NO ONE CAN MAKE YOU FEEL INFERIOR WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT- Eleanor Roosevelt
Imagine being able to sit at a table with your favorite musicians, favorite actors, favorite politicians, favorite spiritual teachers, and any other modern-day hero’s… would you feel inferior? Would you feel like you belonged at the table? Or, like most of us, would you shrink into a corner awestruck?
The truth is many of us don’t just do this around our hero’s, we do this every day. We think & feel inferior, like we don’t matter, like our opinions aren’t important, like our lives are “less than” & less valuable. (Granted, some of our opinions do stink and we should keep them to ourselves).
There’s a powerful Hebrew proverb that wisely declares “The Fear of man is a snare” Prov 29:25. Maybe that’s you… maybe your life is governed by what others think of you…or should I say…. What you THINK others think about you. Here’s a few tips for dealing with those limiting insecurities and belief systems.
1-“Comparison is the death of all joy” -Mark Twain
The second you get into comparing your life with others you’re already toast. Didn’t you know your fingerprints are unique… you can’t possibly be anyone else. God doesn’t want clones or robots for that matter. When you look at others & imagine what it’d be like to live like them or walk in their shoes without maintaining a steady dose of gratitude for the life you’ve been given you’ll end up in a pit of despair. You’ll violate or neglect your own moral code & those you love most just to “make it”. Most of us don’t know “our purpose”. We don’t feel our lives have meaning. Question…. Suppose an architect builds a robot… and the robot comes to life… who is responsible to give the robot an identity? The architect. Most of us have never really taken a season of life, or for that matter made it a daily priority to ask the architect to give us purpose, meaning, and direction. Faith is expecting you will receive an answer. Beware you aren’t receiving your identity & significance from your colleagues, friend group, or financial status. These things are massively fickle & will ultimately fail you.
2-Get clarity on your core values & whose opinion really matters. Get a good cup of coffee, write down 3-5 people who matter most to you, respect you, & love you well. When you are feeling insecure return to these 3-5 people for encouragement and support. Consider their opinions as primary over your other acquaintances and colleagues.
3-“YOU FEEL THE WAY YOU THINK”-Dr David Burns “Feeling Good”.
Identify any cognitive distortions influencing you. Cognitive distortions are simply deceptive thoughts, warped thoughts, half-truths, contaminated thinking. Imagine wearing neon green lenses and seeing the world as neon green. Our thoughts & belief systems act as filters. They influence how we perceive others, ourselves, God, and the world. These Top 3 Cognitive Distortions can wreak havoc in your life & contribute to feelings of inferiority & despair.
MIND READING. “You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion” (Burns)..You simply assume you know what others are thinking about you but never get facts!
FORTUNE TELLING- this is comparable to having a magical crystal ball that fortells misery for you. You imagine something bad is going to happen or has happened to you and you treat this is a fact. Example, you launch out after your dream of becoming a entrepreneur but in your free time you visualize only worst case scenario outcomes. You now have filled your mind with images of failure which often turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy, robbing you of energy and hope.
EMOTIONAL REASONING- You believe your emotions as evidence for truth. Your logic “I feel like a loser, therefore I am a loser”. This kind of reason is misleading b/c your feelings reflect your thoughts and beliefs. If your beliefs and thoughts are distorted-which they often are- then your emotions will have no validity.
Challenge those irrational/warped thoughts by writing them down & creating alternative responses, reframing, and visualizing alternative outcomes. When you do this you are allowing the logical, analytical, problem solving part of your brain a chance to chime in and challenge the emotional brain. With practice you can actually re-wire your own brain! (For more on this look up the TRIPLE COLUMN TECHNIQUE by Dr David Burns).
4-Practice “Shame attacking exercises”
A shame-attacking exercise is simply an action which you take that you believe will draw some form of social ridicule or public disapproval. The idea is that you face your fears, you expose yourself to them so they lose their grip over time.
Some examples-loudly proclaiming the floor numbers as you travel in an elevator, ask a complete stranger for one dollar, singing in department stores, and wearing ugly mismatched clothes at the mall. Sitting up front at a church service and raising both hands during worship. If you consider yourself an intellectual or someone who must be perceived as competent purposefully sending an email or text with typos in it without correcting!
In summary… time to stop comparing. Time to circle the wagons and decide which voices are worth listening to. Time to step up to the plate and take responsibility for your thoughts. At the end of the day, you aren’t responsible for the crazy thoughts that enter your mind but you are responsible to suffocate or ignore them!