Every situation has a silver lining – discover a mindset that heals and enlightens.

October 26, 2021 · 9 min read

feel stupid
A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval. ~ Mark Twain

From a person that felt the same way, I can reassure that you’re wrong thinking so about yourself.


I understand that some situations are infuriating and frustrating. It looks hopeless and as if almost you’re screwed and you are a disappointment. The bliss of hope doesn’t seem to be even close.


That’s because you’re looking at the wrong direction.

If you feel stupid that doesn’t mean you’re not intelligent. Notice that when you say “I feel stupid” it’s just a feeling. Even if you’d say, “I’m stupid”, that’s only an opinion. Even IQ test can’t judge your general intelligence.


You can find life areas where you are incredibly intelligent but you’re simply not aware of it.

Here I will provide you with reasons why do you feel like that and how to correct it.

If not IQ, then what determines my intelligence and success?

One of the major influences on your intelligence and success is emotional intelligence. This type of social intelligence helps you to control your and others’ emotions, distinguish them and use this information to carry out actions.


This type of intelligence is vitally important for you to succeed anywhere. That’s because you need to learn to navigate through people and solve emotional problems.

Another major influence is grit. It defines cognitive control that determines your perseverance for long-term ambitions even if you face obstacles. It’s tenfolds more powerful than any motivation.


It affects some of your life areas, such as understanding how to manage negative emotions, controlling your instincts, holding attention, and possessing enthusiasm to continuously improve.

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A study has revealed that cognitive control has more impact on your success than IQ does. Academic results and abilities don’t predict how well you do in life.


That’s why you hear all the time people who didn’t perform well academically achieved in life way more than those who showed exceptional results in schools or universities.

11 Signs of feeling stupid

Here are common characteristics that make people feel dumb:

  1. You think your memory is weak.
  2. You feel vulnerable.
  3. You think other people are smarter than you.
  4. You don’t do well academically.
  5. You feel as if you are not creative.
  6. Your mind goes blank.
  7. You feel that you have no talents or skills.
  8. You say embarrassing things.
  9. You fear mistakes.
  10. You panic when you face a challenge.
  11. You don’t know what to do in life.

These signs don’t make you automatically feel unintelligent. They only correlate with the emotion that you feel. There are a lot of reasons why you feel that way and what you can do about that.

Does everyone feel stupid?

The short answer is yes – majority of people feel stupid. If you are concentrated only in one area, you will always feel dumb and disappointed in yourself, especially if that’s the area that you aren’t very good at.


The longer answer is that if a person is aware of other variables that influence your overall knowledge, he won’t feel stupid. Intelligence comes in different forms, such as linguistic, spatial, musical, interpersonal, logical, and others.

Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on. ~ Maxwell Maltz

Realistically, it’s impossible to excel in every category of intelligence. If you will start drowning in negative thoughts, you will always feel dumb, no matter how you look in front of the others.


Picture Elon Musk – he’s our modern age innovator and public leader of newest technologies. Rarely who would ever doubt that he feels unintelligent or not smart. However, we can see him speaking publicly and his ideas don’t flow as easily and coherent.

Does that make him not smart? Absolutely not. He underlines his other strengths and he’s very down to Earth. That’s why he’s likable and people admire him. He found his route to intelligence and success in his own way.

11 Reasons why you feel stupid

Here are 11 reasons why you might feel stupid. Going through them might help you find out what’s the cause for you to feel like that:

  1. You are too harsh for yourself.
  2. You lack self-esteem.
  3. You ignore that everything requires hard work.
  4. The more you have, the more you want.
  5. You don’t get enough sleep.
  6. You don’t get out of your comfort zone.
  7. You don’t analyze your mistakes.
  8. You judge yourself based on only a single or few parameters.
  9. You have limiting beliefs.
  10. You aren’t patient.
  11. You are in a negative and full of criticism environment.

10 Reasons Why You’re Not Stupid

1. You acknowledge your mistakes

Acknowledging mistakes is already a proof of intelligence.


Here’s why.


