This blog is about how an artificial and inflated idea of Self is created through a compensation-procedure where we feel 'less than' or 'not enough' in relation to something else we deem necessary for our self-worth. This procedure is illustrated by pitting the traditional success-story of money and a well-defined career-path with other 'admirable qualities' we ascribe to ourselves.
Many times it has happened that I saw myself challenged with little money and the bare minimum to live off. And most of the time it has been quite alright. I worked four days a week and got by, buying myself some new stuff only if I really needed it – which was fine. Only that it wasn’t really at the same time.
For I, we and all of us attach value to being a ‘system-success’ to a greater or lesser extent – desiring the display of having money and telling success-stories of a well-walked career-path. Why? Because it is still an apparent indicator of our success as human beings.
And even though I didn’t agree with idea on a conscious level (there is more to life than money right?) – I did attach value to it on a more hidden, subconscious level. When we have a career and ‘climb the stair of success’ where are reimbursed handsomely for our sweat and labour – we tend to define ourselves as someone of recognition and establishment. And I turned out to be no different.
Given, it seems that the tide is turning somewhat on a socio-cultural level: more and more people are apparently starting to see that money and success isn’t everything. Yet we still have to be very clear with ourselves, for what we have been taught by our cultures in terms of ‘us being a success in relation to money, success and career’ is what we have insidiously been led to believe as a core-truth of existence. The media telling us to aspire ‘bling bling’ and parents wanting to be ‘proud of us’ are two examples within that. And as this belief-programming starts at a young age, it does tend to stick with us on a deep psychological level.
As said, on a conscious level I disregarded, and even felt superior to, the aspiration of the ‘chasing-the-collar-tie-and-Ferrari-success-story’. I had ‘more to me’ than the mere chase of earthly riches – such as the values and virtues of intelligence, insight, education, a sense of artistry and a demeanour of living up to a humanism-inspired code of ethics and principles. Now, as I scrutinized and picked apart my belief-systems and assessing my core-ideas on deeper levels, it has become evident that the hardwired belief of ‘money + success = better human’ is still there - and actually has never left the building. And, additionally and of no small value, I found out that my adopted set of self-values and –virtues actually functioned as a peacocking-suit to up and enhance my self-definition and self-worth. This in order to make up for something else I actually didn’t feel too good about, namely me not being a system-success as defined by money and a shining career.
What I had done to deal with this was subconsciously (and thus largely outside of awareness) ‘updating’ myself. This happened in such a way that I substituted and replaced my diminished sense of self-esteem due to not being a system-success with the (aforementioned) ‘admirable’ qualities, virtues and values like ‘being educated, intelligent, and a well-travelled guy’. And that I did this from the starting-point of these ‘qualities’ and ‘values’ being a compensation for not having to face and admit that I DID feel ‘not good enough’ as a human being because of my apparent lack of ‘system and financial success’.
Basically, it was the following formula (held for true in the subconscious):
Me = not a system-success = not good enough = bad = Unacceptable
=> Emergency plan to repair Self to become Good & Acceptable
=> Good = being educated, intelligent, etc. = acceptable = 'good enough'
Repairing Self through compensation-tactics for an underlying ‘lack’ (i.e. not being good enough) never solves the point – for the underlying cause isn’t solved. It just covers it up with superficial niceties in order to not feel bad about ourselves.
By opening this up, and seeing it for what it is, I felt an urge to deny: “This can’t be me”, “I know I am not run by money” and “Humans are more than money and system-success, and money doesn’t determine worth in life”! Truth had to be told though, and I had to admit that this actually formed a large chunk of my subconscious thinking - which equally impacted and defined my self-beliefs. I had to face the fact that a handsome part of my self-esteem was suffering because of me comparing myself to a system-standard where I wasn’t ‘making it’ and even went so far as to label myself as a ‘failure’.
Now, with exposing this, one would perhaps expect that I would feel even more shit about myself - for the truth came out! Holy moly! That’s scary shit right!
