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sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of life...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Angst of "not good enough..."

Yesterday I woke up with a nagging sense that I was “not good enough.” It was triggered by the *thought* that I may have offended someone. This is an interesting neurotic tendency that I have - *assuming* that what I say may offend, rather than being somehow beneficial - creating yet another story to wrap my mind around. I often wake up in “storyland” before my day even gets started and then start obsessing endlessly, and spend the day trying *not* to obsess. I know some of you can relate to this as well. Crazy creatures we are!

While sitting out under what I now call my “Buddha Tree” :) - the Maple in my backyard – I felt a deep angst, unsettledness, and anxiety about this situation. I felt a core sense of inadequacy, of being flawed, “wrong”, of not being “okay.” And I could see what the spiritual teachers say, that this *feeling* is the root of my suffering, my angst: the sense that who I AM is not “good enough” – although at the level of Pure Being I *know* that is not true.

I have been making my way *slowly* through Tara Brach’s book “Radical Acceptance” - slowly because it is touching a deep nerve. She mentions this core sense of inadequacy which she calls “the trance of unworthiness,” the trance of the separate self, which she says is the “human condition.” Through her descriptions I am experiencing what she means by this and I am beginning to face this deeper pain within… Oh boy! How could I have known that my resolve to sit with Nature meant I would face my deepest neuroses and insecurities! I thought connecting with Nature would bring bliss and delight! :)

So now under the tree I am beginning to face my inner dragons – the ones I’ve been avoiding, the ones who wreak havoc in the Stillness. They want to be released from the dungeons. But if I release them, I rationalize, they might devour “me.” But I think that’s the point – to be devoured until there is nothing left but The Self – The True Nature. Yet, I’d prefer not to go through the fiery furnace, thank you very much! I’d rather believe my delusions of peace and bliss under the “Buddha Tree.” But it seems in agreeing to see what I need to see and hearing what I need to hear I have opened the door to the furnace… And I think “I” am about to be burned: the me-mind with its neurotic patterns, that is. Which is supposed to be a good thing, but I didn’t realize how much pain was actually involved.

This “basic” sense of inadequacy causes my mind to go off on neurotic journeys and tightens my stomach. I feel the urge to act, to free the angst, to find out *if* I have offended, to find out if I’m “okay.” It takes all I have to just sit – to go deeper, to touch my Essential Nature, beyond the mind; to *not* act on my neurotic tendencies and mind-created scenarios; to *not* feel “in control”; to *not* seek validation for this needy persona-self; to just sit and *be*… It was exhausting actually.

This *deep* sense of “wrongness” inside actually surprises me. I thought I had moved past it years ago. It appears it has remained hidden. This, it seems, is the “anxious quiver of being” that Ezra Bayda and Tara Brach and others talk about: This basic sense of flaw, fault, inadequacy, incompetency that underlies most of our actions, needs, wants and sufferings – internal and otherwise. And how insidious this is – this feeling that keeps everything unsettled and becomes the reference point for living!

With the recognition of this core feeling, a deep sense of compassion welled up inside – which also surprised me. And I realized that this compassion was not just for my own experience but for everyone who experiences the same.

And yet – despite this realization, and feeling this momentary deep compassion for the neuroses of mankind, the collective deep pain of inadequacy, I am still not able to completely face it, to see what’s there. So like a turtle I began to recede and hide behind the safety of the persona. In a sense hiding behind the inadequacy, the *belief* in not being good enough; hiding in the anxious quiver of the mind. How very strange…

It’s like we *use* our neuroses to hide, to cover over who we really are. We meet each other on the level of inadequacy, suffering and pain, pretending we don’t know who we really are, afraid to speak from that sense of knowing our True Nature.

As I sat, I asked: what is the “medicine” that is needed here, but received no answer. It was as if I was asking too soon, trying to find the “fix” to avoid the pain, trying to rush a release. It seems I just need to *be* with it, to wait until it’s fully met. So for now the “medicine” is the stillness of simple awareness.



