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Feeling like a loser doesn't mean you are one

Having true perspective means accepting feeling bad about ourselves

As individual humans it’s often hard to get out of our own way. Our emotions and experiences color our view of the world, including our place in it.

We have a certain view of our lives and events around us and unfortunately that perspective is not as objective as we think it is.

We think we are making judgements based strictly on the “facts” but often that judgement is being unconsciously driven to a certain end and is not as neutral as we claim.

We are always rational, but a lot of the time our rationality is used to build a logical argument justifying a pre-existing decision we are driven to by our emotions rather than being used to analyze the full range of facts available to us so that we can make a decision that truly takes all of them into account.

For certain decisions where our emotions are not involved, we do actually follow this objective process. We we look at the available facts, make an unbiased assessment as to which of those facts are true, and make a conclusion based on those true facts.

We know that we may not know all the facts, but we are still objective and because we are not emotionally tied to one particular decision over another we are open to new facts that may change our conclusion.

However, for decisions that are really important to us, that generate a lot of emotion, we assume we follow this very reasonable path but in fact we do the reverse.

Driven by emotion, we downshift into our animal fight or flight brain. The decision comes first and becomes the lens by which we judge facts to be true. Facts which validate our emotions, we believe to be true. Those which don’t we believe to be false.

We are further fooled because we are still being rational, it’s just that our rationality is no longer in service of the goal of finding the objective truth of a situation.

Instead our unconscious goal is to make ourselves feel more secure by validating the emotions. If we are afraid, we get locked into a search for danger. We use our rationality to build an argument that our fear is justified, that there is a real danger out there. Nothing can convince us that there isn’t and any facts that seem to say that everything is okay, we dismiss as being wrong.

The result is that we hold tightly to arbitrary beliefs and decisions that are driven by emotions, thinking that since we have facts to support these decisions and beliefs, we arrived at these decisions and beliefs as a result of an objective analysis.

A good example of where this holds true is marketing. The whole purpose of marketing is to to move us out of an intellectual objective view by activating our emotions so that we emotionally attach ourselves to the product at hand.

Once that has taken place, it almost doesn’t matter what the facts of the matter are because we will simply choose to believe anything that validates our emotions and dismiss anything which does not. We build a case for a purchase rather than objectively determine whether that purchase is worth it.

This process not only serves to alienate us from other people it also leads us to beat ourselves up for mistakes. It takes us down the rabbit hole of feeling we are worthless because we have all these “facts” to prove how much of a screw up we are.

But those facts are not the full story, they are the version we have cherry picked to construct a story that validates our feelings of worthlessness.

This is the way humans are built, feelings and emotions are a reptilian survival mechanism that we cannot control

What we can control is how we react to our feelings. We cannot not feel, we can’t avoid being afraid of what we are afraid of. We can’t avoid feeling insecure about what we feel insecure about. But we can modulate our response to that fear and insecurity.

The pathway out of this lies in the realization that we don’t have to be driven by our feelings. We don’t have to “deal” with them.

It seems reasonable to say that if we feel bad we should try to figure out what to do in order to not feel bad anymore but if we poke at that, we see that the arbitrary assumption at the root of that is that there is something wrong about feeling bad.

Feeling bad is feeling bad. Nothing more, nothing less. Our feelings are real and we need to feel them but then just stop there.

We need to stop searching for justification of why we should feel one way or another and instead just accept our feelings. Respect them for what they are without needing to “prove” to ourselves that we are justified in feeling that way.

It is a difficult thing to sit still with the discomfort of feeling bad about ourselves. But in that stillness is bravery and the secret to success.

Accept your fear and do it anyway. Accept your feeling that you are a screw up and keep trying anyway. Feel your feeling fully in your heart and then keep moving.