In the arenas of developmental psychology, spiritual psychology and related fields, there’s a given understanding that most of us, simply by nature of being born and raised in this world are “hurt” or “wounded” in the process. Even though our parents or primary caregivers are doing their utmost best to raise us well, nurture us and socialize us, the fact is that most primary care givers’s care comes up short – even in those homes where folks say their childhood was “the best.” or completely stable. “Wounding” is a fact of life of the human condition for most of us. This wounding can be mental, emotional, physical, psychological and/or spiritual.
One reason we come into this journey on the planet, and especially in our journeys in various relationships, is to “heal” this hurt so we can grow emotionally and spiritually into mature and competent adults and, as mature adults, show up in our life at work, at home, at play and in relationship – authentically and emotionally healthy, alert, alive and awake – whole.
One manifestation of this hurt or wounding is that, if asked and answered honestly, most every human being will admit to feeling some degree of “deficiency,” or “lack” in some way, shape or form, at some point, at some time.
Individuals who have done or are doing “personal work” or “spiritual developmental work” will most readily admit to experiencing this experience of deficiency. Those who are on the other end of the spectrum may engage in denial, resistance, or just out-and-out- rejection of the notion they are somehow not “all that I can be” right here and right now.
One of the feelings associated with this “hurt” is that often folks may feel “empty,” “worthless” or “valueless” in some way – perhaps in some aspect of their work life, play life, home life or relationship life. They don’t feel they are all they can be and often experience confusion, frustration, fear, resentment, guilt or shame about who they are and how they feel about themselves.
This experience of feeling “less than,” or “not enough” in some way, or ways, is often referred to as a “hole” (being “empty”), and so when in a state where they may be experiencing their hole, people might feel a wave or cloud coming over them where they feel they lack value, or worth, or feel they are “not enough” or feel “limited.” The “hole” is a natural state that comes with being born. Often folks fail to show up authentically as they consciously or unconsciously allow their feelings of “deficiencies” to drive who they are and thus they show up as phonies, frauds, fakes, bullies, or fearful, quiet, submissive, deferential, etc. on some level.
So, what’s the point?
The point is that the hole of deficiency can be filled. The question is how one chooses to fill the hole. The degree to which one experiences true and real inner peace, happiness, harmony and relaxation in their life (at work, at home, at play and in relationship) is a function of how one chooses to fill their hole.
There are two methods for hole filling” – from “without” or from ‘within.” The former results in digging a deeper hole; the latter results in reducing the size of the hole, perhaps eliminating it altogether.
When folks attempt to fill their hole – their feelings of deficiency and “not enough” – from “without,” they tend to look outside themselves for whatever they can to provide a “quick-fix” that will bring a short-term feeling of OK-ness. Some of these folks will effort to inflate who they are in order to fill their hole of emptiness while others deal with the emptiness most often by filling it with stuff, stuff and more stuff.
Because of the nature of the hole, many folks who don’t feel safe or comfortable in their own skins, in who they are, and continually live life seeking recognition, approval, and emotional and psychological security through self-serving actions and activities.
The downside of filling the hole from “without” is the hole can never be filled but the intensity and degree of the activities they engage in to fill their hole become more and more progressive (like needing more and more of a drug to gain the same “numbing” effect). Living a life filling a hole from the “outside” results in a life characterized by an insidious sense of toxicity, intensity, agitation, and feelings of envy, jealousy, anger, shame, guilt, sadness, depression, despair, etc. to some degree. Hole-filling for them is a never-ending struggle, exhausting on every level – mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, social – as their hole grows deeper and deeper.
The narcissist is one example of an individual who tends to fill their hole from the outside – with their incessant need for admiration, approval, acknowledgement and recognition.
The narcissist lives from a perspective of needing to always “stand out,” to be seen and be “somebody.” So, in their life at work, at home, at play and in relationship, filling their hole of deficiency drives them to be the center of the Universe, living a life characterized by vanity, arrogance, lack of humility and egocentricity. The result, however, is digging one’s self into an ever deepening hole that requires more and more filling.
