A lot of social anxiety and relational issues are strongly linked to our inability to be authentic within ourselves and with others. Authenticity is rarer than you’d think. If you look at most of the messages we receive from early childhood on wards – from media, parents, and friends- it becomes clearer why this is. As developing souls, we are bombarded with one powerful and compelling message,
“You are not enough as you are.”
Feeling that you are not enough is a foundational wound in everyone I have mentored or known deeply, myself included. I’m not smart enough, handsome enough, strong enough, hard working enough, loved enough, rich enough. In short, I need to become more than I am, to be OK.
That is a terrible start for all of us and has been an “original sin” passed from generation to generation for hundreds of generations. I wouldn’t be surprised if this basic feeling of inadequacy was the cause of most of societies troubles today. How can you build a good foundation on such a wound?
Much of human industry and achievement has been driven by this need to prove that we are OK. We tell our selves this mantra, “If I just achieve this goal, this relationship, this financial figure, I will then be enough. Life like this can be a living hell, a true rat race, chasing an acceptance we will never gain. If you truly understood that you would never actually feel like you are enough, no matter how much you achieved, would you still play the game?
“If I just achieve this goal, this relationship, this financial figure, I will then be enough. Life like this can be a living hell, a true rat race, chasing an acceptance we will never gain.
I wonder if the mid-life crisis is a realisation of this truth. When we hit our 40’s many of us have started to realise the game isn’t paying off. Maybe we have played by all the rules for decades and still don’t feel like we are enough. Often some major failure tips us over the edge and we feel that creeping despair, “will I ever be enough!!” I’ll tell you the bad news before I tell you the good news.
No, you will never be enough, if you think you can earn it.
I want to make that very clear to you, there is no way you will ever be able to feel OK deep in your soul through, achievements, possessions or people and I’ll explain why. Let’s say you do achieve some level of success in these areas. For a while you’ll feel pretty good about yourself, there is a certain self-inflated sense that we are OK in those moments, unfortunately these are based on a very insecure foundation. In that moment of success, I have become more, by comparison to another. That wonderful feeling that I’m OK, is coming solely from a comparison to some one else that I feel I am superior to in that moment.
Gaining the prize of self-acceptance through comparison is a fool’s game, because deep down you know there will always be someone better. The good feeling doesn’t last because it is built on thin air, your own self inflated importance in being a little better that someone else. That will never satisfy!
This is where the concept of the true self and false self can be very helpful. The false self could be described as an identity build apart from who we really are. As children we develop an identity by what we like and don’t like, I like dog’s but not cats, I like cities and not the country, I like Christians and not Muslims, I like Australians but not Asians, and so on. We start to develop an identity based on arbitrary, cultural and parental norms. This is not who we are, this is the mask we are creating. We call this identity. This is a dualistic mind at work, this or that, up or down, right or wrong.
This is the false self, we know it’s false because we see that it’s foundations are built on nothing but made up, random choices strongly influenced by culture and family. A little travel will start to show you how delicate your false self really is. I remember being shocked while living in South Korea as an English Teacher, by various “strange” cultural differences. For example I recall lining up in a shop to buy milk and having an elderly lady push in front of me. My first though was, how rude these people are, when I fact I later learnt that I had been the “rude “person by expecting to be served before my elder.
The false self doesn’t even exist. It is a total fantasy built from preferences and untested assumptions about who we are. Sometimes referred to as the egoic self, the false self isn’t bad, it helps us navigate the complex social matrices we all live in, but when we are unaware that this false self is not us, we are imprisoned.
If you are trying to feel OK by developing and improving the false self then you are stuck in a fantasy. The false self is not you! If you made it, then how can it be you? You are the true self, a conscious being behind the identity. We can experience this true self in several ways, great suffering, great love, prayer or meditation. When we start to see the world nondualistically, or without judgement, as we step back from our self-formed identity we gain a little space. It is in this space we can see the world in a new light, but most importantly we start to see ourselves as we are.
As we step back we start to see ourselves and others with eyes of love and compassion and not as competition. You were born enough! You are the one who has decided you are not enough. The work is not to prove that you are enough but to remember you were always enough from the beginning and so is everyone else! There is no competition, no race for acceptance. God has no favorites basically. Unconditional love is yours for the taking when ever you allow yourself to accept it.
You were born enough!
When you realise you are the one judging yourself as not enough, you can see the solution. Until you accept yourself how will you ever be authentic? Operating from the true self is the only way to be real enough with others to experience true peace and true relationship. When we pretend and play our false-self games we only kid ourselves.
I hope in some small way I have been able to persuade you to start on the path towards true authenticity. I hope you can start to see that the false inauthentic self you are role playing isn’t really you, and sincerely I hope that you can start to experience real relationship and real acceptance of yourself as you are and then others as they are.