Dunning-Kruger effect is based on the theory that people who believe they know everything actually know very little, thus overestimating their own ability. On the other hand, people who know a lot about a subject, underestimate their abilities at executing a task.

feel stupid

The reality becomes distorted and people that know nothing bark more than those who know more than them. It’s an internal illusion that happens for both types of people.


People that are not self-aware are too ignorant recognizing their mistakes and lack of knowledge. They don’t evaluate their competence well enough.

While this phenomenon occurs more rarely in a proper academic environment, in real life environment there are plenty of examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect.


Despite the Dunning-Kruger effect, acknowledging your mistakes is a sign of integrity and honesty. It helps you to understand where you went wrong and can help you to learn more about the situation. Realistically, that’s how you become more intelligent.

2. You’ve got your focus wrong

One of the reasons why you might feel stupid is that you are doing what you don’t enjoy. In other words, you haven’t found your passion.


It doesn’t matter if you will be very average or below average what you are passionate about in terms of skills.


The most crucial element what drives people to greatness is the passion to learn. Eventually you will master your passion and it will give you a boost of confidence.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A very valid reason for you feeling stupid is that you haven’t found anything where you’re good at. Having no achievement to hold on can reduce your self-esteem.


Forcing yourself to do things that you don’t enjoy will never result in satisfaction.

Instead, you have to find a good and interesting process plan that you would be engaged with and follow thoroughly. That will surely lead you to mastering a few skills and will boost your self-value.

3. You want to improve

Going with the flow leads nowhere.


Cognitive growth can be only achieved by investing yourself into developing your intelligence. All of this is achievable thanks to your ‘investment traits. They define how, where, when you invest the time into your intelligence development.

feel stupid

Continuous learning will improve your knowledge and skills on a particular topic. You will be years ahead of a person that wastes his natural talent without taking time to nurture it.


I know a few people that wasted their potential by sitting too much in the same place and doing nothing. They were naturally gifted, but their grit was too low. Now they are envious of people that worked hard and achieved more than them.

Therefore, you can never learn enough in one field. There’s always something you can learn and gain advantage. Even if you are just starting, don’t lose hope and just stick with it. You need to trust the process and understand that every new concept takes time to get used to it.

4. You care and worry

It was found that people who worry a lot tend to be more verbally intelligent. People that worry less tend to score better in nonverbal intelligence.



Verbal intelligence is very important in developing qualities like comprehending and solving complicated problems, using logical reasoning, developing your memory, and more.

Nevertheless, worrying about things proves that you don’t blindly trust everything and you try to validate the situation.


Worrying helps you to prepare better for negative experiences and develop a superior appreciation for positive experiences.

5. You don’t put all your efforts in one basket

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. ~ Miguel de Cervantes

While the quote above refers more to financial topics, it’s also applicable in diversifying your skills and knowledge.


People who devote their time only in one life area have great chances to be experts in that field. There’s no doubt about that.


However, neglecting other areas of life may hurt your overall understanding and outlook about life. Therefore, diversifying your knowledge in other areas is a sign of knowledge.

I know one person that excels in his field – he’s a surgeon. Nevertheless, there’s almost nothing to talk about aside from medicine. He’s not very bright about other fields in life: financials, relationships, general problem solving, basics of maintaining a house, etc.


Still, he’s a very intelligent person and I highly admire him. However, just because you’re not like him (profession wise), it doesn’t make you dumber.

6. You are overachiever

Overachieving can lead you to success in life. Your chances of achieving goals dramatically increase because of your perseverance and always being not enough for yourself.


However, you will have to pay the price for it. Overachieving may bring imbalance in your life and your mental health may suffer.


Overachievers often sacrifice their happiness and it’s not a surprise that the costs outweigh the rewards. Because what can be more important than happiness?

feel dumb

Surely, if the life is just starting young people aim to gain as much money as possible and sacrifice their 20s and even 30s. Happiness is left in the second place.


Failures can be devastating for an overachiever, that’s why you may feel like an idiot. Your expectations are not met and you disappoint yourself. That might become a source of anxiety and stress.

