How to Present Yourself Positively Even with Feelings of Inadequacy

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Many of us feel tense, afraid, or inadequate in speaking in front of people and teaching.  We are plagued with the nagging “What-Ifs.”  What if I don’t know the answer.  What if I forget part of the lesson.  What if…

These thoughts and feelings can get the better of us if we allow ourselves to dwell on them.   When they come, take steps to overcome those problems. For example:

What if I don’t know the answer.

·        You can start to read the scriptures daily.  This does not guarantee that you will know all the answers, but it does begin to prepare you for many of them.

·        We need to remember that we do not have to have all the answers.

·        We can turn the question over to the learners by saying something like, “Class what do you think?”

·        We can ask, “What do the scriptures tell us about the subject?”  Then have the learners look the answer up in the scripture helps.

·        We can assign someone to report on the subject for next week.

·        We can promise to find the answer ourselves or ask others for next week.  


What if I forget part of the lesson.

·        You can take the time to read your lesson manual and prepare it properly, early in the week.

·        You can reread the lesson frequently through the week.

·        You can practice giving the lesson out loud several times just as if you were actually doing it.

·        You can make a simple outline to follow that will allow you to see where you are at a glance.  This way you will not loose your learners by reading the manual and you will be able to have eye contact with them most of the time.

Since we all feel inadequate, we sometimes find ourselves apologizing for it. 

Never apologize!


Not for having rain smeared posters, a forgotten picture, or having to teach at the last minute.  The apology make the learners uncomfortable by starting the class off on a negative note.  The feel embarrassed for you and wish they were not there to witness your embarrassment!  From there on, everything tends to go wrong.  Do not set yourself up for failure.  Never, never apologize!

Whatever the problem the show must go on.  Be professional!  Just plunge right in positively, with a smile, and a prayer in your heart.  Just do the best you can! The learners will usually take their cue from you!  If it doesn’t bother you, they will probably be comfortable with it too.  Just fake it ‘til you make it!

If the problem is that you feel inadequate in everything you do, then you have a problem with low self esteem.  If this is the case then you need to deal with it now, before it gets worse and keeps you from becoming the capable person you need to be to do well in this life and in the next!

The following articles talk about what low self esteem is like and what to do to get over it.  They help you to see what high self esteem looks like so you know what you are shooting for.  When you want to change your behavior to a more positive one you can…

·        See how others are doing it and emulate them.

·        You can read articles and books on the subject.

·        You can pray for help.

·        You can set goals which have smaller steps to help you reach them.

·        You can act as if you already have it.  Just fake it ‘til you make it! 


Self Esteem

Matt Wright

Questionnaire - How are you?

Answer TRUE or FALSE (honestly!) to each of these questions: T or F

·        I generally feel as competent as my peers.  

·        I usually feel I can achieve whatever I want  

·        Whatever happens to me is mostly in my control.  

·        I rarely worry about how things will work out.  

·        I am confident that I can deal with most situations.  

·        I rarely doubt my ability to solve problems.  

·        I rarely feel guilty for asking others to do things.  

·        I am rarely upset by criticism.  

·        Even when I fail, I still do not doubt my basic ability.  

·        I am very optimistic about my future.  

·        I feel that I have quite a lot to offer an employer.  

·        I rarely dwell for very long on personal setbacks.  

·        I am always comfortable in disagreeing with my boss.  

·        I rarely feel that I would like to be somebody else.  


Fewer true answers = lower self esteem


How you feel about yourself depends on who you compare yourself with.

Healthy self esteem means thinking as highly of yourself as you think of your peers.

Excessive self esteem = grandiosity, like too much organization = obsessiveness.

High self esteem is compatible with humility.

Humility is not the same as self effacement.

The right balance should place you mid way between grandiosity and self effacement .


To maintain healthy self esteem:

·        Forgive yourself for your mistakes

·        Celebrate your strengths and achievements

·        We are so used to negative feedback that we are more aware of our weaknesses

·        Set achievable targets and get regular feedback

·        Change the way you talk to yourself - stop putting yourself down

·        Be sure that you are not judging yourself against unreasonable standards

·        Beating yourself for your weaknesses is self defeating


Why do you think you have so few strengths worth celebrating?

