Lately I’ve noticed a flurry of fairly frequent thunderstorms. They seem to occur almost everyday and more than once a day. They seem a bit unusually frequent and in some ways reflect the discordance within my psyche. When I was growing up, I’d say a key part of my self-esteem was the knowledge that there were some things that I could do much better than other people. I’m not the best in everything, but there is one special niche that I’m the best. And when I’m there I feel good. But I’d say over the past few years I’ve been struggling in this area. And this struggle I’m finding is a key thing in my life.
From my teens all the way up thru my late 30’s, I always thought of myself as an exceptional computer technologist. Starting at the age of 15 I was a computer geek spending hours and hours programming for the fun of it. I wired together my own digital circuitry in junior high school. It wasn’t until my freshman year as an Electrical Engineer in Villanova University that I got to read texts showing me what I already knew how to do in junior high school. I was a techie nerd thru and thru. Steve Jobs, the founder and CEO of the company Apple, once described the spread of talent in the world of computer software professionals being a 200 to 1 ratio between the most talented minds to the least talented; meaning a top notch computer programmer could outdo the work of up to 200 other lesser capable programmers combined. I can’t say I was one of those 200 to 1 talented computer geniuses, but I was probably at the 50 to 1 level. At least that was what I thought. Yeah, I guess I had a big head.
And then back in late 2009, I found myself on the brink of getting layed off and my knowledge of computers entirely in question. In fact there was a period in which I felt I was the least talented in computers; a techie dunce. In fact I started to doubt my ability to operate a DVD player. And when that happened I felt and thought: “I don’t know anything about computers. What am I good for?!” Eventually, I was to find employment again based upon someone else’s belief that I was very good at computers and I guess it’s turning out that I’m pretty good at computers; maybe even very good … possibly a lot better than most. Hmmm is this a familiar pattern?
In this example I went thru periods of thinking I was one of the best in the business to thinking it was all a fluke and maybe I was one of the worst. I bring up this point to highlight the fact that when you think you’re the best, it’s also got the trappings of you’re not enough, in fact possibly the belief that you are the worst. In one of Barbara Brennan’s books she introduces the concept that when one starts feeling superior they are also starting to feel inferior. At first these concepts sound contradictory. How can being the best be the same as being the worst?
At first blush it’s because when you achieve that state and feeling of being the best, it’s only a momentary high, that starts to get filled with fear and peril. Because once you’ve achieved the best, it seems there’s little room to get better, unless you work progressively harder and harder. You feel the pressure to hold up expectations of being the best, and it seems that the odds of you slipping off your pedestal only increase with time. And so you question the worth of what you achieved. You wonder if it was only a fluke, pure luck. In the end a fall from the pedestal of the best can make you feel like the worst. A deeper look at the state of feeling the best comes out when you ask the question of why you think you are the best. It will inevitably be, because you can point to some tangible award, accomplishment or achievement that in comparison to others is the highest, the best. The fact of the matter you must point to things, achievements and accomplishments. Which is to clearly stress the point that if it weren’t for the concrete proof of the wining, achieving, or accomplishing then there’d be nothing but just plain old you. Imagine you, stripped of everything you could be proud of.
What if you were stripped of the ability to point to any accomplishment, achievement, even anecdote that proved you were better than others? What if all you could say is that you exist. You can show no accomplishments. You are just a human. You can walk, talk, breath, eat, drink and sleep. Sometimes you get angry. Sometimes you get scared. Sometimes you are happy. Sometimes you are sad. Nothing fancy. Nothing amazing. Nothing impressive. Now tell me about your worth?
In some fairly humbling and humiliating events in my life, I’ve come to know that I am worth because … I exist, period. All the accomplishments and achievements are merely the trappings of fluff that so easily draw me to make conclusions that I’m better or worse than another person, when really the only thing I can say is “I just am” and that’s actually saying a lot. It’s not about the accomplishments, it’s not about your title, it’s not about how much money you make, it’s not about the things you own or don’t own, it’s not about the famous people you know, it’s not about how much fame you have that determines your worth. In fact nothing determines your worth. You simply are worth just because you exist. You are so very important. No need to prove. No need to show. Period. End of story.
So easily said. Maybe a bit less easy to believe. And much harder to internalize emotionally and spiritually. A sign that I know I’m entering the zone of “not good enough” is when I enter that feeling of “wow, I’m really really good” When I start to think I’m better than others. When I start feeling very confident and superior. The warning flag goes up that when I’m feeling superior it’s really just a cover for my feeling of inferiority — despite the fact that my ego generally doesn’t believe this.