All in all, if you recognize the patterns and can reflect on your achievements, you will soon understand that you aren’t stupid.


Only your inner self-critic might not be accepting this fact. In reality, you are a perfectionist seeking for precision.

7. Imposter syndrome

A lot of people face imposter syndrome when they start a new job, college, or university. They feel like they don’t belong there.


I felt that feeling too. I felt stupid and too unqualified.


I worked more than ever to compensate my self-image. Still, I felt incompetent.

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. ~ William James

Imposter syndrome happens due to self-doubt and being too overwhelmed by the challenges. Though, people that feel like impostors try to protect their ego. It’s very fragile.


Impostors feel very intelligent and competent and don’t want to show vulnerability. That’s why you might feel stupid.

I must underline that you might not feel intelligent or anything else when being an impostor. Everything happens unconsciously.


The main idea in this section is that you’re most likely not afraid to face a failure. You’re afraid to look stupid in front of the others.


That’s why you keep on working, working, and more working. You try to compensate yourself and maintain your perfect image, at least that’s how you think others see you.


Therefore, you’re not stupid. You just have an imposter’s syndrome.

8. Put everything in a perspective

Everything boils down to your achievements. Have you spent some time to reflect your accomplishments?


Most likely no.


That’s the mentality of desiring for more and more. It’s a natural human instinct to behave like that. We often forget to reflect how far we’ve come.

feel dumb

Look, even if you’ve finished your school and college, you might still feel like an idiot. Though, I understand where that comes from.


Still, you’ve managed to learn and study for more than a decade. That’s a remarkable achievement. Your life is in front of you with a lot of opportunities.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s, or 60s. It’s never too late to reflect on your achievements and validate your self-worth.


You need to sit down and write down your all achievements. You won’t be able to organize them properly in your mind. Think really well starting from your youngest days till now what you’ve achieved so far.


Your life is still ahead in front of you to justify your intelligence.

9. You live up by societal expectations

Social norms unconsciously shape your goals and move you further away from your true self. Just because you can’t get an A in academics, doesn’t mean you’re worthless and stupid.


A lot of people believe that academic performance shape your life and define what you will achieve in life. We’ve debunked this myth in the beginning of this post.

One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself. ~ Shannon L. Alder

You don’t have to bang your head against a wall if you don’t meet societal expectations. Let people live in their small world and let yourself do your things. You have greater problems to solve than meeting up to someone’s expectations.


Don’t constraint yourself in limiting beliefs. You need to find yourself  and live your own life.

10. You’re interested in music

If you are playing a musical instrument, here’s a bonus for you.


A study has illustrated that kids who were taking a part in music lessons were superior to their peers in forms of verbal intelligence, inhibition, and planning.

feeling stupid

Playing a musical instrument can also benefit you in other different ways:

  • Increase creativity.
  • Increase memory potential.
  • Using nearly every part of the brain.
  • Develop appreciation and gratitude.

Like Albert Einstein has once said: “Life without playing music is inconceivable to me. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. I get most joy in life out of music”.

Playing an instrument improves abstract reasoning skills and stimulates brain. It’s a very fun and beneficial way to spend your spare time.


So, if you’re playing an instrument, that proves once again that you’re not stupid.

8 Things to do not to feel stupid

1. Recognize what you aren’t good at

The sooner you’ll stop trying to validate yourself in areas that you don’t enjoy, the faster you’ll regain your self-esteem.


If you notice patterns which signal you that you aren’t good at a certain occupation, consider switching the approach. Perhaps you need to change the way you approach a goal? Here’s a video that explains more about goals and happiness:

As soon as you find something to do what you enjoy, you will become tenfolds happier and feel enlightened. Working towards your passion make you go through new experiences that satisfy you and increase your self-esteem.

2. Step out of your comfort zone

Being stuck in one place can stop you from seeing a whole different point of view. You will open your mind in variety of ways if you take a step into the unknown.


Sometimes all it takes to open your chakras is to step outside and be inspired.

