I have moments where I’m completely swallowed in a feeling of inadequacy. It’s like a continued feeling of sinking deeper and deeper into quicksand- I try to maneuver my way out of it, but sometimes I just have to surrender to it. I 100% know that this feeling is shared by many of us. It’s not just me who finds herself locked into the uncomfortable, confusing feeling.
The Buddha teaches that all suffering is a direct relation to this feeling of separateness. Identifying as the separate self makes us feel disconnected, alone, and like something is missing within us. This identification as a separate self can also cause us to become victim to the comparison game. Comparing our lives to an image we see of others, seeing their lives as so different and disconnected from our own. I’ve been trying to witness the moments in which I feel inadequate, in which the “incompleteness” wound becomes re-opened. To just witness them and not fall into the stories that come with this wound is one of the greatest challenges of them all.
Here’s the thing: I find that so many of us feel inadequate because we’ve been conditioned to think we need to be fixed- we’ve been conditioned to believe that holding onto this feeling of incompleteness and developing such a strong feeling of self-hatred for ourselves will make us tougher and take us further in the long run.
I was asking myself this week- where is this feeling of inadequacy arising from? What triggers it? For me it’s always getting caught in the tight grip of individualism, and seeing myself as disconnected from others… seeing myself as incapable of measuring up to others and questioning over and over again my worthiness. When I measure myself up to others, I’m forgetting how connected we all are by this thread of humanity, by the thread of our human hearts. The measuring up to others- it’s something we’ve been conditioned to do, a behavior rooted in individualism. I have found that this feeling arises when I hold onto the old story that loving myself does not make sense as I am so flawed & imperfect. There is a part of me that holds onto the story that I am incomplete and inadequate because it makes me tougher, have you noticed that our western culture drills into every crevice of our brain that you have to keep hating yourself until you are worthy of love? When I get caught in this train of thought, love and acceptance slip through my fingertips.
Pema Chodron says that the truth we believe and cling to makes it impossible to hear and be open to anything new. How can we be open to the feeling of wholeness and completeness within ourselves if we keep clinging onto inadequacy and incompleteness? To surrender to this story so many of us have been telling us seems easy on paper but applying it to our everyday lives is tough.
Tara Brach’s “RAIN” approach to these uncomfortable feelings is so helpful.
R: Recognize what’s going on
A: Allow the experience to be there
I: Investigate with kindness
N: Natural awareness that comes from not identifying with the experience
-> Recognize the feeling of inadequacy. Allow the feeling to simply be there. Investigate this feeling. Gain awareness of it without grasping onto the feeling/ situation.
My Wednesday night prayer is this:
May all humans awaken from the false idea that we are incomplete, inadequate, unworthy. May we all release our firm grip to these feelings. May we awaken to the idea that we are truly all connected in this experience on earth, that we are never alone in any of these feelings. May we find solace and comfort in the idea of connectedness and togetherness. May we look at ourselves through a lens of compassion. May we not get lost in the swarm of thoughts that can arise in our minds, may we learn to let them go and let ourselves be.