“It’s not my fault” was all I could keep saying in my mind over & over. Every time I thought it I burst into yet more tears. I cried all the way walking to the bus & nearly broke down a few times on the bus. I think what I was referring to was the way that I had been in my life to some of the people I had met along the way. It was nothing concrete or tangible. It was a feeling that had crept over me in the few days preceding it. I walked into therapy & just started crying. My therapist looked at me & said “what is not your fault”?
This, believe it or not, was me yesterday. Today I feel absolutely fine. As it turns out I have this small issue called “the feeling of inadequacy”. It affects a lot of us. We all at some time or another feel less in the presence of another or perhaps just not able to measure up to our peers. That we somehow haven’t made the best of the opportunities that were presented to us or we failed to even notice them. That the world is just more demanding than we could ever live up to. Rather than even attempt to figure out if the world, or perhaps those around us, are setting ridiculously high standards we just assume that we are the failure. We fall short.
As I wrestled with the question that he had just asked me & the question to follow which was “who would you like to apologize to”, I started to realise that unlike a lot of things in my life I seem completely unable to rationalise or be logical about this feeling. I stopped & thought for a while about why I felt this way. Everything I threw at him, which admittedly was feeble, he just explained was human & normal. He kindly reassured me that I was not my mother & that he had been prodding & poking me for months to discover if I was truly a bad person. Again he pointed out the holes in my, as we established already, feeble argument. I stopped crying.
We seem so unable to be logical about our place in the world. We only have to look around us at the muscle men searching for the perfect body that are in the nutrition aisle at the supermarket, looking like they could pop the lids off most of the canisters with just a flick of their finger. I have known people who have struggled with body image & eating. Now I am not saying that these things are easily solved with logic. What I am saying is that perhaps on the way to that stage if we were better able we could apply some logic & the problem would simply never go on to exist. If only we could all rationalise a little bit more.
My therapist & I established that some of my “problems” are actually very helpful. I will often take a problem on board & solve it before giving it to a loved one to become concerned about presenting them with simply the solution(s). We determined that this came from me being a toddler, having problems, going to my mother & my mother simply pushing me away from her with her hand. If I fell she didn’t want to know. If I banged my head she was indifferent. I learned to fix my own issues no matter how big or small. A handy trait, no? Well as an adult I feel bad that I might be shutting people out.
We are so quick to see the negative in ourselves that we very often overlook the positive. Every flaw we see we have has an equal positive. Selfish? Well that is perfectly normal. We get engrossed in things. Who hasn’t passed someone in the street that didn’t see us even if we shouted “hello”? When we get ill with a cold or flu we look after ourselves. Selfish is survival. Now I am not saying it is correct all of the time but very often we mistake the extremes of selfish behaviour of others as what we can sometimes do ourselves. This is not the case; extremes are often something else entirely. In my own case my Mothers selfishness is narcissism & not “selfish” in the way I view selfish.
So here we are a distorted view of ourselves & the world. People use words like “childish”, “petulant” or, yes you guessed it, even “selfish” to label other people. They do this because they do not agree with our behaviour at the time. If they stopped & thought about it logically for a moment they would see that we are not being labelled fairly or that it does not apply in that instance, they do not know (or care about?) our motives. When we label people with things we find distasteful about them, in that moment, we are harming them.