Life is complicated. We constantly need to learn something new. Too much, though, is new. Always new. The new does not stop. Not only too much new, but also too deep new. And the addition of the new is not balanced by the disappearance of the old. Complexity continues to complexify. Who can know everything? Who can be skilled in a million ways? Who can keep up?

Not surprisingly, many of us feel our efforts often are inadequate in this or that area of life. Given this ongoing sense of inadequacy of effort in the face of incessant, multi-faceted, and continually morphing demands, it is not surprising that many of us come to believe our very selves are inadequate.

I wake up. My chest feels tight and empty while my belly feels so weighty, as if gravity’s pull increased overnight. Not much respite in the transition from sleep to wakefulness.

Each person has their individual way of feeling inadequate – those well-known sensations coalescing inside the body, the look of the world seen through inadequate eyes. Maybe these feelings would not matter if it were a matter of powering through the day with them as one would with a bit of a headache. But inadequacy seems to directly disable ‘the powering through’ function.

With inadequacy, my motivation shrivels, and I wish to just hide away. Or maybe run away.

What to do?

Here is what I do, or try to do, to phrase it more accurately. First, I acknowledge the feelings, the heaviness, the emptiness, the low motivation, the urge to hide myself from everyone, including myself. Second, I give the sense of inadequacy its due. “Ok. Ok” I say, “I get it. I feel you. We can tolerate each other, though we’ll never be friends.” Next, I just blunder forth, even if I feel I’m a lost cause, ready to trip over my own feet.

At this point, often the quote from the cover of a book I bought in college – and still have – comes to mind. It’s a selection of Samuel Beckett’s works of fiction and non-fiction titled “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” Over the years I must have said these words to myself hundreds of times. Usually with a little chuckle unless things are bad. Then no chuckle. Who would have thought? So much comfort, over so many hundreds of times. Thanks Sam. Another thing I tell myself is that it will all be alright, that the feeling will pass, and that, besides, won’t it be great to feel like shit and still get a lot done? It’s like getting unexpected free time or free work done, like coming up with a million-dollar idea while at the dentist’s waiting to get your teeth drilled.

All I need to do is to get started, to overcome the resistance, whether that resistance wears the guise of inadequacy, unworthiness, tiredness, unease, or pointlessness. I just … just need to start. Then the flow takes over, one thought written leads to another, one sentence spoken leads to another, one line of a form completed leads to another.

Another favorite line of mine, one I learned about 6 years ago from my daughter’s high school art teacher is ‘Your next work won’t be a masterpiece.’ Indeed not. And this day probably won’t be a masterpiece either. I don’t feel like going on – I’ll go on. And my feelings about myself? Who cares? I try not to.

Thanks and take care.

Dr. Jack

Language Brief

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” – Sylvia Plath

“Inner guidance is heard like soft music in the night by those who have learned to listen.” – Vernon Howard

“Sometimes I sound like gravel and sometimes I sound like coffee and cream.” – Nina Simone

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” – Anaïs Nin