This episode delves into the significance of embracing and understanding feelings of inadequacy. A fundamental aspect of being human is that virtually all of us experience moments of inadequacy, whether we recognize them or not. You will be encouraged to identify and explore your feelings of inadequacy and learn how to connect them with your underlying needs. By asking yourself what thoughts, actions, and qualities are necessary to address feelings of inadequacy, you can tap into your inner wisdom and resilience, ultimately allowing you to access what is needed.
Allowing such feelings to exist, even for a while, helps cultivate dignity, humility, and the ability to see our commonality. Connecting challenging emotions with your core needs bridges psychology and spiritual or religious values. Therefore, with compassion and heartfelt wisdom, encourage yourself to be completely transparent and increasingly tolerant when feelings of inadequacy arise.
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Awareness That Heals, Episode 107.
The Awareness That Heals podcast helps its listeners learn to develop the capacity to have a more healing response to emotions and situations rather than becoming stuck. Your host, Robert Strock, has practiced psychotherapy for more than 45 years. He wrote the book Awareness That Heals, bringing heart and wisdom to life’s challenges to help develop self-caring and the capacity to respond in an effective way to life’s challenges. Especially at times when we are most prone to be critical or to withdraw together, we will explore how to become aware of our challenging feelings and at the same time find alternative ways to live a more fulfilling and inspiring life.
Robert Strock (00:47):
A very warm welcome to Awareness That Heals, where we are really trying to support ourselves and you to bring heart and wisdom to our life’s challenges. And it’s easy to understand that concept, but it’s so important that we recognize we’re embracing what is most difficult and dignifying the challenging emotion itself. We’re dignifying it to breathe to be allowed, but at the same time recognizing that it’s the starting point of being a pointer in a direction toward what we need. But we can’t bypass our challenges and just go to our needs because our feelings that are challenging are really the core code that guides us to exactly what we need if we trace it. And we also can’t just fixate ourselves on the challenging emotions because then we’ll be stuck. And when we fixate, we’re stuck in the muck when we actually allow it gracefully or semi-gracefully just to be there for a period of time. It creates dignity, humility, and humanity.
And today we’re going to be focusing on something that in my experience is the foundation of both mental and spiritual health. And that is we are focusing on the challenging feelings leading us to all the essential values and qualities that all the great religions have talked about. And in a sense, we could call it a blend of spirituality and psychology because psychology supports us to feel our challenging emotions but is not long on creating values that are the universal values. And spirituality does guide us to universal values, at least in theory, maybe not always in practice, but it’s kind of short on really recognizing the importance and the dignity in being authentically human.
So this blending of allowing and supporting and encouraging our humanness to be as it is and to be given space-time perspective is so crucial that we don’t do what is frequently called spiritual bypassing, that we really allow the feelings to be as they are with awareness and with a minimal amount or preferably no judgment, just this challenging feeling is here as it is, whether it’s fear, anxiety, anger, depression, I see it. And then we remember, oh, I have this other side of me that has these core essential values that I want my life to be as much as possible. And so we’re making this link between our challenging feelings and our essential needs, and it’s an embrace of both psychology and spiritual or religious values. It kind of blows my mind that this is not really taught as a foundation for both mental and spiritual health.
The only other person I know of who taught this tremendously beautifully is Marshall Rosenberg, who died a while ago and was an international mediator. But to the best of my knowledge, this linkage between feelings and needs is not a part of any well-known psychotherapist or spiritual teacher. And I’m not saying that to brag. That’s not my point. My point is to have you recognize that we’re entering terrain that isn’t likely to be familiar to you. And for that reason, I’ve made two charts into what I call the Introspective Guides that hopefully you have in front of you now that lists the 75 most challenging emotions. Not that it’s the only list, but it’s a list and 75 essential needs that are those values that I’m talking about that are in religion or spirituality and supporting making that linkage. So they’re both dignified, putting these together as close to the same time as possible, challenging feeling and wanting to, and preferably actually being able to live in our most essential needs is a meaningful life.
And it’s universal because every one of us has challenging feelings and every one of us have some values, even though of course we can find examples of extremes. But staying with the dominant center, it’s universal that we need to embrace and face our challenging emotions and let them be used as aids to find our essential needs that will fulfill, inspire not only ourselves, but we’ll help our ailing world. This very thing of not being able to get to our needs, we can track this through history, that fear and anger itself has created wars when it’s not able to be experienced and then go to the needs, but instead is acted out. I remember all too well our fear of communism and invading Vietnam and how many wars are based on exaggerated anger and projected anger. And because anger was not able to be resolved. And we’re seeing it today with what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine and not being able to make the link that this anger is being acted out and not faced by Putin.
And this has been a large part of the story of humanity, of not being able to put together, ahh I face my emotions, I let them be there. And what are the universal needs that take care of everyone that don’t harm anyone? And I use this to highlight how important it is on the world stage and how equally important it is on the intimate stage of your relationships and my relationships and everyone I know, their relationships. Today we’re going to be focusing on feelings of inadequacy, something that unquestionably is there at the deepest level for all of us, but is so frequently suppressed because it falls very high on the list of horribles or unacceptables. But my experience is when you have the courage, when I have the courage, when others have the courage to admit, I feel inadequate. It allows courage and dignity and confidence to be developed in that area.
