Posts Tagged ‘Belonging’

We all have this distorted picture, in our society, where we grow up with this constant fear that we are not good enough, constantly being humiliated, constantly a threat of making mistakes being a failure. In our lifestyles we find an escape from the danger if I can’t please, I am not good enough, if I am the first one I am good enough, if I can make other people do what I want, if I can fight my way through, I am good enough. We find in the lifestyle this pessimism, this doubt, which we try to overcompensate on this vertical plane. So we try to be somebody by trying to be more. Once we free ourselves with the idea that we are good enough as we are, we don’t need this accomplishment to be somebody, then we are free from fear and we see all the energy come forward and we can devote ourselves to the task.

Rudolf Dreikurs

“People simply do not know the facts of life. Anyone who tries to find a place for himself will never find it, regardless how many degrees, regardless how much money, power, beauty, success, he may have amassed. Because unless he first realizes that he has a place by his very existence, if he doesn’t realize this, no attribute, no conquest, no skill, no achievement will give him the feeling of being good enough. Whatever he may achieve, it may not be good enough or enough of it, or whatever he may have gotten he may lose it.

It is this aspect of our society which makes us so neurotic, living in a neurotic society. As I pointed out in some papers, psychotherapy, counseling means fundamentally to extricate the child and the adult from the faulty values of our society, which we fortify in our colleges and our school more and more. This over-ambition which we instill in them which inevitably leads to a sense of failure. “If I can’t be the best, I am the worst.” And the schools contribute directly to the neurosis of our students. The harm which we are doing to our students is indescribable. It is hard to believe what goes on that people don’t see.

I remember one case of a 12 year old girl. The mother came and said, “She doesn’t apply herself. She doesn’t do well enough.” Actually, the child wasn’t too much interested in studying and she would barely do her homework. And I spoke with her. And I immediately realized what it was. The child was over-ambitious and so I asked her to tell me, “You don’t feel you are good enough for this school?” “No.” “Why are you not satisfied?” “I could be better.” “Well how good do you think you have to be to be good in your class?” And after a little prodding it came out, “I think perhaps the first or second in my class would be good enough.” And when I told it to her mother that she has to learn to be good enough as she is, she said, “The teacher who complains to me that my girl is not working up to her capacity is in the subject that my girl got an A-. Please, it was not good enough because you could have made an A+. The whole approach which we have in our classes stirring up this false ambition that if you can’t be the best academically, scholastically, athletically, then you have to switch to the useless side.

These mental tortures, and particularly at universities, are growing a generation of people who have to find their place. It is hard to believe what can go on without anybody crying out loud, “Let’s stop ruining our kids. Let’s stop giving them the feeling that they never can live up to what we the parents, the schools expect from them.” Dr. R. Dreikurs Social Interest in Children

“That’s another of Spencer’s unique and valuable assets: its people. We are good, solid, hardworking midwesterns. We are proud but humble. We don’t brag. We believe your worth is measured by the respect of your neighbors, and there is no place we’d rather be than with those neighbors right here in Spencer, Iowa. We are woven not just into this land, which our families have worked for generations, but to one another. And a bright shinning thread, popping up in a hundred places in that tapestry, is Dewey.

In our society, people believe you have to do something to be recognized, by which we mean something “in your face,” and preferably caught on camera. We expect a famous town to survive tsunami and a forest fire or produce a president or cover up some horrible crime. We expect a famous cat to save a child from a burning building, find his way home after being left behind on the other side of the country, or meow “The Star-Spangled Banner.” And that cat better be not just heroic and talented, but media savvy, attractive, and have a good press agent, too, or he’s never going to make it onto the Today Show.

Dewey wasn’t like that. He didn’t perform spectacular feats. There was nobody pushing him to success. We didn’t want him to be anything more than the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa. And that’s all he wanted, too. He ran away only once, and he went only two blocks, and even that was too far.

Dewey wasn’t special because he did something extraordinary but because he was extraordinary. He was like one of those seemingly ordinary people who, once you get to know them, stand out from the crowd. They are the ones who never miss a day of work, who never complain, who never ask for more than their share. They are those rare librarians, car salesmen, and waitresses who provide excellent service on principle, who go beyond the job because they have a passion for the job. They know what they are meant to do in life, and they do it exceptionally well. Some win awards; some make a lot of money; most are taken for granted. The store clerks. The bank tellers. The auto mechanics. The mothers. The world tends to recognize the unique and the loud, the rich and the self-serving, not those who do ordinary things extraordinarily well. Dewey came from humble beginnings (an Iowa alley); he survived tragedy (a freezing drop box); he found his place (a small-town library). Maybe that’s the answer. He found his place. His passion, his purpose, was to make that place, no matter how small and out of the way it may have seemed, a better place for everyone.

… Dewey didn’t do one heroic thing; he did something heroic every day. He spent his time changing lives right here in Spencer, Iowa, one lap at a time” (pp.207-208).

From Dewey by Vicki Myron

“As children we learned that we are not “good enough” as we were. Only if we earned better grades, learned more, did better, gained special skills and abilities—only than could we hope to “amount to anything,” to “be worthwhile.” Our traditional educational pattern stresses a negative value: hardly anyone is good enough as he is. We perpetuate this pernicious practice under the fallacious assumption with oneself. Admittedly, in some few cases the drive for self-evaluation may stimulate progress. But in all cases this negative urge is unnecessary, and in many cases it is highly detrimental.” P. 9 Social Equality, Rudolf Dreikurs.

When we fail to recognize we belong we begin to compensate for our feelings of inadequacy, which results in a futile battle. The more we attempt to be “better” the more we maintain and acknowledge we do not count.

We compensate these feeling of inadequacy by seeking external validation from others. The desire is to stand out, to be different, to be recognized. This is a game without an end. We fear being ordinary, to be like everyone else. We fear being human.

Some common ways we seek external validation are:

Validation through performance based esteem. Your worth is based on your job, income, degree, or how well you do in school, sports, etc. The tendency is to be over accomplished and be the best at whatever you do—less than perfect is nothing. You hold the highest degree or out do all those around you at work. “Performance based esteem augments and insufficient, internal sense of worth by the measuring of one’s accomplishments against those of others and coming out on top.” T. Real

Validation through sexual promiscuity. Your worth is based on the men or women who are interested and willing to have sex with you. We collect encounters to feel desirable and “loved” even if its sex without love.

Validation through physical attractiveness. Our bodies become the main focus in our lives over exercising and under eating. Men chisel their bodies to have the six-pack stomach and women want to appear as the latest celebrity.

Validation by what we own or whom we know. Our house is featured in Homes and Garden and our guests are the most important people in town. This could be viewed as worth by association. If I am seen with some who is “important” than I must be an exceptional person.

There can be others like the parents who validate their worth by how well their children do in school, scores on achievement tests, or the university they attend.

Our way out of this dilemma is to recognize our belonging. We count by the mere fact we exist. You do not have to find your place or even make a place because you already have a place. It is recognizing you purpose no matter how small or out of the way it seems, and than making the most out of what you have. Its being ordinary, a human being, who does not have to earn a place, its your birthright. Authenticity is about accepting your self, as you are, no more and no less, letting go of being “the best” “the most outstanding” or “fabulous” and being yourself. A fallible, capable, creative, and loveable human being.

“Anyone who is sure of himself and satisfied with his abilities can do better than someone who must constantly struggle to prove his worth…It is the feelings of adequacy, rather than of inadequacy that leads to successful endeavor.” R. Dreikurs