The tools and practices for filling the hole from without are those that anaesthetize one to their feelings – numbing out, denying and withdrawing – through TV, entertainment, sports, sex, alcohol, chemical and non-chemical medications, exercise, shopping, eating, and gathering stuff, or activities that require always being on – the life of the party, the know-it-all, the expert, always being “out there” in an effort to be seen, heard and acknowledged and “doing, doing, doing,” i.e., keeping busy.
Filling the hole from within means pursuing a conscious and honest exploration of one’s sense of deficiency, knowing that their feelings of lack and deficiency are not “their fault” and moving to an inner place of peace, understanding, strength, will, courage and compassion from which one takes the necessary actions to allow their hole, to be OK with it and in that very process – i.e., allowing me to be me just as I am – experience the hole reduce and resolve. From this inner place, one acquires the insights, and awareness of the tools and practices that support one to understand the nature of “holes” and to forward the action of their life to begin to reduce and eliminate the hole by doing the “quiet,” deep developmental work that supports their growth process (through their own spiritual work, spiritual coaching, or the support of a trusted friend, partner, clergy person, counselor, etc). As part of this process, these folks are guided, internally and insightfully, to master the knowledge, tools and skills that support their self-actualization in their life at work, at home, at play and in relationship, a life they live with authenticity, sincerity, honesty and self-responsibility. From this place of acceptance of the hole, understanding how the hole supports us to grow and mature, the hole begins to fill itself. Here, we come from a heart-felt place, not an ego place. The work of filing the hole from within is quiet, deep, personal, inward directed and outwardly manifested.
The tools and practices used to fill the hole from “within” include journaling, self-reflection, meditation, silence, inquiry or deep questioning about “Who am I” and “What am I?,” listening for an inner voice to inform us and often working in dialogue with a support person who can guide them in their journey. From within, the more one’s hole is reduced, the more one’s heart-felt inner strength and courage arise to allow one to “be myself” – without needing any false or phony packaging or shoring up.
In the process of filling the hole from within, many folks are able to acknowledge their feelings of inadequacy and deficiency, accept them, learn from them and then move to a place of inner fortitude and steadfastness where they gain an inner, deeper, true sense of their value and worth and generate he capacity to show up more authentically – not needing to put on the cloak of a “false self” in order to be “somebody” other than who they really are.
What we resist, persists. When we resist the hole and look to fill it from the outside, the hole will persist, and grow deeper. When we do deeper the inner work to not resist, and allow the feelings connected to experiencing the hole, the hole will begin to dissipate and dissolve,
The bottom-line question is, “How do I want to show up in my life at work, at home, at play and in relationship?”
The answer will result in reducing and eliminating the hole, or digging a deeper hole. Life is choices.
Some questions for self-reflection:
- In what ways do I often feel I am “not enough,” deficient or lacking? Why do I think I feel the way I do? How do I feel about feeling the way I do?
- Do I engage in “outside” activities to an extreme to feel secure, engaged and have some sense of OK-ness with my life? If so, what does all this activity get me?
- Do I feel and show up authentically at work, at home, at play, in my relationships? Really authentic? Do I ever feel like a fake or a phony? Do I ever consciously need to be a fake or phony? How so?
- Do I often find myself rationalizing my behaviors?
- Do I often feel a need to be “out there” – the life of the party, the “know-it-al,” the expert, etc?
- Do I play “small,” feel unseen and invisible much of the time? If so, do I know why?
- Do I have a “spiritual” (here, not theological, or religious) life? Do I meditate, write poetry, walk in nature, sing, dance, paint, journal, self-reflect…as a source of quiet, silence, inner journeying and personal discovery?
- Who in my life pushes my buttons? What do I see about my reactivity (not about them) that points to an area or areas in me where I might be in denial or have possible blind spots where I need to do some deeper exploration?
- What one or two baby steps can I take in the next week or two to move toward exploring my feelings around lack or deficiency?
- When did I first realize that I had “holes?”
(c) 2019, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.
What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”
I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.
I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com
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