Stop Thinking you’re Stupid


If you do think from time to time that you’re stupid or not as intelligent as anyone else, read on! It is very important to note that academic achievements reflect only a slight part of your intelligence. Above all, the way you perform in school/university reflects mostly the efforts you were willing to invest for school and whether you implemented this effort effective or wasted your time. To put it simply: the marks you achieved in school will most likely show your efforts and the time you invested to prepare yourself for the test, but not your level of intelligence!

Intelligence can be supported and improved just as a muscle – by hard training.

Just take a minute in order to get some thoughts on the subject of intelligence:

  • How do you measure intelligence?
  • Whom do you consider to be really intelligent, and why?
  • How is intelligence noticeable?
  • What means intelligence to you?

Intelligence is a comprehensive term for the ability of a human being to express himself verbally, finding solutions for severe problems, gaining knowledge and applying this effectively, getting an overview of complex facts and a lot more things like their perceptivity. It is a fact that the intelligence differs from person to person as well as everyone’s brainpower is pronounced to hundreds of different kinds of abilities like analytical and spatial thinking up to creativeness and linguistic abilities.


Stop telling yourself that you are stupid

The levels of intelligence can’t get evaluated precisely, like our weight or the size of our bodies. Tests can be used to show us our approximate level of intelligence, but due to the fact that those tests concentrate on specific areas (math, spatial thinking, etc.), they aren’t able to provide us an overview of all our abilities.

Unfortunately, we try to classify our own intellect far too quickly by getting influenced by extraneous factors. Probably one of the earliest of those occurring factors is grades in school. Even amongst the youngest pupils, excellent marks are interpreted as a sign of high intelligence (and bad results are considered as proofs for stupidity).

Please keep in mind that your academic performances (in the past and future) won’t reflect even a slight amount of your actual intelligence. Take for example a student that receives with absolutely no effort acceptable grades. Considering his grades he’s just averagely gifted, but I would consider this person as quite clever, especially when considering the ratio between input/effort and his acceptable outcome. So, once you accepted that your grades are no indicator of intellect we can point out the following:

Don’t you ever accept poor grades or other extraneous factors as “facts” for stupidity, which you can’t even affect partial due to your “low intelligence”.

Don’t set yourself limits by your perceived intelligence. As I mentioned earlier: your brain powers can be trained like a muscle. This “muscle” is present from the moment of our birth, but it’s up to us whether we train, strengthen and expand this muscle to exploit its full benefits or if we decide not to use it at all. The level of our intelligence also depends on factors like the social environment we grow up, early childhood education, educational level of our parents, schools visited and the whole effort we invested in training and promoting our intelligence.

It is an extremely positive fact that every person can achieve absolutely everything with specific training, industriousness, diligence, interest and investment of time. Success is not limited to your level of intelligence. But keep in mind that your effort in terms of hard work and aspiration will have to be even bigger the less you used to train your brain in the past.

Density? Here’s another perspective…

Stupidity, density, foolishness, dullness. There are many words for this subject and I hate every one of those, basically to the fact that stupidity does not exist. I agree with everyone that people are less talented, less skilled and are less knowledgeable than others about different kind of topics. Their behavior may also look very ill-conceived and stupid, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t have any kind of intellectual potential.

Just talk to a random person in a football stadium you consider to be stupid. Every one of them will be able to tell you everything about the latest trades, the names of all the current team members, managers, coaches and the hall of fame of their team. But this is not only limited to the teams those people are supporting, they also know the names of dozens of other players from other teams. These are a lot of facts, but would you consider a stupid person to be able to memorize this amount of data? This person was even able to commit all these amazing facts to memory, without having to learn them.

Every human being is equipped with an incredible potential and intellect, which unfortunately is not often used wisely for useful purposes. May I tell you a secret, dear friend?

Dumbness does not exist!

Absolutely no one is “stupid”. Every person simply just forms different interests and values that influence the development of their intelligence and the fact in what kind of areas of our lives we accumulate knowledge, whether it is in sports, TV series or even better in the educational and vocational environments. One of the differences between a successful person and others is that they don’t concentrate on absorbing knowledge about unnecessary facts like the content of various TV shows, but instead focus on the knowledge they can adapt to be successful. A successful person is a master in combining knowledge from different sources and shows interest in a particularly high amount of subjects, not only a few. But, when it really comes to studying, they are absolutely motivated to study, as they are keen on gaining as much knowledge about the topic as possible.

Often certain people are said to be stupid, but in fact, it’s only the disinterest and inability of these particular “stupid-persons” to gain knowledge about subjects that appear boring to them and to which they are facing difficulties to form positive feelings with. This could be the unloved subject math or history as well as a boring job, summarizing: all kinds of areas and subjects that people don’t really want to deal with, have no positive feelings about and where they are not showing the willingness to acquire profound knowledge about.