We feel inadequate if we suppress the inadequacy, we’re frozen there. And so the importance of being able and even wanting to expose our inadequacy where it’s safe ground. I’m not suggesting we announce it in the public arena, but where we have a trusted friend or a trusted relationship that says, “I feel inadequate in this area, and I really want to move to develop my confidence, my competence. I want to get perspective on this. I need to find the direction that will support me.” Now in some cases, like for me with technology, I’m inadequate and I say it without judgment. I’m not very good at it. Some areas, it’s just no big deal if we don’t run away from it. All of us are inadequate in some areas of our life, but it’s like a boogeyman or it’s like cooties. We can’t have feelings of inadequacy and bring dignity to it.
And what we’re talking about today is exactly that we can. And it’s not I “am” inadequate, it’s I “feel” inadequate. And maybe in some way it just would be more accurate to say I’m not developed in that area. And most importantly, it can be used as an inspiration to grow in that area if it’s an area that we have the capacity to grow. So we either need to grow or we need to accept those are what our needs could be one way or the other. And to be able to discern which direction we need to go, we need to look, and I’m asking you right now to look at where you felt inadequate in your life and to ask yourself, how could I have best handle that? And as it arises again, how can I best handle it? Am I with someone who’s mature enough where I can afford to say it out loud?
Can I use it and say it without heinous judgment and just say, I want to be honest and say, I feel inadequate here, and I’d like to be able to develop, can you help me? Or where can I find help? Or where can I have the dignity of acceptance that I’m just undeveloped? And the inadequacy is actually a judgment for just not being developed. So today, you’re going to get a chance to put yourself in the center of the feeling of inadequacy and not let it mean to you that you are inadequate. Just that this is the area where I’m least developed. And then the big “and,” how do I best take care of myself, which is utterly unique. Every person in every area of inadequacy is completely different.
In my experience as a counselor, many of the greatest breakthroughs has been when a person in a couple says, I feel inadequate sexually or I feel inadequate in communication. And then the next question is always, can you give me more detail? Can you go into it more? Can you have the courage to acknowledge it? Then someone might say, well, I can’t have an orgasm, or I can’t, when I feel insecure talk about it or when I’m competitive, I can’t get out of it. And then the questions come, well, how can you best support yourself either to have an orgasm and really open yourself up or to find the other ways to love while you’re not orgasmic? Or how can you communicate what it is that you haven’t been able to communicate? How can you access the humility and the courage to be able to bring that out in the open?
So let yourself scan, and this is a very, very subtle emotion for most people or state. It’s kept usually under the covers. So you might have to look a lot more closely to be able to find where this is the case. There are so many ways to be inadequate. We can not be successful enough, we cannot be handsome enough, not young enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, and the list goes on forever. So it’s inevitable that all of us, a part of being human is having feelings of inadequacy. What we’re talking about today is not making it an identity and adding the inquiry of how can I discover what my needs are to support me while I feel inadequate?
So as you prepare for the meditation, see if you can glimpse moments where this is a fleeting feeling or thought and you want to get out of there as fast as possible, but you see that there’s another alternative because it’s one of the areas where the greatest breakthroughs happen. Having the courage to face inadequacy and not have it be inert or a fixed quality is one of the most courageous acts in humanity. And so we’re going to give you this chance to not only now glimpse these situations, but to stay in the feeling of inadequacy and be resourceful enough to be tolerating it. And then inquiring, how do I move toward my needs to either lessen my feelings of inadequacy or to really commit yourself because it’s important and you have capacity and identifying the needs that are going to allow you to most develop the confidence and sense of adequacy.
It’s really a mindblower. When you realize that your feelings really are a pregnancy of finding, discovering, and living your essential needs and being able to be your best self. Then what happens when you really realize that is you’re as interested in discovering your feelings and living with them with acceptance as you are and living your most fulfilling needs. Because the question is, would you rather be pregnant or would you rather be alive? And to me, and I think to you, if you really think about it, they’re both absolutely the peaks of life, one feels better, but it allows a birth to happen. The other one is, you’re already birthed. Do you want to be part of the creative process to move into life? Or do you just want to be the best of life? So as we start the meditation, I encourage you to warm yourself up. Being open to both acceptance of being undeveloped or the courage and inspiration to go for development. And prematurely judging yourself is not the way we want to go. We want to have the grace to acknowledge these feelings to ourselves for sure, without horrible arrows pointing at ourselves, beating ourselves up. And we want to see which direction our needs would naturally take us.
