Our self-belief creates problems

I recently sent out this tweet:

It’s amazing how many of our problems stem from an underlying belief that we are somehow unworthy, inadequate, or not enough.

I thought that for today, I’d elaborate on this idea. I will share three examples of problems I experienced this week and how they relate to this idea.

Earlier this week, I was having a conversation with someone. I was providing my perspective on something, but the way they responded, it was like they weren’t hearing what I was saying.

I felt unheard and disrespected.

But the underlying problem wasn’t that I felt unheard. Nor was it that I felt disrespected.

The problem was that I felt that I wasn’t worthy of their attention or respect. I thought that I wasn’t intelligent enough to contribute helpful ideas.

To explain this another way, suppose there’s something you’re absolutely solid on. Something you know is absolutely true. For example, you exist. Imagine someone calmly walked up to you and politely said, “I don’t think you exist,” before walking away. It wouldn’t be a problem because you know you exist.

It’s the same thing in my situation, only that I think it’s a problem because I’m not solid on the underlying belief.

Another experience I’ve had on and off for a while is feeling bored while playing volleyball.

Boredom is an uncomfortable feeling.

But feelings aren’t problems. (Even though I often think they are. 🤣)

Here, there are a few things I was struggling with:

  • The fear that I wouldn’t be worthy of being invited to play with others.
  • The thought that I wasn’t able to improve without feeling engaged in the sport.
  • The loss of my identity as a volleyball player and the belief that I’m less of a person if I lose that part of myself.

And one final example from last week: I got a new laptop at work.

I thought setting it up would be straightforward: install a few programs, run a few commands, reconnect a few things.

But as reality would have it, things went wrong. I had to read and decipher error logs. I had to try things, and those attempts would fail. So I’d try something else.

Eventually, I was able to finish setting up my laptop. But it took way more time and effort than I expected.

It felt wasteful. Inefficient.

But let’s try another thought experiment.

Suppose you’re relaxed and on vacation somewhere. You don’t have a backlog of things you want to do. It feels like you have all the time in the world.

You’re sitting on a towel on the beach and want to read a book. As you’re reading, someone yells in the distance. You look up and see somebody having fun surfing a giant wave. You return to your book. Eventually, you end up taking a break to go to the washroom. And later, you pass out while reading.

So it wasn’t the most efficient you’ve been at reading. But it wasn’t a problem. Inefficiency itself isn’t a problem.

For me, I knew I had a list of things I wanted to get done this week. Because setting up my laptop took longer than expected, I had less time and energy to finish the rest of my list.

The problem was that I didn’t think I was capable of completing everything on my list. I didn’t think I was good enough to get it all done.

I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but this is where my mind has taken me this week.

I have a feeling that I’m going to need regular reminders of this. The initial problems usually feel so real that I may not think to look at my beliefs about myself.

What problems have you experienced recently? What beliefs do you have about yourself that are creating those problems?

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