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Nov 11

A Hole in Your Self | Part 1 – Embracing a View of You in the Moment of the Now

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All people are prone and vulnerable to pain and suffering. Despite us all waving a hedonistic banner proclaiming that we seek pleasure and avoid pain, an inordinate number endure a fair amount of difficulty. Fun, pleasure and happiness do not appear to be free flowing in today’s world. Believe me when I say, I wish there was more.

Pain divides into that which is random and beyond control and that which is self- inflicted. The latter divides into overt (i.e., drug/alcohol abuse, gambling, etc.) and that which is covert (i.e., depression, panic attacks, etc.) The former are within one’s control, while the latter may be or not depending on specifics. The same is true for relationship problems which cause pain. Some may have been avoided, while others are beyond prediction or control.

Why, we can ask, is pain so much a part of our world? Why do so many suffer, especially those, who, in theory, could control their pain? What is in us that makes pain such a prevalent and pervasive phenomenon?

There’s A Hole In The Bucket

My somewhat simple minded explanation says that all people reach adulthood with a hole in their self. This is a result of the natural evolution of a person from infancy to adulthood. From that black hole comes a garden variety of compensations-some healthier than others, but all greatly exaggerated. Our hole tells us that we are inadequate and inferior and we are pushed to compensate in many ways.

The origin of our hole is obvious. We all start life in the “inadequate” position of infancy. No skills, just needs! Left to our own devices we wouldn’t survive a day. How “lesser than” can you be? We enter the world helplessly naked and exposed. All that we bring with us from the womb are instinctual or reflexive. We may be adorable, but our worth is low to none. As we grow older we add to our repertoire. Skills slowly develop. Understanding evolves and complex sequences of thought and behavior build one upon another. But we are still small among giants. They dictate our lives and we must follow their dictates. Go to sleep; do your homework; be quiet; listen to the teacher; don’t go, do, be, not

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be… ad insanitum. In the first fourteen years of life, we are reminded daily of our helplessness, dependency, conditional acceptance and general inadequacy and inferiority. And that is if we live in a reasonably “normal,” “healthy” and “functional” home.

What if our parents are a bit nuts, alcoholic, abusive, fearful, guiltifying, overprotective, sickly, abandoning, dying, psychotic, etc.? What if they fight, divorce, go broke, get arrested, are addicts? Then our sense of shameful inadequacy and inferiority gets magnified. We don’t feel OK at all. We feel very lesser than and woefully inadequate. We suffer these indignities silently and not so silently. Our hole grows wider and deeper with every abuse, abandonment and agitator. The neurotic exaggerations of our family become ours. Siblings add their unique complexities to our sense of self. At best, it is a murky stew of discontent and disillusionment.

Along Comes Adolescence

With all of that affecting us, we wander into teenagehood like cattle on route to the slaughterhouse. We take on all kinds of image based identities. We get lured into drugs and/or alcohol. We pick poor partners who add to our sense of being lesser than. We play at school instead of working, thereby getting bad grades and rebukes which only add to our low self-image. Or we excel at school to compensate, thereby sacrificing our social life. We are called geeks or nerds, which doesn’t exactly enhance our self-esteem either.

We feel all the pressures of peers and often don’t feel quite good, pretty, smart tall, strong… enough. Our sense of helpless dependence persists against all odds and oddballs. We fail or succeed, but feel like we failed too much of the time. Not to say that teens are bad, helpless or hopeless. Many work hard, show school leadership and try to cooperate with their families. It is a tough age where insecurities can be strong and where inadequacies can be painfully felt. Problem parents often translate into choosing problem relationships. Holes in our self affect our choices in all kinds of ways. A feeling of not being worthy, begets situations that can add to those very feelings over and over again.

Along Comes Adulthood

With gaping holes spewing emotional blood we enter adulthood. We join the service, continue school, dropout, get a job or become a bum. Let us leave the latter aside and deal with functioning people. There can be a yin and yang to those holes. Our inner feelings of inadequacy can push us to prove ourselves. They can be catalysts to achievement. They can fuel motivation. They can mobilize our productive, creative energies to succeed. Show me a super successful star in any venue and the likelihood is that they started adulthood with very large holes in their sense of self. Intriguingly, that is why so many can’t stop. Despite having more riches and material possessions than they need, they

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need to keep going to keep filling the hole. They are slaves to their work which is linked directly to their hole. Or these same superstars trip over their hole and embarrass themselves in all kinds of ways. That is the yang.

Holes in our sense of self produce serious inconsistencies. Not all hole fillers are as socially acceptable as work. Many of the yangs are very destructive and debilitating. This is what promotes the paradoxes that we observe on a regular basis. Successful and famous people can fall on their face big-time. Consider those who struggle with addictions or disorders, despite having made it large on the stage of life. Also think of the many and multiple busted relationships, infidelities and the like, not to mention those regular people who get caught with some part of them painfully exposed in a “wardrobe malfunction” of one kind or another. Important and not so important people are prone to put themselves in embarrassing and endangered space. Their apologies don’t quite cut it and their legal bills don’t quite free them from the consequences of their ill conceived actions. In fact, so many times people fall right into the hole, losing everything in an agonizing moment that expands the hole greatly.

Along Comes Glop

Glop is a word I invented to try to prevent the hole from pushing us into dangerous, vulnerable places. It is intended to describe anything that tempts us into hurtful and self-destructive behaviors. There is glop on a plate, in a glass, in a prescriptive pill bottle, in a casino, boardroom, bedroom, etc. Glop is everywhere and it is calling our name. Too often, the hole in our self lets glop in to fill those empty spaces-temporarily! The short-term benefits of glop are short- lived.

There are also glopful thoughts (i.e., I’m no good) and glopful feelings (i.e., anxiety, depression). These actually originate from the hole, exaggerate or otherwise distort reality and perpetuate self-negations and self-doubt. Observe how you automatically and reflexively respond to a mistake, miscue or faux pas. Hear the strong voice of damnation beat you up for a minor infraction. Observe the power of a panic attack, despite the ridiculousness upon which it is based. Clearly, the hole in your self and the feelings of inferiority that began in your youth have many ways to perpetuate those very feelings. In adulthood, your mental calculus is based on a variety of vicious cycles over which you struggle to take charge.

Glop rules because of the self-hating, self-hurting and destructive pain caused by the hole in your self. You seek to fill that hole with something-food, drink, drug, or other superficial behaviors. Or you fill it with chronic worry, low feelings or self- negating thoughts. Unfortunately, you are prone and programmed to fill your hole with the very poison that enlarges it. Glop doesn’t last, so people are compulsed to keep engaging in those hurtful behaviors. Is it any wonder two-thirds of America is overweight and one-third is obese? “Supersize Me”, is unfortunately

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alive and well on every highway and byway of America. Is it any wonder that drugs and alcohol play such a prominent role, especially among high-school and college students? Is it any wonder that sex and the internet have gotten married in such an illicit way? Glop me, Glop me, Glop me till I feel OK, adequate, whole, pain-free… filled with pain and shame, not so OK, totally inadequate feelings…. HELP!

Along Comes Life

We now have a basis for understanding why the stuff that happens to us in the present, can have such a double whammy effect. First is the here and now worry, wound, stress, etc. Second is that it takes us back to our hole of helplessness.

Here are some examples of current issues that reverberate through our emotional system:

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