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We literally buy into our own sense of inadequacy



This is going to be a bit of a rant...


From O levels (yes, I am officially Old) through a history degree, I was trained to write stuff that was carefully researched, well argued and logically structured, and to be as objective as possible. It was a skill that served me well in corporate life…and yet I noticed that my most rational, clear, calm emails tended to follow on from highly subjective, expletive-laden, emotional, irrational first drafts (with the “To” field carefully deleted before starting, as there tends to be a fine line between freedom of expression and unemployment).


In short, there is a benefit to be had from allowing yourself to freely express what you feel and believe, although a little caution in choosing where and to whom to do so is generally advisable. But I’m just going with a public blog, because that’s how I roll (in a spirit of honesty, I should probably mention that only about 4 people ever read it, but that does rather spoil the devil-may-care, rock'n'roll attitude, don’t you think?).


If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you may be surprised to hear that they aren’t first drafts. But they really aren’t. They’re me trying to break away from the dry, academic/professional style without quite being able to let go of the overthinking – of the need to argue every point with myself and justify everything I say. Scary as it may seem, given the end result, they do all involve a shitload of editing.


To have got this far into a blog post without having started again is a minor miracle. To have used the delete key only for the odd few words rather than whole paragraphs is another one. Am I due a third? Maybe it will be continuing in this way (after all, I’ve now said that’s what I’m doing, and it actually feels pretty good, so why not?!) and just posting it rather than spending days editing/rewriting. Who knows?


Anyway, I digress. Casting aside false modesty, that’s something I’m really rather good at. But I shall attempt to hide that particular light under a bushel and have a go at actually making a point – a ranty one, but a point, nonetheless.


We are conditioned to believe that we are not good enough

So, what I want to rant about is how we are conditioned, pretty much from birth, to believe that we are not good enough, and how we end up quite literally buying into this.


The world around us constantly creates standards against which we are measured. How often do parents tell their children about how they were early/late or slow/quick to do something? How often are we told by important (and often entirely well-meaning) figures in our lives that how we are is somehow wrong? Too quiet/too loud; too easily distracted/too obsessive; too greedy/too picky; too shy/too in your face, etc, etc. If the way you process, see or do things is markedly different to the mainstream, your teachers and peers will soon let you know that you’re “wrong”.


And so it goes on. We are bombarded with images of alleged perfection and success and made to feel that this is what we should be aspiring to. The message often seems very positive: this is what you deserve, what you CAN be and have – go for it! Yet underlying it is the less obvious but more sinister message of “This is how you SHOULD be, you sad sack of shit.”

Does my bum look big in this?

I think this is especially true for women, who have to contend with the fact that the mass media, and, arguably, society as a whole, is only interested in women who are deemed to be “sexy”, based on whatever the current trend is (back in the ‘80s we worried “Does my bum look big in this?” because it shouldn’t, and now, it seems, it should. Life is confusing…).


Mainstream “sexy” does not involve natural things like wrinkles or stretch marks or cellulite or grey hair or, indeed, pubic hair (which is a weird hypocrisy given our visceral loathing of those who are attracted to pre-pubescent children, but I promised to try not to digress, so am shutting up about that now).


And this is perhaps where my contention that we literally buy into our own sense of inadequacy is most obvious.


Feeding the machine

Many women bemoan the fact that age causes us to be airbrushed from media representation…while buying anti-ageing products and striving to look as young as possible.


We may rage against the machine…but we often do it while handing it our hard-earned cash in order to meet its dictates.

And so the machine sees itself validated: “We know they say their wrinkles don’t matter, but they buy all this anti-ageing cream, so they must want it, so we’re going to keep pushing it!”


We talk the talk of how age does not impact our value…while walking the walk of spending a fortune on lotions, potions, cosmetics, treatments, hair dos, and body-shaping underwear in the hope of being mistaken for younger than we are.


Of course, it’s not just women (although the age thing is definitely way more focused on women). From aftershave to cars, men are targeted with imagery that makes it clear they are supposed to be strong, successful and powerful. Oh, and tall.


(That’s a physical issue men definitely have to contend with more than women, isn’t it? Tom Cruise may be one of the most successful Hollywood stars of all time, but we still feel the need to comment on his height. And after all that Napoleon achieved (and lost), he must be turning in his grave at how often the main point of discussion about him is whether he was a short-arse or not. But digression seems to be occurring…again…)


In short, we are surrounded by imagery of how we “should” be, and it’s rarely how we actually are.


But that’s ok – because this car/phone/scent/lotion/drink/outfit/treatment/programme/whatever-the-fuck-it-is will fix, or at least distract from, our fundamental inadequacy and hopefully secure us if not untold wealth, success and popularity, then at least some temporary attention, the envy of our friends, a few SM likes, or a hearty shag – or a combination of some or all of the above, depending on your preferences.


The more you believe you should be something/someone other than who you are, the more you will spend on buying shit to achieve that transformation. And the more the associated industries will carry on playing to that sense of inadequacy, because it makes them money. Welcome to capitalism.


Not putting someone else's lampshade on your head

Now, I very much enjoy a spot of retail therapy and am not suggesting for a moment that it’s wrong to do so. It can feel bloody lovely to have a nice face cream, a good hair cut, a snazzy phone, a gorgeous outfit, right? And I’m all in favour of feeling bloody lovely!!!


BUT there is a difference between enjoying the short-term pleasure of a purchase and wanting it to effect a long term transformation. Buying a face cream because it makes your skin feel nice is different to buying a face cream because you don’t want to look like yourself.


Similarly, there is a difference between working on allowing your unique, true light to shine, and putting someone else’s lampshade on your head.


You are perfectly you. Believe it. Be it.


There are loads of resources out there to support you in the whole light shining thing - just bear in mind that absolutely none of them are magic wands.

Take from them what helps YOU find YOUR way to YOUR answers.

The internet offers a huge supply of free resources - blogs, videos, webinars, podcasts, journaling prompts, etc, etc. On social media, you can follow all sorts of gurus, coaches, therapists, wellbeing experts and (of course) many people who share insights and pay forward the stuff they've learned from others that's helped them.

If you're willing to spend a bit of money, there are gazillions of fab books (I find myself particularly drawn to those with "fuck" in the title!) and plenty of low cost (as well as many not so low cost) workshops, courses and personal growth memberships out there.

If you're up for spending more, there is, of course, coaching. That's not cheap and it's really important to work with the right coach for you, so, if you're interested in it, I offer a free Try Before You Buy coaching experience (book an online Tea & Biscuits Chat and select the relevant option) - no charge, no pressure, no obligation. Just potential✨


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