Today I’m going to talk about how to handle the negative emotions around not feeling good enough in some way, and subsequent behaviors that stem from this core belief. Feeling not good enough is part of being human; everyone has this belief to some degree. Also, we tend to see negative emotions in a bad light because they make us feel uncomfortable, but these emotions can serve as signs that we are holding a belief that we aren’t good enough in some way, and taking a moment to pause and look at that belief is the first step toward healing. So, the negative emotion is actually a gift. I’m at a point in my life where I’m able to realize that when I get triggered, it’s more about me than the other person.
If you think about it, if you had a sense of being just fine as you are, the opinion of others would not matter. They would just pass right on by you and not cause a trigger within you. Needing to be right all the time would not be such an important thing to accomplish. The core belief of not enough may even make you violent and allow the outside world to have more power over you than it needs to have. If you think you’re not good enough, you are compelled to get, have, look like a certain version of happiness or success or beauty. We need these external things because internally there’s a sense of not good enough and that can translate into an aggressive desire to go after something in order to feel okay about yourself.
Also, if you perceive yourself as not good enough, as soon as someone makes a comment about you that is less than positive, especially if they are negating something you worked very hard on, it will feel like an attack because you’re already shaky on the inside. The other person may just be expressing a neutral opinion, but if you have the core belief you’re not good enough, it will hit you in a way that is irrational and you can feel attacked a lot of the time. Sometimes the other person wants to insult you, but the truth is that their insult is coming from their internal belief that they are not enough, so they may feel threatened by you and feel the need to cut you down. This back and forth attack happens all the time in our world today because everyone comes at everyone from this place of lack.
How to Give a True Compliment
Since everyone has some amount of this not good enough feeling, it’s challenging for one person to acknowledge another on the ground of equality and beauty (I use beauty in terms of the creation that we are). We often don’t acknowledge and appreciate the beauty in another — whether it’s actual beauty or what they’ve accomplished or the kind of person they are — without feeling personally wounded because the not good enough core belief is always comparing ourselves to the other.
By the same token, it can be challenging to allow people to learn and grow — there may be a perception that they might become better than you. Anyone who accomplishes something you wish you had accomplished because it would give you a sense of being good enough, you may have a need to destroy that, to put it down, to judge it, to criticize it. Because that’s perhaps the only way you know how to appease your jealousy and feel good enough about yourself. So if you are on the receiving end of this judgment, remember that the other person is coming from that place of not enough, that wounded place.
With the awareness that both your triggers as well as the judgmental words from others stem from the core belief of not enough, you now have a choice. You can react to that trigger or you can pause and create distance between you and the reactivity, and actually listen to what they are saying. Perhaps they are speaking from their wounding and their statements aren’t true, or perhaps it is good feedback you can learn and grow from. Either way, you’re able to handle the conversation with more grace.
When to Say “I’m Sorry”
For most people, it is very challenging to accept they’ve been wrong. After 20 minutes of you being very sure of yourself in an argument, the other person may suddenly say one thing that collapses all your arguments and stops you in your tracks. What do you do in that moment? Can you humbly surrender and say, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry. You’re absolutely correct.” And then it’s over and you’ve learned something? For most people, it’s very difficult to do this in the moment, or even days, months, or sometimes years later. It is so challenging to surrender to the fact you were wrong because somehow we identify with the statements that come out of our mouths — they become who we are.
A good way to deal with rejection is to remember that what you say is not who you are, and what others say is not who they are. Words are fluid and always changing based on what your mind is making sense of around you and within you. Your words may be influenced by something from your past, or something you recently read or thought about, but they are always changing, because we are constantly evolving. They may feel true today but not tomorrow. Therefore, our words (as well as other people’s words) are not who we are.
So, remember, since we are not our words, you do not have to hate a person just because you disagreed with something they said (or hate yourself for something you said). You also don’t have to judge yourself if others don’t see things they way you do.
How does this help dissolve an argument? When you realize you aren’t your words, you can more easily admit you were wrong since you never identified with being that statement to begin with; it was just a statement and therefore you can let go of that. And, you can receive the other person’s statement with a more “observer” kind of attitude rather than identifying with it, or taking it personally. This way, you can actually learn and grow from what they are saying since you’re not on the defensive.
