In the lead up to the United States of America’s Independence Day, I am reflecting on where this country once was and where it is now.  The journey so many have taken to come here, for opportunity, religious freedom, safety etc.  Seeing the Statue of Liberty and what they believed it represented.  Each time I see a sign, shirt or bumper sticker saying “Make America Great Again”  I find myself wondering how did we come to be so fearful.  

As Adler points out in his  theory of Individual Psychology,  “all psychological compensation states that the stronger the feeling of inferiority, the higher the goal for personal power. “  Our fear of not being enough, not having enough (in a land of plenty) not trusting, not feeling safe, whatever our fear, we seem to be operating from that very fear.  We can only find our courage if we face whatever fear has a hold on us and often it comes down to the one core fear of not being worthy.  When we act in ways that are degrading, damaging, destructive, towards our fellow man, woman and child we are feeding that very fear.   Courage means facing adversity.  Building trust and good will means taking the first steps towards one another not knowing the outcome. To know that we are enough and that we have enough, we must own our worth as equals, not more than and not less than. 

Having grown up as part of a group that is considered a minority in some parts of the world, I can identify with what it feels like to fear being less than and wanting to find reasons to be better than.  Yet the feeling of inadequacy can not be solved through any external measures. It is a realization and understanding that worth is owned rather than given and cannot be measured by visible “yardsticks”.  

Your shortcomings, your failures, your deficiencies whatever it is you are worried people will see are the very things that build your strength and courage.  Problems can be overcome when we stop looking for ways to overpower or out do one another.  Superiority only leads to divisiveness and moves us further apart and away from any real solutions.  Elevating ourselves only creates further mistrust in one another and will leave us with greater feelings of shame and inadequacy, a vicious cycle sapping our courage.  Let’s celebrate Independence Day, by celebrating our own liberation from fear of inadequacy and start with loving our imperfect selves.

Alfred Adler lived through one of history's most inhumane times, when fascism was on the rise and Hitler was leading his army to take over the world and at the same time rid the world of all who reminded him of how inadequate he himself felt.  There was furthermore a general feeling of failure and inadequacy amongst many Germans after their great loss in the first world war.  Carrying the message of a superior Aryan race was very seductive at first.  However, as time went on,  neighbor turned against neighbor, families were torn apart and destruction swept the land.   Adler believed that “there is a law that man should love his neighbor as himself. In a few hundred years it should be as natural to mankind as breathing or the upright gait; but if he does not learn it, he must perish.”  


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