Because everyone has always pointed out your shortcomings - as you do yourself?

Because you rarely get any positive feedback for a job well done?

Because the things you do well are so familiar to you that you take them for granted?

Because you have learned to focus only on your mistakes?


Audit your strengths!

·        This is not as easy as it seems because you will have discounted your strengths.

·        Find a good listener to help you review everything you have done.

·        Anyone who hasn't done what you've done will be more objective about what you can do.

·        Discuss every work and non-work project you have been involved in over the last 5 years.

·        Strive to avoid discounting the other person's attempts to name your strengths.

·        Celebrate your strengths.

·        Make a list of your strengths and read it to yourself regularly, adding to it as you go.

·        Praise yourself for what you have achieved.

·        Compare yourself favorably with peers who have not done what you have done.

·        Review your strengths whenever you are feeling particularly defeated.


Without feedback, our imagination runs wild and we lose touch with reality.

In a negative frame of mind, we exaggerate negative thoughts about ourselves.

The thought of feedback is frightening as we expect confirmation of our worst fears.

Actual feedback is more objective and we are surprised at how positive it is.

The best way to get honest feedback is through an anonymous questionnaire.

Like any business, you need accurate feedback from all your key customers.

You will get some negative feedback, as will everyone.

The key is to CELEBRATE the positive feedback and plan to improve in the other areas.

Use regular feedback as a way of maintaining perspective on yourself.

Your self esteem will rise as you see how little it takes to really please people.

People with low self esteem are unhappy with themselves.

It is possible to have OK self esteem and still be unhappy.

This means that you feel basically OK about yourself but are unhappy with some of the circumstances of your life.

You could be unhappy with your relationships, career or finances, to name just a few critical life circumstances.

Unhappiness may be due to a specific circumstance in your life, but the feeling is all encompassing.

It is hard to feel happy about some things and unhappy about others at the same time.

Small things can tip the scales to make us feel happy or unhappy.

Thus we all have happy and unhappy moods - feelings that do not last long.

Often we shift from unhappy to happy just with the passage of a little time.

Or something happens to tip the balance towards a happy mood

Something as simple as warm sunshine on a cool day or a refreshing breeze on a hot day

But what if you are unhappy most of the time?

What can you do to shift yourself to a happier mood?

Unhappy people may have genuine problems with relationships, career, finances or whatever.

Changing your circumstances might make you happier but this may not be very easy.


What else can you do?

·        Try to avoid dwelling on what is making you unhappy - but thinking alone won't get you far.

·        It can help to be active - do things that make you happy and try to take more pleasure in them.

·        Even physical exercise can shift your brain chemistry towards a happier state.

·        Try to take a different perspective on your life as a whole.


Imagine that you just arrived at your dream holiday destination.

Would you let the fact that your holiday has to end spoil your holiday?

What about mishaps and setbacks --- short of being killed, seriously injured or mugged?

Would you not strive to enjoy your dream holiday in spite of minor mishaps?

Or would you waste your whole holiday feeling sorry for yourself?

If you thought of your whole life as a dream holiday, would you not seek to make more of it?

Why should you regard your life as the holiday of a lifetime?

But can you imagine all the great things you would have missed if you had never been born?

Just being born can be seen as equivalent to winning the holiday of a lifetime

You can view your life however you want. It's your choice.

But if you have an excessively negative attitude towards your life or circumstances, you may want to ask yourself if it isn't your own self esteem that is a problem rather than your external circumstances.

It is easy to be defensive by dumping bad feelings about ourselves on convenient external scapegoats.

Constantly criticizing everything around us is one way of helping us feel better about ourselves.

But this way of ridding ourselves of unhappy feelings is no more constructive than abusing substances.

So, becoming happier requires being active, changing what we can change, accepting what we cannot change, trying not to blame others or circumstances for our misfortunes, valuing what we have and developing a more positive attitude to our lives.


 Twelve Valuable Steps to Raise Your Self Esteem

Barbara Braham

As adults, we can choose the messages we accept or reject. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission."

Building high self-esteem is a process, not something you can develop overnight," says Jeffrey Keller. "Yet, I believe every person has the capacity of high self-esteem. The question is, are you ready to make a commitment to increase your self-esteem?"