By the way, thinking oneself is stupid is an absolute negative mindset – a limiting belief if you so want. It suggests us of not being able to achieve everything we want. Remove those words (like dumbness, stupidity, etc.) from your vocabulary. 

Do you agree or disagree with the hypothesis pointed out in this article?

The following articles might also interest you:

Photo by Robert S. Donovan

Stop Thinking you’re Stupid was presented by our Student Guidance Blog.


About Author

Steve is the founder of Planet of Success, the #1 choice when it comes to motivation, self-growth and empowerment. This world does not need followers. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Join us in the quest to live life to the fullest!


  1. I agree. Nobody should think that they are stupid. If you feel stupid then there must be some mistake that you’ve made. Simply find out what’s wrong and exert enough effort to turn the situation around.

  2. Nicoletta Piscà on

    I guess you’re right in this post. People should really stop excoriating themselves and begin to love themselves for what they are, no matter how intelligent-or not.

  3. I have to say I find things like this generally frustrating; the whole “everyone has potential” motivational, feel-good sentiment. This idea that it’s only because people find something boring, that they’re not good at it, and that they are good at the things they enjoy. I’m sorry but this is just not true.

    I am fascinated by computers, I use them every day, I find the subject of Computer Science one of the most interesting subjects in the world – yet I managed to screw up my university course in it. I lasted one year, in that year I did my absolute best, studied hard, did everything I could, and after a whole year I still didn’t understand the most basic aspects of it. None of it made any sense whatsoever, I came away from feeling stupid and still do, I’m now attempting a course in another subject that I actually do find boring, and the exact same thing is happening in that. Finding something interesting does not automatically equal being good at it.

    I don’t want to be one of these people who claims to be stupid and blames everything on their stupidity, so I’m looking for some kind of explanation for why I have this trouble understanding basic things everyone else finds simple, but every time I do, I find things like this website with this same old sentimental crap about how “there’s no such thing as stupidity because…etc”, when explanation for why stupidity doesn’t exist seems to completely contradict what happened to me.

    The analogy of the football fan who might appear stupid but knows tons about football, well I know football fans who don’t even know anything about football, I know people who are equally as confused and unknowledgeable on the subjects they enjoy as well as those they’re not interested in, so how are these people equally as smart as everyone else?

    I’m sorry but this kind misguided “feel-good” advice really annoys me. Some people ARE useless, and this kind of advice isn’t fair on them; it lets them believe that they are in fact useful and smarter than they are, which just makes it ten times worse when they find they can’t understand anything.

    • This, a thousand times over.

      While I may type with a degree of eloquence, it is absolutely no reflection or indicator of my ‘real life’ capability. I’m bloody incompetent; I solve basic problems in inefficient ways, I balk when my wife says “why didn’t you just solve a problem in [insert more sensical, evolved method] way” and I have constantly and regularly been terminated from jobs for under-performing in a variety of fields, from fast food to manual labor to computer repair to courier work to disabled services aid. I miss basic points of logic and reason consistently, my friends tire of breaking down complex concepts for me time and again during conversation, and I simply cannot engage a true political or economic discussion without being outclassed, left behind, positively obliviated by the intellect which even common unimpressive folk have, which I can find no trace within myself.

      I’m just flatly incompetent and cannot STAND the onslaught of positive thinking and self-affirmation I find whenever I speak to counselors, search the Internet, or otherwise seek to improve my situation. No amount of self-love makes me any smarter; if anything, self-love and confidence prove to be a crippling liability when the inevitable Major Failure rolls around and I am forced to remember that on a long enough timeline my approval rating always, always, always drops to zero.

    • I completely agree. I studied in an art academy. I loved designing, animating and special effects, but I wasn’t smart enough to comprehend the deeper meanings of art. I’m currently studying IT and entered 4th semester where programming got introduced and I cry when I try to understand the codes. I literally found myself googling “how to not be stupid” as I have major trouble finding a job. All jobs available require high communication skills or math (accounting, salesman) and I just know I would not understand materials in schools that lead those two topics in their program. I study as hard as I can but I still can’t understand some basic things. Heck, I can’t even do simple mental math and I feel like this makes me mentally handicapped in our society.

      • Really, I don’t think someone is stupid just because they cannot do simple mental math. Everyone has their own strength and weaknesses. I’m not great in mathematics either, and I have great difficulties doing calculations in my head. But nonetheless, with a lot of effort, willpower and a lot of studying I still was able to get good grades in the subject. Even if that meant I had to do twice the work other people had to do.

