In Part III of this 5-part series, we will cover what causes the fear of inadequacy, the main signs, and the solutions to getting out of the fear of inadequacy.
What causes the fear of inadequacy?
In those moments when we're stressed and afraid, what we're fearing is that we don't feel we have the skills, tools, or knowledge to do something. This fear originated in childhood when we were told directly or indirectly that we were somehow incapable of doing something. For many of us, we were left with the feeling that we might be stupid or not "enough."
Due to our parent's perfect imperfection, their lack of recognition when we were in our developmental stages is detrimental. I know for me, inadequacy was born with my father. I'll never forget, I was great in math, so my dad used to say, "You're going to be an engineer just like me!" But then, once I got into theory, algebra, and geometry, I just couldn't do it. I'll never forget the look on my dad's face while helping me with homework! I could see his disappointment in me when he looked at me and said, "don't you get it?" I felt so stupid, so inadequate, and I thought, "God, I'm letting my father down! I am just not good enough for him." But, you see, my father didn't directly say I was stupid; it was the look on his face—the incredulous tone he used to talk to me that sent that message. Therefore our current stress is pain from our past being brought forth and relived in the present moment. So, think through your own life; where were you sent those messages?
What is the most common way the fear of inadequacy is expressed?
Procrastination is the most common way the fear of inadequacy is expressed. We avoid a task because we ultimately don't want to experience that inadequate feeling again. Personally, I relive this experience when it comes to marketing my business. I don't enjoy the process, so I choose not to learn how to do it well. If we lack the knowledge, skills, and tools to do something, the chances are highly likely that we won't do it well.
How do we overcome the fear of inadequacy?
The first step is to identify the source. We accomplish that by making a list of all the feelings that arise whenever we consider learning something new. Then we trace the feelings back to our first experience. What you're going to find is that they go back to a childhood moment where a parent, a teacher, football coach, or someone you know said directly or indirectly, "you're stupid, you're wrong, or you're dumb." Or their expressions, their attitude, and nonverbal communication expressed that sentiment. With this new awareness, we can recognize that procrastinating to learn a new skill or do something new isn't that we are afraid of learning this new skill or new experience. It's that we don't want to relive the feeling of inadequacy. Therefore the solution is to heal the root experience causing the feeling.
The second step requires us to contemplate who's voice it is so we can give the shame they placed in us back to them! For me, when it comes up in my life, I picture myself right there doing homework. As children, we can't talk back to our parents, but I imagine myself at that moment looking up at my father, saying, "Dad, I love you, but you can't talk to me that way; it really hurts me. Can you give me the help that I need and talk to me in a way that's more kind and loving?" Then, the feeling - I give it back, I protect myself, and say, "No, dad, this doesn't work for me, this is yours." It is a reparenting of ourselves, and we regather our self-esteem, which we lost.
Finally, the third step to overcoming inadequacy fears is to become an expert. To learn about the topics you don't currently possess, the adequate knowledge, skills, and tools. Studies show that the act of learning is a great way to shift our subconscious, generate a new neural pathway and create a new empowering feeling experience.
Now you have a three-step process to conquer inadequacy. Next, I will be sharing the solutions to the fear of powerlessness. I hope you are enjoying the journey to stop your stress!
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