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How to deal with feelings of inadequacy at work?

How to deal with feelings of inadequacy at work?

When you’re at work, do you often feel out of place? Like someone made a mistake and that’s why you got the job? What about your performance? Do you feel like nothing you ever do is good enough? Do you believe you’ve gotten this far just due to good luck? 

Feelings of inadequacy at work are incredibly common, that’s the first thing you need to understand. At one point or another, people feel like they don’t deserve what they have or that they’re not enough. 

However, just because this is common, it doesn’t mean it can wreak havoc on your self-confidence and affect your productivity. If you’re feeling inadequate at work, you might be dealing with imposter syndrome along with 70% of people, according to research.

The good news is that there are many healthy ways to deal with feelings of inadequacy at work and nurture your confidence. Today, we will provide a few tips so you can use them whenever you feel out of place at work or like you don’t belong there. 

Tips to deal with feelings of inadequacy at work:

1. Recognize the signs:

The first thing you need to do to fight feelings of inadequacy is to learn to recognize the signs. This way, you have a better chance of stopping yourself instead of leaning into it. Feeling like a fraud, undervaluing your skills and worth, and undermining your experience are clear signs of inadequacy. 

Whether you got the job you wanted, handled a big project on your own, or earned the recognition of people you admire, you still feel like you’ve somehow fooled everyone. Well, you haven’t!

Your accomplishments are real. The sooner you recognize the voice of doubt, the better you’ll be able to shut it down. 

2. Bring your expectations back to earth:

As humans, we have this really bad habit of being very hard on ourselves. Though expectations, whether good or bad, are natural, it’s very important to keep them in check.

Expectations based on experience can be realistic, but situations and contexts will always be different. That’s something you must remember. 

For example, just because a former employee didn’t see your worth before, doesn’t mean everyone feels the same way. On the other hand, expectations that aren’t based on experience are the easiest way to set yourself up to fail.

However, they are easy to prevent if you just focus on the process. Stay in the now and celebrate every small success, until you reach the desired outcomes. 

3. Stop comparing yourself:

Comparing yourself to others is not only useless and unproductive, and it’s also the fastest way to feel inadequate and insecure. The grass is not always greener on the other side. Even if it were, it’s better to just focus on tending to your own grass. 

When you feel even a little bit insecure, it’s easy to look at other people’s careers or social media and beat yourself up, mentally. Instead, try something different. Look back at your career and recognize how much you’ve grown.

See where you were 1 or 5 years ago and you’ll notice how much you’ve grown. That’s the only comparison you should be making!

4. Make a list of accomplishments:

If you often have feelings of inadequacy at work, it will serve you well to make a list of everything you’ve accomplished. You can make this list on the notes app on your phone, any other mobile device, or a journal. Either way, you should always be able to turn to it when you need it. 

You can add to the list whenever you accomplish something at work and in your career.

This way, whenever you feel inadequate, you can read through it to shut down the negative voice. The one that tells you you’re not good enough. Thanks to the list, you’ll know how wrong that voice is. 

5. Hash things out with someone:

Talking to someone about your feelings of inadequacy at work is one of the best ways to work through them. Whether you do this with a close friend, a partner, or in therapy, we promise you will feel a whole lot better. At first, you might be reluctant to let anyone know how you feel. 

However, you need to remember that imposter syndrome and feelings of inadequacy are something almost everyone can relate to. Discussing your experience with someone will help you see that other people sometimes feel the same and that you’re not alone. 


Feeling inadequate at work or in life is quite a universal experience, but you can’t allow yourself to dwell in it. Any of these coping mechanisms will help you snap out of it and remember all the things you already know are true.

You are worthy, you’ve earned your place, and you deserve to be where you are! Again, you can learn to combat impostor syndrome if you really focus on this goal and dig enough to learn more on this topic.

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