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind is available for pre-order to be release on April 19.

There is always someone to be in awe of. And seeing in myself the missed opportunity to be as good as someone else creates a feeling of failure and inadequacy. A jack of all trades, master of none, will always find someone better than them in anything they look at. But the person that excels at one thing is not master of all. Life is filled with choices. If you want to be better at something, anything, you can be through practice. Practice takes time and persistence. And your attention is limited. When you see someone that excels, you see a person after they practiced. That can be you after you put the same amount of practice they did. By improving a skill, by doing something, by seeing progress from your own efforts, you can see in yourself the potential to be more. Once you create a history, a reservoir of past success, you will find that it is easier to forgive yourself any inadequacies. And with a positive outlook, at any level of ability, you will be welcome company around other successful people. The doing something is more important than the success attained. But a secret to success is to surround yourself with successful people, to hang out with people you are in awe of. And through deliberate practice of your own passions, they may soon be in awe of you.

So don’t measure yourself against others as a judgement of yourself. Measure yourself against yourself. Look for progress to celebrate. Look to deficiencies as only a guide to what you find important and what to work on. But always like who you are now. For tomorrow when you have improved, you will still see new deficiencies to improve on. If you aren’t happy with yourself now, you won’t be later. The fragile happiness that only comes with success is fleeting. The happiness that comes from enjoying the journey is the happiness of a contented life.

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