Tag Archives: inadequacy

Tremendous attention and outrage has been applied to the act of bullying. Unfortunately, almost all of the energy has been directed toward reacting to the act with punishment for the perpetrator and sympathy and counseling for the victim. Its contemporary handling has been focused primarily on the prevention of the action, yet, almost no attention has been given to the causes that would encourage one to do so,to what the victim broadcasts to attract his perpetrator or what kind of education or training would contribute to its prevention for the perpetrator and the victim.

Nothing happens at random. Because we live and grow in the physical world, we deal with our experience from an action/reaction perspective. For most of us, these understandings and perceptions are understandable and seem even reasonable. But, closing the barn door after the horses have escaped does little to prevent their escape in the first place. In the same light, punishing the perpetrator and counseling the victim from a victim perspective does little to prevent future occurrences. Their predisposition toward bullying or being bullied emanate from a deeply ingrained behavior learned in childhood. For us to be effective in our handling of this type of event something more must be come into play than to simply to punish or console. I’d like to offer some options for understanding but I must warn you ahead of time. Those who have been bullied, have children who have been bullied or have done the bullying themselves may take great offense at what I’m about to say. Please put aside your indignation and allow this to unfold in your understanding before you fold your arms and shut the door on what I’m about to say. It takes two to Tango. It also takes two to bully and to be bullied. Both the perpetrator and victim are implicated in what occurs, whether we or they are aware of it or not.

Let’s first start off by examining the old adage “birds of a feather flock together.” The more modern version of this is “like attracts like.” We can certainly see that people who like or do the same things will have an attraction for each other and are often found in the same groupings of people. Artists attract artists. Business people attract business people and so on. But can we also understand that people who are, say, very frugal with their money will also be drawn to people who throw money away? Yes! Why? Because both character types have a learned problematic attitude toward the handling of their money. In this light we can also say that people who are overly compassionate also attract people who are not and users always seem to find people who are easily used. It’s just a fact of life that we also attract our opposites. Why? Because an imbalance in issues draws us together more than which side or polarity of the imbalance we take our perspective from. Included in this perspective is the understanding that extroverts and introverts are opposites and are also attracted to each other in the same way. Both have an opposing tendency in how and how much they will tend to allow or seek contact with the “outside” world. Opposites attract as nature’s way of attempting to rebalance an issue that has become polarized. However, people who are a little more evolved and finely balanced than we will, most likely, not be perceived by us as being extroverted or introverted. For them, attention will be given to the degree to which they do or don’t project according to the appropriateness of the response required, not that they are opposites. We won’t see the polarity because their action will be in line and appropriate for what is needed.

For those of us who might not be quite as evolved, and that’s most of us, people who either advance into or retreat from contact will be perceived by us as being either extroverted or introverted. Let’s take this one step further. Bullies will appear to us as being more extroverted and those who are victims will appear to be more introverted. The issue creating the “difference” between them, outward projection or inward retreat, can be as strongly polarized for us as we compare male to female; active and receptive again reinforcing the fact that opposites attract. Our awareness is triggered by the perception of extremes. To us, the issue appears secondary.

So, now that we can see that like attracts like as much as opposites attract as a function of the issues not because of the sides or extremes we take in or perspective. The sides we take are simply symptoms of an issue that is unbalanced. Let’s move on and fill in some other factors in the dynamic picture that’s forming.

In examining how we handle contact with others we must look at character. We can initially assume that our tendencies toward exhibiting certain types of character may be either innate or hereditary. To some degree, I will agree with this. We most certainly seem to bring some forms of character and tendencies into life with us. But this may not be the only reason for our exhibited behaviors. Our tendency to either project toward or retreat from contact with others can also be trained or encouraged in us by those in our early environment such as parents or siblings. If we project a behavior that displeases someone in our early environment, their negatively perceived reaction may encourage us to refrain from using that same behavior, not only in the family, but in other circumstances outside the family. If we feel is frightened or intimidated by someone in our early environment, this will also intensify our reluctance to express ourselves the same way within and outside the family nucleus. Someone who is not innately introverted may then be shown that introversion may be the best behavior to exhibit within and outside the family to assure their emotional and physical safety. Parents who are extremely authoritarian or exhibit fits of anger when they are not pleased may very easily discourage their children into introversion thereby preventing them from exhibiting their innate behavior for fear that they will elicit unpleasant reactions. The child’s innate emotional strength has a lot to do with their responses. We must also understand that a strong spirited child may act out against discouragement of unwanted behaviors by the parents and not be subdued.