If your answer is yes, here are 12 steps to get you started:

Step One

Stop comparing yourself with other people. There will always be some people who have more than you and some who have less. If you play the comparison game, you'll run into too many "opponents" you can't defeat.

Step Two

Stop putting yourself down. You can't develop high self-esteem if you repeat negative phrases about yourself and your abilities. Whether speaking about your appearances, your career, your relationships, your financial situation, or any other aspects of your life, avoid self-deprecating comments.

Step Three

Accept all compliments with "thank you." Ever received a compliment and replied," Oh, it was nothing." When you reject a compliment, the message you give yourself is that you are not worthy of praise. Respond to all compliments with a simple Thank You."

Step Four

Use affirmations to enhance your self-esteem. On the back of a business card or small index card, write out a statement such as "I like and accept my self." or "I am valuable, lovable person and deserve the best in life." Carry the card with you. Repeat the statement several times during the day, especially at night before going to bed and after getting up in the morning. Whenever you say the affirmation, allow yourself to experience positive feelings about your statement.

Step Five

Take advantage of workshops, books and cassette tape programs on self-esteem. Whatever material you allow to dominate mind will eventually take root and affect your behavior. If you watch negative television programs or read newspaper reports of murders and business rip off; you will grow cynical and pessimistic. Similarly, if you read books or listen to programs, that are positive in nature, you will take on these characteristics.

Step Six

Associate with positive, supportive people. When you are surrounded by negative people who constantly put you and your ideas down, your self-esteem is lowered. On the other hand, when you are accepted and encouraged, you feel better about yourself in the best possible environment to raise your self-esteem.

Step Seven

Make a list of your past successes. This doesn't necessarily have to consist of monumental accomplishments. It can include your "minor victories," like learning to skate, graduating from high school, receiving an award or promotion, reaching a business goal, etc. Read this list often. While reviewing it, close your eyes and recreate the feelings of satisfaction and joy you experienced when you first attained each success.

Step Eight

Make a list of your positive qualities. Are you honest? Unselfish? Helpful? Creative? Be generous with yourself and write down at least 20 positive qualities. Again, it's important to review this list often. Most people dwell on their inadequacies and then wonder why their life isn't working out. Start focusing on your positive traits and you'll stand a much better chance of achieving what you wish to achieve.

Step Nine

Start giving more. I'm not talking about money. Rather, I mean that you must begin to give more of yourself to those around your. When you do things for others, you are making a positive contribution and you begin to feel more valuable, which, in turn, lifts your spirits and raises your own self-esteem.

Step Ten

Get involved in work and activities you love. It's hard to feel good about yourself if your days are spent in work you despise. Self-esteem flourishes when you are engaged in work and activities that you enjoy and make you feel valuable. Even if you can't explore alternative career options at the present time, you can still devote leisure time to hobbies and activities, which you find stimulating and enjoyable.

Step Eleven

Be true to yourself. Live your own life - not the life others have decided is best for you. You'll never gain your own respect and feel good about yourself if you aren't leading the life you want to lead. If you're making decisions based on getting approval from friends and relatives, you aren't being true to yourself and your self-esteem is lowered.

Step Twelve

Take action! You won't develop high self-esteem if you sit on the sidelines and back away from challenges. When you take action - regardless of the ensuing result - you feel better about yourself. When you fail to move forward because of fear and anxiety, you'll be frustrated and unhappy - and you will undoubtedly deal a damaging blow to your self-esteem.

The "real you" is a magnificent, unique being with enormous potential and capacity for experiencing love of yourself and extending love to others. As your self-esteem grows, this "real you" emerges. You begin to take more risks and not be afraid of failure; you aren't as concerned with getting approval of others; your relationships are much more rewarding; you pursue activities that bring you joy and satisfaction; and you will make a positive contribution to the world. Most importantly, high self esteem brings you peace of mind ... when you're alone, you truly appreciate the person you're with - yourself.

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

If you found this article or website to be of value to you, please click here to support this website with a voluntary donation. $5.00
Suggested payment per online question asked of Annette. $10.00
Suggested payment per hour of phone consultation or counseling. $80.00
Search This Website
Search The Web