Another way to end an argument is to consider the different perspectives of the two parties speaking. I’ve had many disagreements where people have said to me, “I don’t agree with what you’re saying,” or, “I think you’re ridiculous and what you’re saying is stupid.” In the past I would get triggered, but now, I can look at their statement and I can put myself in their shoes. Something that makes sense to me given my life experiences may not make sense to someone else who has a different perspective, a different life journey. With this understanding, I’m no longer triggered and I can let it go.
How to Handle Negative Emotions
The same way you can look for what you can learn from another person’s statement toward you, you can also get curious about your own negative emotions being triggered. You can look at your emotional reaction and ask yourself what you can learn from them. What are all these emotions about? Why are they so intense? What can I learn from them?
Someone once told me that these negative emotions are “life trying to get more intimate with you.” Life is trying to show an area of yourself that is weak in you. We may think that it is the other person creating this uncomfortable experience, but really, it exists because there are wounds within you that you haven’t addressed yourself. The emotions are not comfortable, they don’t feel good, so oftentimes we push them aside and ignore them rather than pause and take a closer look.
And, if we don’t take moments of self-reflection after an argument, if we don’t take responsibility and learn something, we will continue to recreate these types of events that will trigger these same negative emotions over and over again. And, like a broken record, this will lead to the same triggered responses: react, attack, put the other person down, avoid the other person. After years of this repeated experience, you will have isolated yourself from so many people around you that you’ll end up feeling lonely rather than connected.
How Do I Get Out of This Loop?
First, realize that when you go into the triggered response, what you’re really doing is attacking yourself, putting yourself down, avoiding yourself, because you are not deeming yourself lovable enough to look within, take responsibility, and heal the wound that is perpetuating the event.
Many of us haven’t cared enough about ourselves to look into these dark areas. Since these experiences are uncomfortable, we often don’t take a moment to reflect on a prior argument and ask ourselves, “What was that all about? Why did I get so angry?”
We take these reflective pauses with our children. We see that if their behavior was less than loving or intelligent or constructive, we guide them to another behavior, but we don’t judge them for it because we know that the child is not their behavior. We teach them the beauty they are has nothing to do with the behavior — and we can do the same with ourselves.
We can see this very clearly with our children because we love them so profoundly, but somehow we have lost that love for ourselves. But, we are these amazing beings. Just look at the magical intelligence of our bodies — what our cells are doing every day — day in and day out. The cooperation and the caring that goes into keeping us healthy is unbelievable. I suggest people study the magnificence of the body so they can see how worthy they are of caring and loving themselves as profoundly as they can.
Start by recognizing that our negative emotions are gifts since they are opportunities to learn. There’s always a more loving, open, spacious way to deal with every moment of our lives and so rejection and the subsequent negative emotions serve as this opportunity.
When you’re triggered, allow yourself to take a deep breath, pause, and remember you are not these statements or judgments from yourself or others. These moments are just revealing wounds within you that you now can look at and address. Areas of yourself that were there to offer a sense of safety that wasn’t real, and you were just hiding behind these negative emotions as a defense mechanism. But, they’re just thoughts, they’re just statements, they are not who you are because you can change them. And judgments from others are just more words.
Words that come at you can simply move gently around you and not penetrate. Allow the words to move past you or in front of you, like a flowing Tai Chi movement. Don’t take the judgements personally because they aren’t who you actually are. Either gather whatever wisdom they may provide, or just let them pass right along.
With this practice, you will start to appreciate your negative emotions. With great gratitude, with a great understanding, you will become aware that the trigger is yet another opportunity life is bringing to you, reflecting back at you. And in that moment, you can choose to learn, you can find solution in it. And, when you think about it, isn’t it wonderful that in that moment you can uncover a non-truth you were holding on to? And, of course, another opportunity to learn is around the corner! There will always be another enemy, another person who disagrees, another person who will hold up a mirror to reveal my insecurities to myself; in order for me to heal, let them go and find a more spacious, joyous way of living my life.
I hope that was helpful. Thank you.