Yet the contrary is true. Exposing and seeing your tucked-away subconscious beliefs and the nasty self-comparisons that flow from it is a liberating thing to do. You see the ‘demon’ for what it is, name it, and consequently it loses a large chunk of its power over you. Its power is in the dark, where you cannot see it and where it can control you without you being aware of it. Being cognizant and aware of what controls you and what makes you uneasy and feel bad about yourself ‘outside of awareness’ is dealing with your ‘inner demons’. And so a point of self-understanding and self-empowerment opened up.
Now, having realized this, I know what I can work on; what I can forgive, drop, and let go of, and what I can change – which is me now working towards a real dropping of the point of me feeling inferior and diminished in comparison to the ideal of being a system-success. This is done by mapping out the belief-system in detail, forgiving myself for it, and then writing and living the self-corrections.
This dropping and self-changing has had the effect of me coming closer to myself. For I accept an honour myself for being the me that is, indeed, not defined by system-success. This I could only have realized by actually first admitting that I did believe system-success is defining (my) human worth – and so I had to see the truth of me and my beliefs before I could let it go.
This modus operandi of hardcore self-investigation and seeing the ugly and inconvenient truth is much more worthwhile than pushing its reality away, or ‘updating’ yourself by ‘becoming something else’ that makes you feel better about yourself to compensate for the original pain/fear/self-issue.
Speaking of, and even more so, my discovery of me ‘updating’ myself as a compensation tactic for dealing with my inferiority-issues in relation to system-success by labelling myself as ‘an educated and ethical man’ etc. led me to see and understand something very important: that all these self-definitions are equally artificial, inflated and unreal, as they are not based on anything substantial but only to make me feel better about myself not being good enough as a system-success.
So it turned out that my self-definition was basically a trade-off in self-worth where ‘other desirable self-qualities’ were exchanged for the lack in ‘glories of system-success’ – this in order to make me feel better about myself. Naturally, discovering this, I had to face the fact that that these compensatory ideas of myself were equally false, just as the system-success idea in the first place.
Now, what to do next? My Self-Definition as a worthy and respectable man due to my ‘qualities’ toppled to a large extent in seeing that it was all based on a lie and ultimately on a bartering game in inferiority issues. What is left then? Who are you and what is your worth when it all turns out to be bullshit in the first place? To tell you the truth: more than all of these self-beliefs summed up and combined.
To drop Self-Beliefs is liberating. Not only will you have less ‘psychological burden’ to carry, you have also less to defend and uphold (in the case your – fragile - self-definitions are perceived to be undermined). And, most of all, you are much freer in your thinking and acting for you discard some beliefs that determine in a pre-defined way who you are and how you should function by definition.
You definitely feel lighter and more ‘here’ dropping those Self-Beliefs - more grounded and much less vulnerable. Dropping Self-Beliefs make you come closer to yourself, and within it being able to stand as the strength and being that is you – without definitions of who you are or should be.
Now, I am not the only one dealing with this ‘system-success’ problem. Many of us do, as it is a core design / flaw of our psychological make-up to compare ourselves to an external standard and to others who have more of that what we want - of what we think is of worth in existence. And often we feel less well-off in that respect, of even at the failing end. Consequently, we start to play games with ourselves and invent ‘qualities’ and ‘traits’ in order to compensate for the fact that we do not want to face our ordeal of living a life where we are ‘not good enough’, diminished and feeling less than others or an artificial ideal we uphold for ourselves.
For this blog I specifically shared about the ‘system-success’ belief (out of the library of other psychological belief-systems I have dealt with), as I realize many of us have to face with this problem, consciously or subconsciously. And I know myself how deeply impacting it is for our inner well-being. So I hope we all will take the steps to investigate ourselves and see what lives inside of us as a psychological reality. This in order to expose, drop and let go – in order to become freer, better and more grounded and empowered human beings standing in our strength. Which is what we all can attain.