        And because I know that I’m not good at math, I’m looking for jobs that do not require math skills.

  4. Jai and Bastion hit the nail on the head.

    All my life I’ve bought into this self-affirming, feel good nonsense in an attempt to push past my idiocy and incompetence. As a result, I’m now in way over my head. I put tremendous effort into going to and graduating from University and Teachers College. I did so, but now that I have a teaching gig, I find I’m wayyyy in over my head. I’m not smart enough to teach children over the age of like 8. I can tell that these small children, are smarter than me in so many ways. I graduated because I paid the tuition and did the work, not because I have any actual teaching skill. Now that I’m actually hired as a substitute teacher I’m falling very flat and not improving or learning, even when the classes are calm and well mannered.

    I don’t know my times tables. I don’t know who key historical figures are. I can’t quickly and readily identify certain verbs, pronouns, etc. When I read out loud, I often make mistakes and mispronounce words. It’s awful, and even the children can tell I’m not bright. I’ve even had a kid say (after I made a mistake), “I’m smarter than the teacher!”. It was true.

    So now I’m stressed beyond belief. I’m 27 and I’ve spent thousands on a career that is too difficult for me to succeed in… and that career is teaching. “If you can’t do, teach” they say… Well I can’t do, and I’m attempting to teach. And I can’t even do that.

    And yes, I communicate with a certain degree of eloquence when I’m writing, but my verbal communication skills are absolutely laughable. I misspeak all the fucking time, and little of what I say is intelligible. I can communicate when writing only because I can take lots of time to consider and write my thoughts. This whole thing has taken me like, 25 minutes to type.

    Many smart people are just lazy, and I have many friends like this who with effort and drive would amount to amazing things. Then there are actual idiots who try hard, and come up short and then feel pissed off because despite being told “You can do anything!” their entire life, realize that they in fact cannot.

  5. To the above frustrated individuals.

    People learn differently. Some people struggle with academics because it is very theoretical. Perhaps try something more practical where you learn through experience. I am currently doing a PhD, and, quite frankly, I am terrible at it. What I am good at however, is practical things, like plumbing, carpentry and the likes. I veered away from it as I don’t enjoy it, and does not carry as high status as what I thought I should do. I want a sense of mastery and achievement, so once I finish my PhD, I am going to completely change my direction.

  6. Hey… I am in a condition where I think I am not good in anything. My grades are very low, exactly on the minimum score it can pass. I tried to joind a community but it turns out I fail at any job I had. Which makes me had no friends at all. I never get close to people, they always walk away from me. I am confused and do not know what to do. Like everyday I make new mistakes. My face is very average.

    Bad score, rejecting by society, I feel like I am invicible. When I am gone, I doubt someone will even notice me. My question is, how come such a human exist? Should I just jump off a biulding?

    • No you shouldn’t. You I just finding yourself within a wishes circle of negative affirmations. You constantly tell yourself that you are not good at everything you do, and as a consequence you see evidence of this everywhere you go. Just because you failed at the jobs you did doesn’t mean you’re a failure in life. That so many people who are not performing well in the workplace, especially because they are so interesting people. These people might take care of others and have a humble heart, but these are not the things that are applauded at in the workplace.

  7. People always say im stupid. I ask stupid questions to people all the time. I know im not stupid though. But when everyone calls me stupid I beleive it. What makes me come off as stupid to other people? Is it how I say things? Im just so confused because I hate it.

    • Really, there are no stupid questions. There are only stupid answers.

      Often times, it’s also a psychological effect. These people might be envious which is why they say nasty thinks about you.

      Don’t let these people make yourself think bad about you.

  8. Your parents are the ones who knows best. My dad immediately figured that I was stupid and my mum kept telling me that I am not. I know myself.I have no one around me. Women leave me once they realise that I am a fake and that I am stupid. I make stupid decisions every second of everyday. I am known for being stupid.No one in this world can convince me otherwise.

  9. I find it hard to see my intelligence.As a child I was extreamely hypersensitive and while I probably had good experiences in school my memories are sad ones.It was figured out that I had dyspraxia when I was a kid which meant for me that reading was extreamely hard.I remember hiding in the playground because I thought people would laugh at me if they found out i was still on tbe same page i was 3 days ago.I had a teacher who told me i was stupid when i didn’t understand something,a teacher who told me my mum wouldn’t like what i made ,a teacher who said ” why would you even think of that” when I thought of a hypothisis for a sociology project ( and looked at me as if I had three heads).I think its a complicated issue for me.I have no qualifications as I had to drop out at 14 due to a long term illness.Interestingly, I am going through diagnosisis of adhd autism and a personality disorder.Is it really any surprise that someine with that, plus ocd would find it hard to focus :/.I have panic attacks in learning environments and I seem to automatically go into situations thinking I can’t do it.Its really difficult for me to not think I am inferior to everybody else.It doesn’t matter that I have studied Russian for 5 years ,Finnish for 4, enjoy attempting to write fairy tales in Russian,am about to start learning Estonian,have been writing my own language for 5 years,used to write a lot of piano music I was told by my teacher was 4 grades higher than my playing ability..Dispite everything I will always be stupud and unable .:/.