And so over the past few weeks I’ve been more cognizant of feelings of superiority and feeling quite bothered by them. And emotionally, it’s like some part of me gets a charged ego cloud, and then a countering critical voice says: “stop getting a big head” and it’s like a grumbling of thunder and lightening emerge in this inner struggle of me fighting to be the best, recognizing that being the best is the flip side of being the worst, and then struggling of how to rise about this dimension of ego. And sure enough in the very midst of that feeling of superiority I get struck by a lightening spark of inferiority. It could be me starting off reading about a child hood friend. Initially, I scoff:
“Man I was definitely way better than that person. Boy he was really struggling with his direction in life. Boy he’s still clueless”
And then I read more about that person’s life and the superior voice inside me also goes:
“Wait. He got his own book published and I didn’t, wait he has kids and I don’t, wait he’s got his own business, he looks so happy … but I’m better right? But if I’m envious of the person I’m better than, than what does that make me ….”
And then that voice starts to defend my self esteem trying it’s best to knock down the accomplishments of that other person with word like:
“Well. You know anyone can publish a book. You just have to put up the money for a book printer to print out books. Now selling a book is another story. Now if his book was selling well that would be something. So he’s not really that great.”
And then the final neurotic critical voice of:
“Geez, Wilson. Look at you. You are really stooping low. What does that make you?”
And then I settle into a more compassionate voice of:
“Why are you feeling so not enough, Wilson? Looks like you could sure use a hug.”
Superior or inferior. It kind of always has this bitter taste that I want to get out of my system … lest I start beating up myself.
There are times that I feel superior and it’s not that far from those times I feel envious of others and feel less. It tosses up skirmishes of “Geez, I’m better than him or her. I could do that. I should be there” And then counter sparks of “Geez Wilson you’re so superficial. A true better person would rise above that and actually feel so happy for them.” And then I drop down into self disappointment. So I try to just sit with it for a while and let those voices speak out, like sparks of lightening and thunder. I try not to escape and rise above it all so that I can pretend that I am not capable of being so petty. And then when I feel like I need some healing I go back to some of the glimpses I’ve had.
Some of my glimpses of how to heal within this this state of superiority/inferiority have come in moments in where I can sit within the embrace of divine love. Some times it’s in a meditation. Sometimes it’s in a energy healing session either as healer or client. Sometimes it’s just simply being present listening to another friend. When I can just connect with other people and just be so touched by their story and struggle. When I have been in awe of their humanity, in all it’s vulnerability and have so few words to say. In that state where I’m sort of speechless, the talk of “Guess what Wilson do you hear what that person accomplished?” or “Why aren’t you happy for the other person?” seem to fade into the background of meaningless gibberish. In that state it’s just: “Wow. I didn’t know you were You. Wow. I’m so glad to truly see You.” And that’s the state where I am able to internalize that I am worth simply because I exist and you are worth simply because you exist, and just being present is enough. Understand though I’m often not in this “divine love” state. But I’m glad to be there more and more often, or at least know the healing effects for me when I can take myself there.
So I’d like to get more of those glimpses of eye raising sunshine in the midst of storm clouds and thunderstorms that emerge within me. But for the moment it seems that somethings being touched within me that is causing a lot of thunderstorms, and pretty loud ones, as I guess I’m flushing out the struggles from self worth, to superiority to inferiority and eventual surrender to absolute love.
Everytime I think I’ve got a handle on it, in some ways I’m only fooling myself because the very act of trying to get a handle on it is just me trying to get back to winning over my feelings of insecurity. I guess I’m scared to let myself admit that I’m not so OK, for fear of falling forever. But I guess it’s going to be here, when I can allow myself to fall flat on my face, look like a total fool(at least from my perspective), and dare sit in the void of feeling worthless, that I will start to reclaim me, beautiful me, the part that I can’t see because of … well I’m not quite entirely sure yet.
And so I hope to be more OK in admitting that I’m not so OK, and to know that not being OK is really OK, in fact it’s actually better than OK. And declaring that you’re OK because you feel you are capable of acting OK, even though inside you’re feeling no so well, is not … well … actually … is also OK. It’s all OK, it’s all human, it’s all quite vulnerable, it can be quite scary and it can all be so very confusing.