Guided meditation is for so many people, the best way to truly gain benefit in your response to personal challenges. As you invest in bring your own experience to the guided meditations, you’ll give yourself the best chance to change longstanding patterns from suffering toward a state of well-being, peace, and healing. It’s important to put yourself in a comfortable body position in a private space where you’re not disturbed. Turn off your phone and be ready to really be alert. So as you begin this meditation, just let your attention hover around your heart. And if it feels natural, put one or both hands on your heart. And if nothing else, just feel it as it is and just whisper the words I care about you, even if you haven’t been able to come into this world as much as I wish you could. And as you whisper these words, see if you can sense a response. Is your heart happy with you, unhappy with you? And don’t try to change it. Just be interested in what it shares with you. Listen to your heart. Let your hands be a vehicle of conveying from your wisdom heart to your heart that you wish it well,
That you know the reason you’re alive includes your wish to bring as much heart as possible to your life. And this hovering around your heart is something that you can and you get to do, whenever you have a free moment. It doesn’t take long. Lie down in bed, you can sit in a chair. So appreciate that you have this capacity to hover around your heart. And as you’re ready, let yourself have the glimpses of where you have felt inadequate and where you might even anticipate that it’s going to continue in your life. And see if you can soften the edges of the inadequacy feelings so that they don’t become exaggerated, really critical. And let yourself see if you can experience it a little bit more as undeveloped, because inadequacy itself, as has been stated, is a little judgmental. Inadequacy, I am with you, I see you, it’s okay because we’re all human. And so it’s natural that you have this feeling. I embrace you, I tolerate you, I accept you. And look and find the part of you that wants to nurture, that wants to be protective, that wants to help the inadequacy feeling evolve.
I’m not going to abandon you. My presence can last longer than your feeling. I’m with you forever and I’m going to be endlessly asking you, how can I support you? How can I be with you in a way that’s going to allow you to be your best self? I don’t have an agenda. I don’t have immediate answers. This one’s going to require going deeply into the feeling because it’s so unique, which way you’re going to come out to support yourself. Acceptance and developing are almost opposite ends of the spectrum, but they’re both healing depending on the situation you find yourself. See if this makes sense to you. There’s nothing at all inadequate about being undeveloped, especially if you face it honestly and you look at it realistically because it’s universal. We’re all undeveloped. So see if you can imagine those situations, probably especially in intimate relationships, where you could tie in an expression of, in this area, I feel undeveloped, I feel inadequate, and I’d like your help, help me accept or tolerate that in this area, I’m never going to be good at math. I’m never going to be able to read well, I’m never going to be an athlete. I’m never going to be able to change my nose or my skin
or whatever it is. I want to accept myself. I want to have the courage to be able to go for developing in this way, in this next step where I’m not leaving it vague with just general labels. It might be I’m undeveloped in the area of communication and I want to go see a therapist. I want to talk to a friend that’s a great communicator. I have a capacity that I haven’t developed, or I want to be taller and I can’t be, or I want to have hair and I can’t have hair, and I want the acceptance. So this discovery of your essential needs when the inadequacy is there, is one of the biggest transformational potentials because when we’re feeling inadequate, it has a tendency to want to make it an identity. And because it’s so often hidden, the subconscious makes it grow because we aren’t having conversations with it, the shame and embarrassment so often with it. So appreciate your exploration right now of feelings of inadequacy and see if you’re ready to say inadequacy feelings. I see you, and I’m on your side to give you space to breathe and to listen to you as to how you can be supported.
Recognize how universal you are, even though you very likely privately feel you are uniquely undeveloped. And see the big breakthrough, maybe even experience the big breakthrough of I now can embrace it, and I can have the question of what direction, what thoughts, what actions, what qualities do I need to bring to these feelings of inadequacy to help me find my heart, find my wisdom, and embrace the feelings of inadequacy. And may you and may we all embrace our feelings of inadequacy and realize that this is the peak of courage, humility, honesty, and integrity. And may this be more and more a part of your world, in our world.
So just let yourself be honest with whether that is something that you can take in, that your inadequacy feelings can actually be a source of courage, humility, trust in yourself, and that it could be a bridge to other people that are mature, or whether you feel so afraid, so sure that it will be used against you or you’ll be humiliated that you don’t feel that you can move forward outwardly or maybe even inwardly. And then ask yourself the question if this is true, do you have a glimpse? Do you have at least a glimpse of, I may be able to tolerate this. I may even be able to selectively share this with one person. And no matter what, can you see how hard this is for everyone universally and that you’re in great company, but you have a chance to break out of that company? And so if this is an area that’s hard for you to move forward with, recognize how utterly normal it is.
And hopefully, you have a glimpse that if you can find unusual courage to be able to experience this more inside you, which is the first step, just admitting it inside without adding and piling on shame that you’re on a path to be able to gain the energy that you’ve been stuffing down. And instead, you’re giving yourself room to breathe and recognizing that if you hover around your heart, that it’s very likely that your heart will accept not only your feelings of inadequacy or being undeveloped, but everything. So wishing for this compassion, this heartfelt wisdom to encourage you to be utterly transparent and more and more tolerant of yourself when feelings of inadequacy arise. And recognizing that this is one of the pinnacle points of human evolution. And if you can even glimpse it, that you’re ahead of the pack. And the prayer is that we may all move more and more to see this paradox and this helping us move toward a more sane and adequate world.
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