  1. In dealing with my sorrow and pain that is coming to me in waves this year I know one thing...in pain there is growth...even a few weeks ago I was unsure of this but today...today I can feel an assurance that what I have been experiencing is growth to be sure...some of the lies I was told by my tribal family are just that. Lies..and no longer do I have to believe them...Carl Jung says we are not what happened to us...we are what we choose to become. That was pivotal for me and yet I had heard that quote for years and it never struck me like iron on anvil until just recently...so be patient with your stillness and your 'be'ing Dear Heart...your medicine will come when it is supposed to..and it will bring you joy. I just know that. I AM where I AM, you know?
    Stop playing the tape over and over in your mind...it does not help at all. Perhaps instead of sitting in your chair you could plant some seeds and watch the fruit of your labor instead. That is great medicine! :)
    Namaste' I'm with you!

  2. Yes, thank you Akasa ~ Maybe this sounded more dramatic then I intended. We all have to face our shadow-self - our "dragons" eventually. And I find I have been given this opportunity to open in this way, at this time, *through* "sitting in Nature." I see it as a gift actually. What I write here is only a snippet of what is actually experienced and the insights and understandings that I have gleaned in tending to these "orphans" that need to be embraced.

    As I mentioned, sometimes just *being* with them is what is needed and not rushing to resolve or try to "fix" them. In being present to them they often dissolve. And yes, I trust that the "medicine" is revealed in a timely fashion. There is no wallowing in pain here, but being present to what is when it arises and reveals itself from the space of Presence/Awareness/Spirit. And no, I am not just sitting in my chair :)

    We are always provided what we need to awaken to the Being that we truly are, as you know, even if it appears "dark."

    In fact, we already ARE our True Nature - our Beingness. There is nothing to "become." We just need to *see* it, *recognize* it.

    Thank you for your offering ~*~

  3. It is an interesting process (that's probably not the adjective you'd choose right now!). We go to practice to sooth our problems, to become more peaceful or whatever our personal solution is. And out comes all this crud! And while it's no fun I thing that the other state of not dealing with "our crud", not sitting with it, meeting it is worse. Then we always have this background angst that we don't understand. The more we work with it the more we get it. And I think we do grow and it makes us stronger. It seems there are many layers of it to go through and even my friend who has been a monk for 30 years has periods of darkness and "crud", They just pass a little more quickly for her. And I think there is a knowing that its all okay, even if it isn't much fun. Sit on, dear friend under the Buddha tree!

  4. I have similar anxieties from time to time. Not fun! Sometimes tho, I remember I have no control over anyone else. It's always up to them to decide to take offense or not. And it's also up to me to make that same choice. Boy! Have I got a lot of history with my own offense-taking! So there's lots of compassion to be found in the whole sticky mess-- compassion for my own clumsy self and for all the other clumsy selves-- all just trying to do the best we can, stumbling thru life with all these ambiguous words and deeds. Makes me want to sit still, more and more. At least sitting keeps me out of trouble!

    Heart-felt bows, MeANderi!

  5. Hello Dear ZenDS! :)

    Absolutely - yes - I see what you are saying here! And I'm really not concerned with it - just being with it was a little rough. We just never know when the "crud" is going to rise :)

    I actually *do* see this as an "interesting process" and actually feel somewhat relieved and grateful to have the opportunity to face this, rather than having it lurking beneath the surface. I mean, when you ask to be shown what needs to be seen you can't complain when you're shown! :) After all, this is the path I wanted...

    Thanks for your encouragement! Heart Smiles ~*~

  6. Hello Kris! So good to hear from you! Have missed your presence...

    Ah yes - I have no control over how others receive what I say. Thank you for that!:) I forgot that one actually. As you know from my previous posts this is a pattern for me: the self still concerned with itself, stumbling over itself... Very old stuff... So I am actually "glad"(well maybe not yet)this was revealed once again. And thank you for bringing your insights to it.

    Interesting phrase: "stumbling through life with all these ambiguous words and deeds." Will have to sit with that one a while... :)

    With gratitude as always for how you see through it all... ~*~


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