    .I think this is a many layered problem ( about why and how i came to feel this way). One is that my fathet is a software engineer and used to get whipped if he did not score the highest in school.He also skipped a few years.So I feel kinda ashamed knowing that I was alwats on the bottom table.

    Which brings me to this.So in the Uk well when I was at school anyway ,they tier the classes .On the low band of students, the highest they can get is a C.I beleive that the readon these classes tend to be more loud is because the students KNOW that their adults beleive they can only succeed up to a certain level, while they know that these same adults see their peers as able to score an a star.The student even from a young age ,can TELL you think he or she is stupid,so why would they feel encouraged to try :/. Well thats just my take on the issue.

    It is becoming clear that many people in their early 20s like myself are only NOW being diagnosed with the adhd they have had all their lives.I think those children that show clear clear signs of things sometimes mean that those children who have lesser symptoms but still symptoms none tbe LESS ,fall through the cracks.The problem with Adhd is that I can’t concentrate for very long and the only things I can concentrate on are doll making,linguistics and trapeze. Eg, I may only be able to read 4 pages untill i get distracted but will focus on a doll for five hours and not realise i am hungry.

    I remember being on the phone to my friend whilst cutting my arm because i thought i was stupid and in a way I am kind of glad I have them for they remind me I can never succeed and that I must always be put in my place of inferiority.

    While I do beleive knowlege is power, I also have things which I have more of a desire to focus on.Eg , not having a clue who anyone in power is in the uk but knowing about linguistic ambiguity.I consider mechanics tremendously smart people ,but somehow doing a trade is seen as something that is the easy option.!?
    So i just mean i know my stuff but I don’t know as much general knowlege, I don’t even know when the war ended.and honestly I don’t care.

    I like knowing things I am interested in and that happens to not be general knowlege.which is why i probably really struggle to remember them 🙂

    • I think it’s better to assume that one knows nothing. Many of the brightest minds report that the more they learned about this world the more they realized how little they know. This is what makes you really humble and this is what really shrinks your ego.

      Telling yourself that you’re stupid does only limit you. At the same time, one does not necessarily have to tell oneself that one is super bright and supersmart when this is not the case. There’s a fine difference between accepting one’s intellectual limitations and thinking one is massively stupid. All that matters is to get that self-limiting thinking out of one’s system.

      But based on all the comments on this article I feel that many people don’t want to change that.

  10. Just because someone is intelligent it doesn’t make them a good person, wouldn’t everyone rather be a good person ? That’s what would really make the world a better place….. Starting with you Ivan.

  11. To be honest, I think we should all just do what we can and try our best. Everyone’s going to end up in the same place one day (in the grave). So just try to be happy with what you have, try your best to achieve your potential, and just live till the day comes. This depression and desperation is totally unnecessary.

  12. I was just starting to feel better about myself after reading this….and then I read the comments. I’ve struggled my whole life with feeling mentally inadequate (easy to do when you have a brother who’s literally a rocket science). I go through phases when I feel really dumb and inconsequential. The past few days have been rough: I accidentally disconnected the TV and can’t figure where the wires go to get it working again, I was tasked with going to the grocery store to get coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker and couldn’t figure out how to work the grinding machine. And on and on. I HATE the feeling of being an incompetent dolt in everyday life. But you know what? Most people are constantly making “stupid” mistakes. In my line of work, I see it all the time. And from people who otherwise would be considered very intelligent. And I mean glaring mistakes. We’ve all seen the driver going the wrong way on a one way street, or an accident caused by complete idiocy. I think for most of suffering from this, our ego plays a big role. We don’t want to be seen as dumb so we are not willing to learn (and fail) in a public setting. (I just left the coffee beans in the grinder rather than risk being perceived as an idiot). However, our egos have taken a beating because of internal, and occasional verbal abuse. So now, we are frozen and mired in feelings of misery brought on by real and imagined inadequacy. It can be a pretty vicious feedback loop. The one thing that I find that is helpful is to become an expert in something. You may never understand Calculus, but you can be an expert gardener, or janitor or Uber driver. The other things that work are gratitude for what you have and giving back to others. Spend some time working at a homeless shelter or volunteering with the developmentally disabled. That will put your problems in perspective and take the focus off of you. Having said that, I’m not saying it’s easy to get out of this self destructive rut – I’m in one now.