Contrarily, a child who may be innately introverted may feel encouraged by their parents to be more extroverted simply because their parental encouragement may give them enough confidence and courage to step outside their comfort zone, and perhaps even past ethical boundaries, to try new things. This will also be true with abusive parents when the child is taught or modeled that abusive behavior is appropriate to get what they want.

In both cases, hereditarily and environmentally, we’re working with nature verses nurture; also known as genetics verses environment. We all respond to both but in many varying degrees depending on their mix. What is environmentally trained depends on the mix between how we as parents respond to the behaviors we perceive in our children, our own level of emotional maturity and the emotional strength and resiliency of our child. We have the power to create balanced adults, narcissistic monsters (spoiled children feeling entitled) or people pleasers (fear induced submissives) depending on our behavior and what we encourage or discourage in our children’s behavior. Bullying is often a consequence of a pairing between apparent narcissists and people pleasers as opposites. Both the parent and child may be either. A submissive will create a narcissistic monster and a parent behaving narcissistically will create a submissive.

Children learn by example. They not only react but also emulate what they observe as “effective” behavior. The “effectiveness” will usually be paired with a purpose or intention, whether they are conscious of it or not. If a child sees that kind and tender behavior elicits a loving reaction, they will emulate that behavior to receive that response from others. If they see that an angry or abusive behavior elicits submission to their preferences, they will emulate that too. Whatever behaviors appear to work in getting the desired response from others will be emulated. A child’s emotional patterns are usually set by age three. An important factor in the development of their character is to realize that the young child as yet has no understanding as to whether their behavior might be nurturing or hurtful. At that age appropriateness never even enters the picture. All they know is that what they see projected by an adult or sibling achieves a result they may want.

There is one additional factor I’d like to talk about which may seem totally unrelated but bear with me. I will tie them all up shortly. This is the fact that animals can sense fear in other animals. When they become afraid they emit pheromones and are simultaneously catalyzed into a “fight or flight” response. This pheromone can be sensed by other animals and has a primary influence on whether one animal will choose to attack another. As part animal, humans have the same tendencies to sense and to emit these pheromones relating to fear. But now it is almost always an unconscious “recognition.” But there is an additional factor that humans have that animals are believed to not have. That is the potential to be able to think about possible future outcomes. In additional to instinct, fear can be generated by our minds by the perceived possibility of what can happen. When we as humans feel the fear, we also emit the pheromone. If we now connect this with a child who is about to be bullied, we can see that his release of pheromones and his fear response concerning what could happen can be sensed by a bully whether the bully is conscious of it or not. It is my belief that a bully will only bully those whom he thinks and senses that he can bully. The important factor to understand is that the bully may operate not only from a perspective of entitlement but also from fear. If a bully feels somehow threatened, they will bully or attack someone who appears or feels to be unable or unwilling to defend themselves. This will go a long way to alleviate any feeling of powerlessness or inadequacy on their part.

There are two types of bullies. Those who feel entitled to their safety and preferences and those who feel the potential loss of them.The first group is raised by parents who cater to the child’s every whim and create a feeling of entitlement within their expectations of the outer world. These children almost always exhibit an absence of compassion or consideration for others. These are the narcissistic bullies.

The second group is usually the recipient of authoritarian or abusive parenting. The modeling of their parents has taught them that the only way they can maintain their safety and preferences is to act aggressively toward those who trigger their feelings of powerlessness and inadequacy. As a consequence of the feelings of worthlessness encouraged by their parents or siblings, they will also tend to seek out, mostly unconsciously, those who emit fear pheromones and feel defenseless and those whom they feel that they can bully and believe won’t fight back. Bullying them into submission enables them to cloak and submerge their own feelings of inadequacy and feel the power they believe they lack. However, the feeling is gained only temporarily. The feeling of power quickly evaporates. What is truly ironic is that due to their unwary projection of their own sense of powerlessness and worthlessness they will constantly attract those who will answer their imbalanced perception of themselves with reminders of their own inadequate feelings. (natural entropy – nature’s tendency to neutralize polarities through their attraction to each other or opposites attract).

