So, the content of my previous post embracing inadequacy has really got me thinking – and a little worried. I’ve had ‘eureka’ moments before, only to be soon disappointed and back where I began. It’s definitely got my attention though.
In embracing inadequacy, I only address a core belief about myself (that I’m inadequate), but I’ve since started to ponder my others as well, as these too make up my world, rightly or wrongly.
The question I posed in my previous post was essentially, “What about if I just accept the fact that I am inadequate, rather than try to foster a more rational belief?” As I mentioned, this goes against everything I’ve learned in Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), which encourages unconditional self-acceptance.
I’ve been practising REBT on and off for about three years now, and although it has helped me immensely (far more than any other therapy), I’ve really struggled to accept myself. I now believe that this is because my core beliefs, however debatable, are my reality. I wish they weren’t. On a logical level I can see that they are not factually true, however, on a subjective human level they do make up my reality. I’m starting to wonder whether my attempts to challenge this reality, rather than accept it, are what’s causing me so many problems. The good news (for me at least), is I can still practise my beloved REBT, I just need to change the way I do it.
My three core beliefs are:
- I’m inadequate – not man enough (and therefore vulnerable)
- Other people (especially men) can sense my inadequacy, and are therefore untrustworthy and dangerous (as they can and potentially will exploit it)
- The world is unpredictable and unsafe, with danger lurking around every corner (and therefore is a frightening place)
Whether I like it or not, or whether it’s objectively true, is seemingly irrelevant as this is my world. Now, I ‘know logically that proving oneself to be inadequate is nigh-on impossible. I also ‘know’ that condemning EVERYBODY as untrustworthy and dangerous is a gross over-generalisation, and that the world is a place of varying degrees of safety etc. Knowing this, however, hasn’t helped one bit.
Following on from my core beliefs are my main fears:
- Being judged harshly
- Being humiliatingly, publicly exposed
- Behaving in an embarrassing or inappropriate manner (essentially exposing myself)
Additionally, I scared of physical confrontation (although this is underpinned by the above three fears), as well as death – annihilation, to be more precise (which in my dangerous world is an ever-present reality).
How is this relevant? Well, although I’ve been quite successful in challenging these fears, they are as much a part of my reality as my core beliefs are, and quite frankly I’m tried of trying to convince myself that being judged harshly etc. that whilst unpleasant, is not awful or catastrophic. That said, however, these too are a constant in my reality, so perhaps rather than challenge. them, I need to embrace them too.
Of course, this is all theory at the moment. Perhaps nothing will change, and at this stage I’m not even sure how to go about embracing these old acquaintances.
How I imagine it in my fallible mind, is that if I accept that I’m inadequate, and that others are going to judge me etc. then I needn’t waste any energy either trying to convince myself otherwise and failing, or beating myself up as I’ve already accepted the unacceptable. When I go for my appointment this morning I WILL be judged harshly etc. etc. This sounds so much more appealing than being frightened of being judged harshly etc, and then coming out of the appointment believing I’ve made a dick of myself (and beating myself up).
So, now all I need to do is adjust how I practise REBT. Perhaps it’s a simple as acknowledging that being inadequate is not the end of the world, that although other people are untrustworthy etc, I’ve been able to live with that until now, and that yes death and danger do lurk around every corner, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also enjoy life a little – in est, it’s not all doom and gloom. Who knows?! We shall see.