Table of Contents
You feel stupid.
And you think that it's the truth.
Let me correct that.
You believe that you are stupid with every fiber of your being.
But you know what?
When you say or think, "Why am I so stupid?", you probably just have anxiety like I do.
Let's go through everything my anxious brain says to try to convince me I'm stupid:
Why am I so unintelligent?
Why am I so dumb and useless?
Why am I so stupid and slow?
Why am I so stupid and lazy?
The list goes on and one.
But it's not true.
You know why?
Because people who feel stupid are often quite caring.
They just don't want to burden others with what they don't know.
And there's more you're about to know in the next five minutes.
To start, would you rather be arrogant, or would you rather feel stupid?
I'd rather admit that I'm human than think that I know everything there is to know.
Still, your feelings are your feelings.
And it can help to know the reasons why you're asking "Am I stupid?" and why you're not actually a stupid person.
1. Intelligence is Context-Dependent (Why Asking, "Am I Stupid?" is Actually a Good Sign)
You've probably heard the following quote attributed to Einstein.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
All intelligence is context-dependent.
If you are feeling stupid, you are probably just a bit out of your element.
You probably just need to learn more, or you need to move to a totally different environment.
If you add the word "yet" to your vocabulary, you can gradually teach your brain to relax.
What do I mean by that exactly?
"Yet" is a game-changer because it's teaching your brain that nothing is final.
Everything is a continuation of continuations.
"Nothing endures but change" is one of the truisms I live by.
When was the last time you were an expert at something the first time you tried it?
You are currently smart in some contexts and stupid in others, but I would even hesitate to use the word, "stupid."
You are simply not intelligent. Yet.
And asking, "Am I stupid?" is a sign that you have a beginner's mindset, which is exactly what you need to get good at something.
I've lived through episodes in my life of feeling completely lost, and it was usually because I was spending time in environments that weren't good for my natural strengths.
You are learning. And there is nothing wrong with having a beginner's mind.
And that's because there's one thing that smart people do that others don't...
2. Smart People Don't Think They're Smart
Smart people fully embrace the notion of a beginner's mind.
Smart people don't think they know everything.
Even the brilliant Einstein himself was in awe of the physical world and amazed by how much he didn't know.
Smart people are not smart they've solved all of the world's mysteries.
Smart people are smart because they know what they know--and know what they don't.
This is a trait I've found in intelligent people time and time again.
I like to think I know a thing or two about writing.
But that's only because I've been writing online for many, many years.
Still, I know there's so much I have to learn.
I don't think I'm a smart writer.
I'm just a writer, a mere human who enjoys honing his craft.
3. You Just Don't Know Enough About Common Mental Mistakes Yet
Have you heard of the term "mental model?"
A fancier way to say it is "heuristic."
In all honesty, they're the same things, but "educated" people like to use the more complicated word.
Mental models, or heuristics, are tricks of the mind that can be almost universally applied.
Like the fact that people perceive something that is more expensive to be of higher value even when it's not always the case.
But marketers and store owners can use this mental model to hack into people's brains and get them to spend more money.
Or the fact that knowing what you don't know is actually a mental model.
It's called the circle of competence.
When you know what you know--and what you don't--you actually have an advantage over others who think they understand something they don't.
In the end, mental mistakes are just a few lessons away from becoming your new favorite mental models.
4. You're Actually Dealing With Emotional Pain
I said from the beginning that feeling stupid can actually be a sign that you have anxiety.
It can also be a sign of depression and other mental health challenges.
If you are a person who often thinks, "Why am I so stupid?" you might just be a human who is predisposed to certain mental health challenges.
There's nothing wrong with that--it just means that you have to become aware of what ails you and work a bit harder than most to correct the imbalanced thinking.
Here's are some big questions about feeling stupid:
The last time you asked, "Why am I stupid?", what was going on in your life?
Did it actually have to do with a test of your intelligence?
Or were you merely having an uncomfortable emotion?
When you are feeling stupid, you have to question where that feeling is coming from.
Usually, there are multiple cascading feelings behind your "stupid mistakes."
Silly mistakes are feelings in disguise.
Understand the feelings behind the mistakes--and you realize that you don't need to label them as mistakes at all.
You can just approach the feelings head-on.
Smarter people--again, we are talking about smarter in the relative, context-dependent sense--are smart because they know that mistakes are only temporary.
Beyond that, mistakes are one of the best things that can happen to you, because...
5. Feeling Stupid is Good: Every Mistake is An Opportunity
A mistake is a chance to get more data than you had before.
And with new data comes even more opportunities, because new data allows you to correct your past assumptions and move down a new, more fruitful road.
I've made so many dumb mistakes in my life.
I've used the wrong words while trying to learn languages.
For example, I once told my Mexican host mother that I wanted to perform a sexual function when what I really wanted was a jacket because it was cold outside.
But you know what? I've never forgotten the correct word in Mexico for jacket, which is "chamarra."
And I now have a hilarious story that has brought joy to many, many people for many, many years.
You can't actually learn a language by mastering grammar and vocabulary from a book.
You need to go out into the real world and try it out for yourself.
That learning process is actually another mental model.
It's called "the map is not the territory."
A map can only tell you so much.
It's the mistakes in the real world that will be your true teacher.
In Conclusion: Construct Your Own Answer to "Why Am I So Stupid?"
We feel stupid because we are stupid in a sense.
And now you know that feeling stupid is not a bad thing.
Because if you add the word "yet" to your vocabulary, you will be well on your way to adopting the mindset you need to discard your limiting beliefs.
What you're really grappling with is not stupidity but a feeling. A state of being.
Analyze the state of being, and you'll begin to understand you're a human just like everyone else.
Study the reasons you're not stupid that we've covered here.
Commit them to memory.
You now know more than you did a few minutes ago.
And it's the start of removing your dead weight of stupidity so that you can feel the lightness of true human intelligence and always learn as you go.