    • I was feeling depressed about something that happened at school earlier today and for a moment I thought I was the worst person in the world with no intelligence whatsoever and that no matter how hard I try I can never be good at certain things. However reading your comment has opened my eyes to a truth I’ve been ignoring for while (the ego thing). Thank you so much and I hope you will be able to get out of your self-destructive rut as well. You’re awesome.

  13. Hi, I’m an 18 years old girl and are going into collage early November this year.I’m left behind by a year compare to majority of my batch.(not going to say friends cause I don’t think I have any)
    I’ve graduated high school n stay at home for a year when all the others have already started to further their studies,some are going to be done with diploma next year even.

    The thing is that I’m really bad at maths,I’ve known this fact for years.But during my final test I did seriously bad and horrible in all the subjects,including my favorite which is English.I do believe myself as smart when I was young but as years goes by I start losing my confidence and self esteem.

    Before I was usually keen about ‘studying’,in which at that tie I call as ‘knowing’ how things work.I was always trying to figure out stuff like “how did the rains happen?”, “where did the wind come from?”,”why can the lizard climb up the walls?” etc… I would spend all days thinking.And I love the fact that sometimes I figure out the question on my own either by combining my already know facts or researching it on books or news (I don’t have any excess to internet at that time,cause I was too ‘young’ according to my asian parent)

    Now days, I just feel so stupid and dumb.I lost all my self esteem,I’m too scared to even start studying cause I don’t want to fail.Every time I do a mistake ,in counting especially I felt so bad like there’s a hole in my heart.I don’t want to figure out a simple question and don’t even try to think about it at all.

    I got offered for TESL and Dip in food tech, my mom preferred me to enrolls in a government school which is why I’m taking the Dip in food tech this November.I was actually interested in taking TESL but part of me knows,that it’s also because I’m afraid of learning math and science.But I also understand that the fees for TESL can be a burden for my parents economy with my siblings.

    I’m scared that there’s only a month left before I’m going to enroll.I want to start doing revision of my basic maths and science subjects,so that I can be ready.But I’m so afraid of failure after my previous final test.I’m not sure what to do,I can’t stop doubting myself and feeling stupid everytime I tried learning something. help me please?

    • Use your fear of failure and funnel it into your efforts for preparation. Never allow fear to paralyze you but instead use it to move you forward. Also, always remember that if you don’t do any preparation, you will likely fail. For this reason, give everything you have and try to be as much prepared as possible.

  14. I noticed a lot of people, not only myself, have this idea of being stupid. As society is today its either your smart or completely mental. For myself, I have always been below average “smartness” compared to everyone else. My little brother is ten times smarter than me, how can I not think I’m stupid. Everyone around me can grasp situations faster than me. What doesn’t help is that when you feel that you can do something and you end up completely messing it up/ getting it all wrong. I always call myself stupid but my mom always says, ” You just think differently than others”. I start to think that “Hey, I’m different maybe that is good , but what am I good at?” I get stuck every time wondering if I’m actually good at anything. Now since I’ll be going into college this August cost are a thing, but scholarships are only for people with a 3.0 and higher, which I never have.
    So basically what I am saying is how can we stop thinking that we’re stupid if society and just today in general, makes us look dumb and unintelligent? Everyone always says to stop speaking that way but why? It’s like one minute they say your smart in your “own” way…(basically still calling you stupid but in a nice way) and they they re calling you stupid. Look up intelligent on the thesaurus and look at the antonyms: dark dull ignorant normal old stupid typical unaware uncreative uneducated unimaginative unintelligent uninventive unreasonable unresourceful worn foolish idiotic imbecile….

    Thus, this is just my thoughts and opinions, but I would like to know what your thoughts on this is.

  15. No, if you think you are dumb you are dumb. End of story. Don’t try to make me feel better by sounding smart in your text.

  16. I don’t know where I stand after I’ve read this article. I graduated from University with a Distinction on Accountancy. I did not enjoy it, but was able to understand everything that was taught and even excelled in most exams. I’m employed by a reputable audit firm and I feel like they expect more from me than what I am capable of giving. Most times, I feel like I couldn’t do anything when it comes to my job. Of course, I’m still a junior, but I find myself doubting my ability to finish every task. This surely makes me feel stupid/dumb. Perhaps, it’s just my insecurities. But how does it explain why I can’t perform my job?

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