Feeling of Underachievement

Feeling of Underachievement

Am I realistic about my capabilities? Is it underachievement?

Why am I always failing, falling short of the mark and often unable to reach my goals?

I can’t succeed no matter what I do…..

I am never good enough

My peers are so talented, creative and, excellent in their work……


Are we all familiar with such mental dialogues?? These are thoughts that keep haunting us when we set a certain niche for ourselves and are in constant race to be there, achieve more and more, and excel. But when we feel that we are not achieving our goals, not getting what we desire for, we will be quick to assume that we are not doing anything productive with our lives. This sets in disappointment- a feeling of underachievement.

Underachievement means that we are accomplishing less than we expect from ourselves.  There is a constant pessimistic voice inside our head telling us ‘whatever you do, it won’t be good enough, because you are not good enough’. When we feel disappointed in ourselves we grow more insecure towards what we are actually capable of. We tend to ‘perceive’ ourselves to be frequently falling short of our goals and hence we tend to push ourselves to do much more. We burden our mind unnecessarily, constantly compare ourselves with others around, and all of this will ultimately damage our self esteem.

When we do not feel good about ourselves worrisome thoughts about our capabilities cloud our mind due to which our dreams, hopes, aspirations get compromised. We unconsciously act in ways that will only end up in confirming our negative self beliefs. Even if we are highly productive and effective in what we do, it can be easy to see ourselves as underachieving. It’s very important to understand that this habit of putting ourselves down wasn’t anything we were born with. We have programmed our mind to think this way. We need to discern if this thought and feeling of ours is a fact or just an imagination? Firstly, ask yourself, “Did I truly fail at what I set out to do?” We are always in a quest to achieve more and more, and success varies from person to person.

Underachievement can also be the result of poor planning or lack of organization. If we are occasionally failing to meet our set targets and expectations or when we come very close to a goal but miss the mark by a small margin, we need to ask ourselves, ‘Was that really a failure?’ We then need to take a closer look at what is actually preventing us from achieving what we want, so that we can improvise our efforts. Most times we aim too high, set big targets for ourselves and expect to arrive at our destination too quickly.

Underachievers may actually accomplish much in their lives, but do not realize it because of the unrealistically set benchmarks. It’s up to us and us alone to reprogram these not so realistic expectations by perceiving the gap between ‘what I imagine’ and ‘what my actual skill sets are to make it happen’. This self awareness is so essential to plan and organize our priorities and thereby work towards fulfilling the same. Readjusting your goals and expectations is a healthy and productive way to cope with our negative, stressful thoughts. As the saying goes, we have to learn to walk before we can run. Setting smaller, achievable and realistic goals which will be easier to accomplish is the key. It can give us a sense of accomplishment, boosting our confidence and emotional well being.

Know what your goal is.  Know what you are honestly capable of.  Set realistic expectations for yourself, go for it.  

If you feel the need for support in dealing with these disappointed feelings, seek professional help, reach out to us at LeanonMe.


AUTHOR: Prathima, Associate Counsellor

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