You’re intelligent. Yes, you. Reading this.
If you’ve wound up on this page, chances are that at some point or another in your life, you’ve felt stupid. We all do. Unfortunately, it’s really only psychopaths that never, ever doubt their own abilities.
Whilst some people will worry about it far more than others, even those who appear confident and successful on the outside will have moments when they feel stupid.
However, whilst it’s only human to doubt your own abilities, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it, that doesn’t mean you should allow it to become a pattern.
It’s all a matter of adjusting your mindset and focusing on the myriad of strengths that you do, beyond a shadow of a doubt, have, and not letting the things you might not be quite so amazing at hold you back.
If you find yourself feeling a little stupid sometimes, then you’ve come to the right place. Read on for a few reminders why you’ve got so much to give.
1. Poor academic performance means nothing.
Generally speaking, modern society tends to put an awful lot of emphasis on academic education, although we are, finally, starting to come to the realization that academia most definitely isn’t everything.
People that perform well in academic environments, thriving under exam conditions, getting their head around equations in seconds or being able to structure an academic essay, are viewed, by many, as being the epitome of intelligence.
But just because your brain turns to mush when you’re put in a quiet room with a ticking clock, doesn’t mean that you’re worth any less than someone who does well in that kind of environment.
The thing is, we’ve got the word intelligence all wrong. Essay writing or equation solving is not the only sign of intelligence.
Your strengths might be more creative or practical than they are academic. You might have an incredible eye for detail, wonderful hand-eye coordination, excellent perception… the list goes on.
Whilst academia might not be your strongest point, you may well be incredibly emotionally or socially intelligent, something which very academic people can sometimes lack.
It might be a stereotype, but I wouldn’t mind betting that if you think back to school, you can remember a few of your classmates who, whilst they always aced that maths test, couldn’t seem to relate to the people around them no matter how hard they tried.
The people that really thrive in life generally have a balance of all these kinds of intelligence, and know how to make the most of their strengths and compensate for their slightly weaker areas.
2. Imposter syndrome is more common than you might think.
It’s very important to realize that you’re not the only one that feels this way.
No matter how qualified we are for something in theory and how ‘well-educated’ we are in theory, we all sometimes feel like we’re just playing at life and work.
We are convinced that someone is going to turn round one day, realize we’re actually an imposter, and send us home.
Being aware of the fact that we all have this feeling sometimes, even those of us who have the most successful professional lives, can help make it clear to you that it really is all in your head.
It’s your inner caveperson that doesn’t like being pushed out of their comfort zone that’s talking.
3. We all have something to offer the world that’s unique to just us.
No other human on this planet has exactly the same gifts as you do.
We’re all born blessed with a particular set of talents, and the things we learn and the experiences we have throughout our lives shape us, producing an individual overflowing with gifts that are different to anyone else’s.
That’s the beauty of humanity. If we were all Einstein, we’d never get anywhere, as we can’t all spend our days in laboratories. Society just doesn’t work that way.
If we all truly embraced and made full use of our talents and strengths, rather than worrying about not being good enough, the world would be a much better place.
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4. Learning is lifelong.
When you’re a child, you’re normally under the impression that once you do those final exams and escape the clutches of the schooling system you’ll have learned everything you need to know and will be a fully formed human being.
You don’t realize that the learning process actually never stops. Work is just school in another guise, and you learn new things with every interaction you have with another human being.
That means, if you feel like there are gaps in your knowledge, you can always plug them. You can always take a course. You can always go back to school. You can always teach yourself something new.
Stop telling yourself that you just aren’t any good at learning languages or painting, or whatever it may be, and just go and do it.
It’s absolutely never too late to learn a new skill or fill in any gaps in your knowledge. Grab life by the horns and make full use of that incredible brain of yours.
5. Life experience counts for an awful lot.
You learn something new absolutely every day. Every day you spend on this planet enriches your life experience, and the bank that you build up helps you make better decisions.
If you sometimes think you’re stupid, think about how far you’ve come in your lifetime and how much you’ve learned just by simply living.
Think about all the things you can do now that you never could before, and all the tough times you’ve come through.
6. Every mistake is a lesson.
Think about it. If you’d never made a mistake in your life, would you ever have learned anything? I know I wouldn’t. It’s when you fall off the horse that you learn how to stop it bucking you off next time.
It’s when you fail that exam that you really put the effort in to revise the next time around.
It’s when you say the wrong thing and hurt someone’s feelings that you learn how to be more sensitive to other people’s feelings.
It’s when you take a punt on the wrong person or the wrong opportunity that you learn what to look out for in future, and don’t make the same mistake again.
If we never made any mistakes, there would be absolutely nothing driving us to be better or do better in future.
7. You’re your own biggest critic.
Often, when we say we feel stupid, we’re actually worried that the people around us – our family, friends, or colleagues – think we’re stupid.
As humans, we’re very self-centered, so we assume that other people are spending their time thinking about something silly we’ve done or said.
The truth is, the person you’re convinced is looking down on you is probably just as full of their own insecurities, and is too busy worrying about what people think of them to have any time to think about you.
You, yourself, are the only one who actually dedicates any significant portion of time to criticizing the things you do or say, or you as a person.
Try to catch yourself when you’re internally criticizing something you’ve done and ask yourself whether you’d ever dream of saying those things to another person.
If you wouldn’t, then you shouldn’t be saying them to yourself, either. Focus on your strengths and the kinds of intelligence you have in spades.
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