One of the most difficult things to come to terms with as a man is being comfortable with oneself. We can experience challenges in our mental health that completely shake the core of our abilities to feel like who we are. So many men can feel the push and pull of having to be a strong person inside and out, and when we feel inadequate, it strips away any belief in what we can really do. Inadequacy is something that can be rooted from early on in life or you can hit it when approaching mid-life when you’ve started to lose all sense of responsibility in some aspects of your existence, and this can be incredibly challenging. What should we do if we experience feelings of inadequacy that make us question our whole existence?
If there’s one thing we should all be aware of in the modern day, it’s that social media provides a very distorted lens of reality. We all have an obligation to put only the very best of ourselves on social media, and when we see what others are doing and how seemingly good their lives are, it’s unhealthy for us but it exacerbates those tendencies to compare ourselves with others, because we think we could be better, we could be faster, stronger, and so forth. But this only serves to increase those negative issues of oneself, especially in terms of how we look.
Wanting to treat hair loss, lose so much weight, or get stronger to lift a certain amount can all be major things that we feel we have to do now because we’ve seen someone else do something that we’re envious of. We can feel so inadequate about ourselves purely on an aesthetic level that we will never get to the root causes of it, which is why when we want to make changes in our lives like tackling an aesthetic problem like losing our hair, we do it with a greater dose of compassion, but also recognise that everybody has their crosses to bear.
Nobody has an easy life and also, more importantly, if we had an easy life, we would never strive to be our best selves. You shouldn’t mollycoddle yourself, but you should also recognise when you are at your limits because if the people you see on social media are making you feel worse about yourself.
Self-compassion is one of those things that is almost anathema to what the pace of life seems to dictate these days. We’re supposed to burn the candle at both ends because this means that we get the things we want in life. However, this is absolutely not the case anymore. You may have heard your parents talking about you knuckling down and working hard, but look at the younger generations; they’ve seen exactly what has happened to Generation X and millennials who are still renting and can’t afford to purchase their own homes. What’s more, these people have been blamed for what is going on in a financial sense.
The once solid equation of working hard to get what you want in life is not true anymore. It may become better, but right now, this is absolutely not the case, and that notion of the American Dream is destructive at best. The solution is far simpler: to give yourself a break and be kind towards yourself as long as you are doing your best without pushing yourself far beyond what you’re capable of. We certainly need to be better at going beyond our comfort zone but, much like working out, you go a bit beyond what you can do and you give yourself time to recuperate.
It’s far better to be kind towards yourself rather than thinking you need to keep pushing because where does it end? You’ll keep pushing and pushing and before you know it, you’ve been doing it for decades and haven’t achieved what you want. It’s normal to have moments of self-doubt and inadequacy but what’s far more important is, when we hit those moments, we provide a far more reactive solution to self-care. Look at what will help you rebuild, whether it’s meditation, mindfulness, yoga, time off work; there are a million solutions. It’s about finding what really works for you.
The Positive/Negative Reset
If we feel inadequate, it is easier to focus on the negative parts of ourselves. One of the fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is about challenging those negative thoughts that stem from negative self-talk. Gradually over time, you replace those negative ones with realistic or more balanced thoughts about yourself and your abilities. Positive self-talk is an excellent example of this that you can practise without needing to go to a CBT counsellor. You should also identify on your positive qualities rather than dwelling on perceived inadequacies.
There is a feedback loop that occurs when we start to continually think about the bad things about ourselves. These can be exacerbated, depending on the environments we inhabit. You may have incredibly unhelpful family members who criticise you or toxic friends and it’s about having that ability to step back and see the bigger picture. If you find there are negative influences in your life, you’ve got to figure out how to slowly reduce those influences in a way that’s healthy for you.
Sometimes we can feel that we are just too nice to others and therefore we think we shouldn’t upset people but if you feel inadequate, it’s highly likely because you’ve spent a lot of time working towards helping others rather than helping yourself.
Whether it’s seeking the body you want or making a reset in life, feeling inadequate is one of those things that happens to us all. We have to remember it’s okay to not be perfect in every aspect of our lives. It doesn’t help that we feel we need to be something more. But ultimately, at the end of the day, the only thing you can be is yourself. If you ever feel inadequate, it’s far better for you to have an understanding of how to work on you.