Both fear induced bullies and the “victims” of bullies need, essentially, the same kind of counseling; encouragement for worthiness and adequacy. However, the trained narcissists will require a different kind of counseling than bullies who operate from a fear induced aggression. The narcissist feels little or no fear relative to others. They’ve been trained into believing that they are entitled to whatever it is that they prefer in spite of what is brought to their attention by others. Counseling for them would consist, first, of awakening some sort of understanding and acceptance that others have and are allowed their own preferences if different from theirs and, second, that their total lack of awareness or attention to the needs of others should somehow be considered a deficit. The first factor would be mildly difficult to correct as it would require the narcissistic bully to relinquish some of their preferences. The second factor will be much harder to induce since it is irrevocably tied up with the ego. The older the bully, the more ingrained and embedded the feeling of their entitlement as being appropriate. With young children, the change is difficult but not impossible but with adults, the change seems only to be a distant hope. Remember, we are emotionally “coalesced” by age three and by the time puberty is added to the emotional mix, our ego boundaries become rigid and almost impenetrable.

We can now understand where the sense of entitlement comes from but where does the pre-emptive strike come in? When the fear induced bully feels triggered by the victim into feeling his unworthiness and inadequacy, the urge to strike is born. This activates the old adage “the best defense is a good offense.” If the bully can induce submission in the victim, the attention is drawn away from the bully’s own feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy and focused on the power they feel over their victim. If this doesn’t subdue these feelings, their actions will be over-emphasized. The stronger their sense of worthlessness and inadequacy is, the more intense becomes the bullying. The more elusive the submersion or cloaking of the bully’s worthlessness and inadequacy becomes, the more violent their bullying.

So now we have a perspective understanding of the two types of bullies and the victim. All three have their issues applicable to the creation of the problem. It takes two to Tango. Yet, consoling the victim and punishing the perpetrator does little more than to push their feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy further underground. In fact, consoling and punishing has the opposite effect. It intensifies the issue because it often ignores and suppresses its causes. It is common knowledge that anything that is emotionally compressed surfaces more violently in other unexpected areas and circumstances.

Bullying can be prevented in our children by making sure there is a balance between Self-Trust and confidence and their consideration and compassion for others. There must be enough Self-Trust to build worthiness and feelings of adequacy but enough humility and consideration for others to keep their interaction with others balanced and congenial. This must be taught if we wish to decrease the incidences of bullying. This may require some adults to receive some form of counseling if they are to prevent passing on this emotionally destructive and debilitating pattern to their children.

self-doubt-7With every endeavor on untried ground there rises within us some measure of doubt as to whether we will be up to the task, accomplish what we desire or how we will appear to others as we conclude our efforts. But what is doubt? Where does it come from? Is it something that we’re born with or is it something that is learned and acquired? My belief is that it is learned and acquired.

When a baby begins to walk, talk or eat, these activities occur naturally, without effort or concern. Why? The thought processes that qualify or judge what we are doing have not been formed yet. Ask yourself this question. Have there been activities like painting, cooking, sculpting, reading or running that you have become so involved in doing that time, environmental circumstances and your concern with other issues never came to mind? It’s like you’ve been out of phase with the world, taken out of the loop, out of touch. What’s truly interesting is that after such an experience you end up feeling recharged, refreshed and more grounded and centered than you were before you started. Why? It’s because the mind and it’s judgments didn’t interfere with what you were doing.

Our judgment of the world comes from the workings of the mind. This is something that we were taught whether by our parents or from the feedback we get from others assessing our activities. These judgments come unhindered and are quietly incorporated into our beliefs about ourselves and who we are and then slowly and easily submerge into our subconscious. As children we become so attuned to what pleases our parents and family that we ultimately either transfer their authority and opinions to other significant people in our lives such as relationships, friends, enemies, neighbors and more or attract others to us who embody those same standards. As humans, we seek to create familiar circumstances over and over in our lives so we can feel security in the continuity of things. As children, and often as adults, we’re trained to take to heart what other say and feel about who we are and how we perform. As a result we go through a constant process criticismof comparing what we want to do with our perceived opinions, needs and requirements of others. Then, as we consider doing things that others may disapprove of or believe that we are incapable of, our mind very slowly begins to rationalize the validity of their opinions and judgments to the point that our own internal conversation begins to convince us that what we’ve chosen to do is unreachable or self-defeating.

