The vast majority of us are afflicted with an almost constant sense of lack. We never feel that we have enough money, possessions, time, beauty, social acceptance, love, etc. Why?
The sense of lack is a direct cause of feeling inadequate. When we feel that we aren’t enough, we attempt to compensate by acquiring. But what causes us to feel inadequate?
During our young, impressionable years we were criticized, ridiculed, rejected, and/or punished. Parents, schoolmates, and/or teachers told us, via words or actions, that we were not worthy of love just the way we were. That hurt deeply.
In self-defense, we created another self -- a false persona (ego) -- in which we acted or appeared different from the way we truly were in an attempt to be more acceptable to others. We each developed our own particular brand of ego (the athlete, the know-it-all, the seductress, the comedian, the hoodlum, the soldier, the victim, the goth) and used that as a way of impressing others (or ourselves).
We put up this façade for years or decades, and while we might have gained some people’s “acceptance”, all they accepted was our fabricated, phony self; they didn’t accept the true us because they didn’t even know us. Deep down we knew this, and so we held onto the (erroneous) belief that we were unworthy of love. As a result, our need to “prove” our worth never diminished. No matter how many times we impressed others with our accomplishments or appearance (i.e., our ego), we never believed we (our true self that we kept hidden) had worth, so we had to “prove” it again and again and again using guile and deception. We lived in constant fear of anyone finding out how worthless we “really” were, of being exposed as the frauds that we were.
And so here we are. We have an almost constant, nagging sense of inadequacy. Since we can’t become more, we attempt to compensate by acquiring more. This need to acquire is constant because our sense of inadequacy is constant. This is precisely why we never feel that we have enough: enough money, enough time, enough love. It is not these things that we need; what we need is a feeling of self-worth.
The sense of inadequacy is a major source of fear, anger, and conflict. The need to feel adequate is so great that we deceive, belittle, rob, and even commit violence against one another in an attempt to feel better about ourselves.
As long as we feel this deep sense of inadequacy, we will continue to maintain our ego as a protective mechanism. We cannot shed our ego by merely deciding to do so, because the sense of inadequacy will fuel it. What we need to shed is the idea that we have no inherent worth; once we do that, our ego will disappear on its own. When we know and accept our true self, we will no longer feel the need to gain others’ acceptance or delude ourselves that we’re better than they are. Judgment, conflict and drama will all but disappear because the ego is their main cause.
How do we stop feeling worthless? By looking back on the ignorance it took for others to devalue us. Perhaps they didn’t like something we said or did. Did that make us worthless? Of course not. Their dislike of our words or actions was merely their opinion. If they verbally or physically attacked us, did that make us worthless? No. They were acting from their own sense of inadequacy, trying to make themselves feel better by putting us down. Even if we did something selfish, we were only acting from our current state of development; we have learned and grown since then, so we are no longer like that and hence it would be foolish to keep beating ourselves up over it.
The erroneous belief in our inadequacy has persisted way too long. It started when we were young children, and to keep it going is one of the hugest mistakes we can possibly make. It is time to move on.