Smart Enough: Overcoming an Intelligence Insecurity and the Fear of Looking Stupid

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Note: This is about intelligence insecurity, but in the context of this book, the word “intelligence” can be interchanged with “competent” or “smart” and still address the same underlying issue(s). If you fear being incompetent, stupid, unintelligent, or would say you are insecure about your competence, I think you'll also benefit from this book.

Why you should read this book

Some of us are constantly reassured that we’re intelligent or told to give up worrying about it. Despite these suggestions, we may still struggle with this insecurity. Reading this book will give you the perspectives and insights required to free yourself of the pressure and need to prove your intelligence. You’ll stop worrying about your level of intelligence and stop doubting if you’re intelligent. Instead, you’ll be able to finally embrace a growth mindset and be more objective by selecting and focusing on intrinsically motivating goals. You'll also understand why you have the insecurity which will increase your self-awareness and allow you to help yourself and others with the same or similar issues.

Book contents

  • The solution: psychological and philosophical insights to break free from the insecurity
  • A case study of a client of mine so you can see a real-life demonstration of someone overcoming intelligence insecurity. 
  • Bonus: Additional insights on handling workplace confidence, imposter syndrome, and discrimination/stereotyping/prejudice for those who have jobs.

This is an exact excerpt of how the client described their intelligence insecurity to me. The full description which is the case study is in the book:

Intelligence insecurity (imposter syndrome)

I have a strong academic track record and have had a respectable professional career since college but still get plagued with self-doubt at work and battled extreme perfectionism that led to me almost quitting due to burnout early this year. Instead of focusing on the objective at hand, I default to trying to prove competence and signal confidence. When I see other extremely competent/confident people, I often feel insecure and less than despite having similar or better record. Symptoms of this manifest whenever i have to public speak at work—i am in a leadership role and have to speak a lot in team, customer, and company meetings. I’m also sensitive to work conflict and criticism. When i see it happening between others at work i’m like woah and brace myself when i think it may come my way. I feel like the freeze response takes over. Part of the problem is perfectionism and seeing criticism as threat to my competency and self-concept. I logically know I should have a growth mindset and embrace criticism…

About the author

Harrison holds a bachelor's in computer science from Georgia Tech and has been fascinated with psychology since he can remember. A former software engineer who's been studying anxiety, high performance, and mastery for the past 8 years, Harrison uses reason and logic to help people eliminate and understand the root causes of their anxiety triggers.

He shares free anxiety insights at harrisonobiorah.com.

Why I wrote this book 

I battled an intelligence insecurity in the workplace. After graduating college, I worked as a software engineer and pivoted into product management to improve my leadership skills and address insecurities I thought being a software engineer wouldn’t address.  


I worked with multiple therapists to address the insecurities but I didn’t get to the root cause and overcome it with them. I continued searching for answers and stumbled upon a perspective from a now-deceased psychotherapist named Bruce Di Marsico that provided the philosophical understanding I needed to eliminate my intelligence insecurity. Bruce Di Marsico found that people experience negative emotions because they often have unconscious reasons why they think should feel bad. Bruce created a system of questions he called the Option Method (which is supported by cognitive behavioral therapy and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) to help people uncover these reasons. I had the chance to read multiple transcripts of counseling sessions of practitioners using Bruce’s teaching to help clients find the reasons why they felt negative emotions. I saw how the counselors “dug up” beliefs that were producing the negative emotions the clients wanted to eliminate which proved to me that beliefs–often unconscious ones–did cause our negative emotions. After this realization, I got my hands on as many books and recordings produced by Brue and those who learned from him to identify and eliminate the beliefs that were causing my social and work anxiety. I then worked with two mentees of Bruce who teach and mentor people who want to understand and eliminate their undesirable emotions. The understanding I gained from studying Bruce’s perspective enabled me to find the root cause(s) of my intelligence insecurity and eliminate it.

About the author

Harrison holds a bachelor's in computer science from Georgia Tech and has been fascinated with psychology since his teen years. A former software engineer who's been studying anxiety, high performance, and mastery for the past 8 years, Harrison uses reason and logic to help people understand and eliminate their anxiety triggers.

He shares free anxiety insights at harrisonobiorah.com.

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Smart Enough: Overcoming an Intelligence Insecurity and the Fear of Looking Stupid

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