Our doubt comes from two places: personal experiences that didn’t measure up to our expectations and learned internal dialogues that echo our parents and the opinions of others over our own. The first view necessitates the garnering of courage just to try again what we’ve attempted but from, perhaps, a different approach. This scenario is usually manageable and easy to overcome since this type of limitation is completely under our own control. However, if our doubt was initiated by training from others, it’s a bit more difficult to overcome, especially, since we had no control over the forming of what we now believe about ourselves before we even knew that we had a choice in such matters. Children almost always carry on their parents’ assessment of them throughout their lives, if not consciously, most certainly unconsciously. If their parents taught them to not believe in followtherulestheir abilities but to trust others over their own judgment instead, doubt will be a predominating influence in everything they do. What makes this so difficult beyond the fact that it has been incorporated into our belief system is that we also have no control over the doubt reinforcing feedback we receive from others. Because it’s ingrained in us, we tend accept those limitations at face value never questioning their validity.

If our investment in the opinions of others about whom we are and what we’re capable of is strong, doubt will be the primary limiting factor in every activity we consider doing throughout our lives. It acts like a hidden virus coming from a small seed, growing and overpowering our lives. Our self-worth will be sabotaged at every turn and we will feel powerless and insignificant at our core rationalizing that our perceived ineffectiveness comes from the world and the obstructions provided by others. In that light we never realize that our limitations came to us through our own early training. To extricate ourselves from this perspective we must first come to the understanding that doubt is a product of our own minds and training and that we must learn to trust our own feelings rather than the opinions of our parents and others in spite of our fear of their possible negative judgments and assessments. This is the hardest scenario for us to overcome.

If our faith in the judgments of others over our own is not as strong, our doubt may creep in intermittently depending on the circumstance triggered. There may be some situations where in we feel confident and others that we don’t. We must sort out which are which and work on the ones that are the most limiting through asking questions of ourselves as to where our doubt about them is coming from. Once the source is recognized, we can consciously take steps to intentionally create new experiences within the same issues thereby reprogramming our attitude and trust after Pic-The Thinkersuccessful completion creating a new assessment of ourselves and removing any potential for doubt. Restoring confidence can only come from personal experience regardless of whether it is spontaneous or planned. No amount of coaching or positive affirmations can substitute for the personal inner work that must be done. How we feel about ourselves is our own choice. Even as a child this is true but subject to much more difficulty since, as a child, we don’t know yet that we have a choice.

Doubt is odorless, tasteless and invisible. It is probably the most lethal opponent to our ambition and self-confidence. It is a viral agent capable of sabotaging every effort an infected person is able to muster. But it can be eliminated with care, patience and keen observation of how we feel when we choose to invest in any endeavor.  If you doubt its potency, simply consider what microscopic entity saved our hides in the movie War of the Worlds. It was odorless, tasteless and invisible to the naked eye. Yet, it annihilated an entire invading force…and they never knew what hit them.

masks-5I think when any of us look back at the experiences we’ve had with another person we can’t help but wonder if our connection to and feeling about them somehow tempers the way we relate to them. This is the most prominent in people that we’d like to make a good impression on or those whom we want to continue our connection to them feeling that our interchange with them either encourages us to feel differently about ourselves and/or that we feel that they match some ideal or preference that we have about the people and circumstances we’d prefer to be associated and connected to. There are a number of different dimensions that we must consider when we wish to assess our part and presentation to the world and those whom we wish to be with. The first thing we need to look at is the difference between who we are and how we behave when in or out of their presence.