To accept ourselves as we are means to value our imperfections as much as our perfections. ~ Sandra Bierig

To give a very brief example, fixing a car and learning math seems not correlated at all, which is partially true. However, getting ideas and inspirations from other activities, in this case fixing a car, can give encouragement to approach a math problem from different perspective.


Therefore, I encourage you to be as diverse as possible. Gradually you will notice positive improvements in your character and analytical thinking.

3. Approach difficulties slowly

People tend to be impatient and want fast results.


That’s why a lot of people feel stupid and take the blame on themselves or others for not accomplishing their tasks.


The key is slow but persistent progress. It allows you not to overburn and build momentum.  Persistency allows you to focus on your strengths and abilities rather than hoping for some kind of luck to fall down from the sky.

feel like an idiot

For example, it’s always a better idea to solve math problems for 20 minutes each day instead of spending 3 hours in one day per week. Such approach will help your mind to adapt to the concepts gradually and more efficiently.


Consistency is the key. Your achievements depend on your determination and never settling for less than you deserve.

4. Learn from your and others’ mistakes

Analyzing your mistakes makes you more mindful and aware of your imperfections and where you should improve yourself at.


To be fair, there are no mistakes in life. Mistakes are opportunities for self-growth. These opportunities teach us what can be done better and gives us encouragement to create new ways to solve a problem.

The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself. ~ Mark Twain

In all transparency, learning from your own mistakes is the most effective way. That’s because your mind tells you not to repeat the same mistake again.


However, that’s not the best practice. If you can learn from others, you will feel less stupid making your own mistakes. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t feel stupid making a mistake in the first place. Don’t judge yourself for mistakes.

As soon as your self-esteem becomes higher, doing mistakes won’t be an issue for your confidence. Oppositely, it will become a source of strength and knowledge.

5. Focus on your health

Depriving yourself from sleep and exercise can make your mind feel blurry. In other words, your mental abilities become sloppy and you might feel as incompetent person.


You must sleep a sufficient amount of sleep, which is 7-9 hours a day. It will make you feel more fresh, have better mood, increase your productivity, improve memory, and much more.

feel unintelligent

Exercising releases happiness hormones – endorphins. You feel more positive, uplifted, and more energetic. Happiness can increase your productivity somewhere from 20 to 30 percent according to psychologist Shawn Achor.


Enrichening your diet with ‘brain nutrients’, such as omega 3, magnesium, calcium, etc., can also improve your mental abilities.


Healthy lifestyle is not only important for our mental performance, but also for our overall happiness and health itself.

6. Be around smart people

I truly understand that being around smart people can be demotivating because you might feel stupid. However, think of being around smart people as a grateful gift for you to become a smarter person. Staying around smart people is one of the most effective ways to challenge your mind to think differently.

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. ~ Sir Edmund Hillary

Think in this way: would you rather be with people that are dumber than you, or would you rather be with smarter people than you? What would be more beneficial?


The answer is very clear and there’s no doubt about that.


You need to learn how smart people think instead of learning the facts. You can learn facts in books or Google. Leverage the advantage of being around smart people. Become a sponge and challenge your thoughts.

7. Develop limitless mind

Limitless mind speaks for itself – there are no boundaries for such mindset.


Limitless mind allows you to overcome any obstacle in your life by narrowing your focus very clearly on your final goal.

This mindset is based on continuous and never-ending improvement.


Once you grasp the basics of this mind, you’ll never look back. You will never feel silly again.

8. Seek for help

Sometimes the best therapy in solving your self-image issues is by having one-on-one talk. There could be a lot of different reasons to your dissatisfaction about yourself.

Also, having a therapist that could lead your worries to a brighter place is very beneficial. That’s because you will achieve your desired result a lot quicker than on your own. It could save you a lot of hassle and headaches.

Final Words From Delightful Mindset

Feeling stupid comes from lack of self-esteem and not being happy with your activity. Not only that, but also having a complex to fail in front of the others doesn’t help at all.

The key is re-routing the process to your goal or finding a passion that you enjoy. If you are happy with what you’re doing, you won’t find any problem to improve yourself. Your self-esteem will boost up, you will feel happy, uplifted, and most importantly, smart.