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I Felt Inferior My Whole Life. Here's How I Overcame That

Kristin Hartjes, D.C.
Written by Kristin Hartjes, D.C.

I spent much of my life feeling inferior to those around me. I'd walk into a room of people and automatically, almost unconsciously, position myself at the very bottom of the totem pole.

I assumed that every single person around me was somehow better than me — smarter, more attractive, interesting, accomplished. The list goes on. When I interacted with others in all facets of my life, I felt like I was putting on an act to prove my worthiness.

When I finally identified this mindset, I could see how much this dynamic of self-pity and hunger for validation had impacted my self-esteem since my childhood.

Growing up, I often felt overwhelmed and uncomfortable in groups of unfamiliar people. I would hang back and observe before deciding to interact. I was told that I was too shy and too quiet and felt that I paled in comparison to those around me who were more outgoing. It seemed that being gregarious was a requirement for being noticed, accepted and appreciated.

Somehow, I internalized that this was just the way it was, and I knew I would never be that charismatic, popular girl that everyone flocked too. I felt flawed because of it. Rather than identifying my patterns and working to dislodge beliefs that were keeping me stuck, I started searching for superficial ways that I could control my emotional discomfort, which led me down a rabbit hole of self-criticism. In my search for self-improvement, I simply became fixated on my appearance. If only I could look perfect, than I could make up for the fact that I wasn’t bubbly and outgoing.

This led to a decade long battle with an eating disorder and the ongoing quest to compensate for my perceived flaws. No matter how hard I tried to transform myself into the beautiful outgoing person I thought I should be, I could never quite get there.

Becoming an entrepreneur and having to "put myself out there" in a no-nonsense way was what forced me to take off my mask and be myself. Being more authentic and accepting of my whole self (yes, even those pesky "flaws") did wonders for overcoming my feelings of inferiority.

As a coach, it is my unique story, personality and interests that people are attracted to. The more authentic and vulnerable I am, the more my ideal clients connect with my message and are eager to work with me.

Through my work, I realized there is no totem pole of worthiness. We are all on an equal playing field. So when you hop online and admire the success of others, instead of feeling jealous, know that you are capable of achieving the same things.

I now see the truth; we all have the ability to accomplish the things we desire. People who are happy or run successful businesses aren’t smarter, prettier, skinnier, or luckier than anyone else. They just made the decision to go after the things they wanted and were willing to do whatever it took to create a life they love.

Do you hold yourself back in life because you feel inferior and assume that you don’t deserve or aren’t capable of achieving the happiness and success that others enjoy?

Here were the five things I did on my journey that I want to share with you as tips to help you own your truth and claim your worth.

1. Get specific with your terms.

Determine whom you feel inferior to and what about that person makes you feel that way. Acknowledge that these things are available to you too. Let go of your preconceived notions about what these qualities look like and be open to them presenting in ways that are authentic to you.

2. Notice when your mind starts to wander, and bring it back.

"Live in the present moment" isn't just a cliché when it comes to learning to practice greater self-acceptance. Tuning into the patterns of our mind is the first step to becoming conscious of your thoughts, and rerouting them to more productive patterns.

When you notice your mind wandering to thoughts of inferiority or comparison, acknowledge them and then let them go. Instead of engaging with these negative thoughts, which are often about things that have happened in the past or may happen in the future, focus on the present moment.

3. Find your strengths in unexpected places.

I encourage you to get curious about yourself, and try to see your strengths in new ways. From there, celebrate all those things that you are really good at. Often, we focus on the areas where we fall short and dismiss our talents, gifts and accomplishments. Try asking your closest friends, family members or colleagues, “what makes me unique?”

4. Get clear on your desires.

We have desires for a reason: to guide us on our life purpose and journey.

Do you have a vision for how you want your life to look? Do you know what makes you happy? Many of us go through our lives without ever figuring out what we really want. We just go through the motions — doing what we "should" be doing and what is expected of us. Take some time to decide what you want your life to look like. Get clear on what is most important to you and what lights you up.

5. Make an action plan.

The power for change lies in our actions. Start paying attention to your thoughts and honoring your desires. Put your unique strengths to use. Start with something small each day that will help you see the power of setting an intention.

Remember: when you live authentically and with a sense of purpose that is unique to you, you will reconnect with your inherent worthiness.

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