Who we are, essentially, never changes. How we behave does. It’s our behavior that other people see that’s used to decide and define who they believe we are. We, in turn, accept this as our identity. Remembering that we believe that who we are is our perception of how the world sees us, we know that that can only be defined by the things we do, the possessions we have and Programmer-1activities that we participate in that the world can observe. So we can say that we are a computer programmer because our daily work consists of working, getting paid and being response-able with others concerning computers. If we behave by the employer’s rules, others will perceive us as a programmer. We know that if we want to keep our job there is a specific rapport that is required for us to maintain that type of connection with our preferred company. If we do it as a hobby, we might be more inclined to say that we dabble in computers only because there are some unspoken rules about what we can call a job or career and what we can call a hobby. So our identity, as transient as it may be, is what the world sees of our behavior NOT who we actually are. Who we are remains the same. We are a perceiving, feeling, thinking person. The moment the world becomes involved in that identification, outside circumstances come into play making our behavior the determining factor as to our identity. This may seem like I’m splitting hairs but when we perceive, that is one dimension of relationship; our core or who we are. When we conceive of and perceive ourselves with another person or the outside world, that behavior or identity changes because it includes the reflections and responses of others. The point I’m making is that the behavior and rapport that we offer or support is dependent on whether we’re by ourselves or whether we’re with others and the type of connection that we wish to maintain in our career with them. The same is true with personal relationships. We all know that we can feel and behave very differently just being friends with someone or being intimate with them and even that intimacy can have a differing rapport being radically different between person to person and our imagined or hoped for rapport with them. So, to recap, when we’re by ourselves, we can, and usually do, behave one way and when we’re with others we can, and usually do, behave differently. On other words, when we’re by ourselves, there’s no impression to create or maintain. When we’re with others, there is. Are you with me thus far? Now, let’s look at why we would behave differently with different people.

Irresponsible parent1Our childhood upbringing creates experiences that push us toward choosing how we feel about ourselves. If we’ve been encouraged to make our own decisions, trust our own instincts and intuitions, we begin to feel confidence in ourselves as a “valid” person and come to believe that we have nothing to hide. If we have been discouraged from making our own decisions, over protected or dominated into NOT trusting our own instinct and intuitions, we begin to feel inadequate and come to believe that we must hide our perceived inadequacy, aka, we have something to hide. This is true for everyone whether acknowledged or not. Every one of us has some degree of this emotional current running below the surface of our awareness. Some of us may be aware of it, but most of us are either not or choose to ignore it. This difference in feeling is the one of the major deciding factors in why we feel compelled to behave differently with different people in different circumstances. Dependent on the level of perceived inadequacies it can lead to some unbelievable compensation made in our behavior in order to avoid the exposure of them for fear of feeling anticipated interpersonal or public shame. The other major contributor factor occurs when we do feel adequate but don’t feel compelled to cover believed short comings because we feel comfortable in whom we are or we have worked through many of the challenges of our childhood that might have created these inadequacies within us. In this second case we simply might just want to limit our exposure to masks-4or interactions with people that we have decided are, in our opinion, arrogant, imbalanced or combative. For those of us who feel comfortable in our own skin and who, essentially, don’t feel fearful of exposure leading us toward compensating, this is not an issue. We have our Self-Trust and a stable self-confidence well ingrained. Our major concern here is to determine what occurs when we do feel compelled to compensate or “adjust” our behavior in order to create an image or prevent exposure.

There are two directions that this compensation or “adjusted” behavior may present itself through us. Depending on how badly our spirit was damaged in our upbringing will determine which way we go. We can, either, project outward and “paint” a better image of ourselves in our interchanges with others or we can retreat into the shadows in order not to be discovered. When we project ourselves or strike out “painting” what we feel might be a better picture of who we think or believe we are, we then more actively lean toward compensating. When we retreat into the shadows we lean more toward hiding. With those of us who choose the active Wild_and_crazy_guysShyness-1path, and depending on the degree of compensation that we feel we need to apply in order to evoke what we consider a more favorable response from those we interact with, we may ramp up our output. With a mild need and a mild ramping, others might not feel anything odd in our approach to them. But for some of us who have a very low self-image, our push to create an image may sometimes become overwhelming to the point where it becomes overly obvious to others and they start to feel our overcompensation as something being “off” with us. These are people we often label as “obnoxious.” Those of us who retreat into the shadows we label “shy.”

As you may have guessed, there as a very poignant reason why some of us will push the point and others of us will just back down. Its cause comes from two sources. First, the soul or spirit we are before we enter this life and body may have preponderance toward either projecting outward or retreating inward. Then, once we enter these bodies, we are now subject to the additional exposure to and training by those whose care we are entrusted to and the environment we find ourselves in. These two different sources are what scientist call nature vs. nurture. The first influence we can clearly see is innate or a given resulting in our accompanying disposition. But the second is “adjustable.” This “adjustable” dimension can make or break our choice between projecting out and retreating. Projecting outward we label being extroverted and retreating inward we label being introverted. To understand the difference we can look the process of training.

I don’t want to speak “science-eze” but in order to make a point I need to say that in the training of any sentient being (we are one…hopefully) there is always a combination of rewards and punishments used as a compellent or force for change. Scientists call this training conditioning. Some parents train with rewards and/or bribes. Some train with punishment and/or withholding. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. But to avoid any human emotional prejudice on our part, let’s look instead at horse training or “breaking” as ranchers would label it rather than people.

horse breaking-2Each horse has a spirit and resiliency which usually returns them to a comfortable and active state after any trauma or difficulty has passed. This resiliency differs from horse to horse. Some horses may be able to take more punishment (trauma) or abuse than others. It takes a skilled trainer to “know” or feel where that limit is. When a trainer successfully trains or conditions a horse to respond to specific commands, their spirit, their life and liveliness is retained. They still have an expressive personality. They still have spunk and energy. But when the trainer estimates that limit badly and pushes beyond what the horse is able to recover from, the horse’s spirit dies. The spunk disappears. The life goes out of their eyes. They become void of personality and expressiveness. This same process takes place in the training of children. If a parent is authoritarian or abusive and misjudges the resiliency of the child, they may, literally, kill the spirit of the child through using excessive discipline or punishments to induce specific behaviors. The child will then retreat and feel hesitant or even immobilized toward expressing or performing for fear of more punishment or abuse. In parenting, the overall effect of over-protection and abuse is the same. With excess directives, protections, punishments or abuse the child becomes reluctant and/or unable to act at all because they have either not been given the opportunity to learn how to be independent or for fear of behaving in a way that will draw more punishment and disapproval. Allowing for lesser punishments or abuses we find that this type of exposure produces only mild inhibition and shyness. So, we can safely say that depending on how far the “trainer” has gone beyond the child’s ability to recover and to be Abuse-1resilient will determine how shy or buried the child’s spirit and personality will be. Those of us who lean more toward being shy or introverted are usually reacting to over conditioning by virtue of an authoritarian or overprotective parent. Before I move on I think that it’s also worthy to note that children who grow to become abusers themselves regain their spirit through reclaiming their power by becoming the abuser but at someone else’s expense.

So where does this leave us? Those of us whose spirit has been “broken” will retreat inward and behave as an introvert. Those of us whose spirit remains intact will project, compensate and behave as an extrovert. Remember, both may not actually be inadequate or incompetent but feeling and believing that we are will lead us toward modifying our behavior when we’re with others.

Shyness-3In answer to our opening question, “Do we behave differently when in a relationship as opposed to when we’re not?” We almost always do to some degree. Even the best of us who have done an outstanding job in becoming accountable and have been ruthlessly honest with ourselves will still have things that we feel we need to hide. This is only human. But that little bit of a “discrepancy” won’t lead us toward needing to compensate for anything. We’re comfortable to just let it go unnoticed. However, if our conditioning has left us feeling that we are somehow just not enough or competent enough, it is here where the need to compensate begins to grow. The more intense our perceived denigration is, the more intense will be our feelings of inadequacy. The more intense our feelings of inadequacy are, the stronger will be our urge to compensate.

who-am-i-2So, when we speak with someone, and it’s usually with someone who might be important to us, and we feel the urge to “flower up” a description of our experience or heighten the “wow” value of what we’ve done, we have to ask ourselves, “Where is this urge coming from? What makes me feel that I need to do this?” This will be the beginning of recognizing where our imagined and assumed inadequacies lie. The reality of it is usually not so and it’s only a factor of how we were taught and perceived our self-value as a child. Who led us to feel this way? Why? This is the root and the core of where we can kill any urge for us to compensate.