The defect of insecurity and ego of inferiority – how they obstruct spiritual practice and what we can do to overcome them
Insecurity and inferiority are quite common. They usually go hand in hand, keep one at an emotional level and blocking one from thinking at a spiritual level. They can also be a cause for the development or increase of many other defects or types of ego and cause various problems in individual spiritual practice (vyashti sadhana) and spiritual practice for the benefit of society (samashti sadhana).
1. Two types of insecurity and inferiority
1. Visible – In some seekers, insecurity is quite visible. They act withdrawn, speak with hesitation or speak quietly. They avoid difficult situations or go into visible emotional and fearful states even when minor obstacles arise. Their body posture can also show insecurity; for example, their body may appear stiff, with the shoulders pulled up, the head tilted forward while speaking, being unable to look at someone directly in the eyes, etc.
In such cases it is easier to become aware of these defects, as the seeker is more aware of them, and other seekers are also able to perceive them and point them out more easily.
2. Hidden – In some seekers, insecurity and inferiority are hidden, as they are masked by pride, superiority, showing off or similar ego manifestations. These seekers are often unaware of their feeling of inferiority as they are not willing to face it. They are avoiding it due to ego, and due to not wanting to feel or be perceived as weak or incapable, but it does not mean that insecurity is not there.
These seekers can also have judgement, be irritated by or look down on other seekers who are openly acting insecure and inferior, as it subconsciously reminds them of their own feeling of inferiority. In this case, it is more difficult to overcome insecurity and inferiority. However, if the seeker is able to honestly introspect, to face and study their defect of insecurity, and share with other seekers about it, it is possible for these defects to become more visible, and then to reduce them.
2. Which defects or types of ego are related to insecurity and inferiority ?
a. Pride – Constant efforts are made to overcome the feeling of low self-worth and to prove to oneself or others that ‘I am capable’, ‘I have done something well’, or ‘I am worthy’.
b. Egocentrism – There is a feeling that ‘others are better than me so I need to worry about myself and take care of myself, as otherwise I will be left behind’.
c. Attention seeking and seeking praise – The seeker is constantly looking for confirmation that ‘I am doing well’ or that ‘I am good’. But there is no end to this, because the moment something does not go well, insecurity or inferiority comes back, and then the desire to get more confirmation and praise returns.
d. Negative thinking – As the seeker keeps thinking ‘I am not a good seeker’, ‘I cannot progress spiritually’, or similar, efforts in spiritual practice reduce.
e. Laziness – If the seeker feels that ‘no matter what I do, I cannot succeed’, it can develop laziness. This can also lead to dejection and eventually depression.
f. Envy – The seeker starts feeling envy towards those who are doing better, progressing faster, who the seeker thinks may grow faster than him or who has some qualities that are more developed than in him.
g. Being reserved and closed – The seeker stays away from others and then loses a chance to develop love for others and feel that ‘the whole universe is my family’.
h. Fear – There is lack of faith, the seeker stays in a fearful and unhappy state and avoids even minor situations that he perceives as difficult or stressful.
i. Ambitiousness – It can rise to make up for the feeling of low self-worth by accomplishing good results.
j. Superiority – It is a way to hide the feeling of inferiority. The seeker’s state of mind can also fluctuate often between inferiority (compared to seekers he sees as superior to him) and superiority (compared to seekers he sees as inferior to him) – for more details, please see the section below ‘inferiority manifesting as superiority’.
3. Insecurity impacts individual spiritual practice and can be capitalised on by negative energies
Inferiority and insecurity keep the mind weak. Seekers with insecurity and inferiority can be quite sensitive to receiving feedback or to having their mistakes pointed out. They easily go into negative states that ‘I am not a good seeker’, ‘No matter what I do, I cannot progress’, etc. They are less capable of accepting feedback with a learning attitude, learning from mistakes and moving on in spiritual practice. Due to this, their pace of their Personality Defect Removal and ego removal slows down.
Negative energies use the inferiority of a seeker easily to keep him in a negative state and to make him reduce or even stop efforts in chanting and healing and in all aspects of individual spiritual practice in general. Due to this, the energy of the seeker is wasted, his efforts in spiritual practice are below his capacity and his progress is slowed down or reduced.
4. Insecurity impacts spiritual practice for the benefit of society and the spread of Spirituality
a. Because there is hesitation to face challenges, the seeker can miss chances to take more responsibility in service to God (satseva), a step of spiritual practice. He can also hesitate to learn new satsevas of the next stage.
b. The seeker may procrastinate satsevas that seem difficult due to thinking that ‘I am not able to do these satsevas’, ‘I don’t have the capacity or ability’, ‘How will I do this?’, or ‘I will surely fail’.
c. The seeker can also hesitate to try to solve or report difficult situations or to point out mistakes of other seekers that have an impact on others or the spread of Spirituality.
d. He can sometimes follow what other seekers are doing or saying even if it seems incorrect and this can have an adverse impact on others or on the spread of Spirituality. He hesitates to report such instances or to ask for guidance about them.
e. Insecurity reduces our fighting spirit, it reduces our ability to face spiritual distress or to face opposition to spreading spirituality.
All of this negatively impacts others and the spread of Spirituality to a great extent, and reduces the output of satsevas.
5. The illusion of insecurity and inferiority
Actually, both insecurity and inferiority are an illusion.
We feel insecure, but God takes care of us at every moment, so we are always secure. It is just that the mind is unaware of God’s presence and His continuous support and feels threatened and unsafe.
We feel inferior, but in reality, there is the same soul within all of us, so what is the point in feeling inferior ? Although the Jiva (embodied soul) is very small and insignificant, the Soul within is part of God. It is priceless, in the state of Sat, Chit and Anand (Absolute Truth, Absolute Consciousness and Absolute Bliss), and this is our true value. It is only because we associate with our mind, intellect and ego, that the illusion of inferiority arises.
We feel that we are unable to do something, but it is due to the illusion that we think that everything depends on us. In reality, nothing depends on us, as everything in the universe happens as per God’s wish, so anything can be accomplished with God’s or Guru’s grace.
6. Inferiority manifesting as superiority
In some cases, a seeker may have thoughts of superiority as a defence mechanism to cover for a strong feeling of inferiority.
Whenever such a seeker notices that another person or another seeker is better than him in some way, he feels endangered or insecure. There is a fear that he will lose whatever positive perception he or others have about himself and that he may crumble or lose his own sense of identity.
As a result of this urge to protect himself, the seeker then starts judging, finding faults or having negative and incorrect conclusions about those who are better than him. This act of putting others down comes from a subconscious effort to keep his image of himself positive, because it is easier to think of others negatively than to think of, struggle with or try to overcome one’s own shortcomings.
Also, the seeker makes efforts to find other things where he may be better than that other seeker who he feels is superior to him, so he can still preserve the self-perception that he is still good enough, or that he is ‘not that bad’.
Instead of writing mistakes in the form of superiority and working on superiority, such seekers should instead write mistakes with inferiority as the root defect and take Autosuggestions for reducing inferiority and insecurity. Insecurity leads to comparison, envy, rigidity (insistence from self-transforming to insistence from others) and suspiciousness.
If in addition to inferiority manifesting as superiority, the seeker also has high distress due to negative energies, the seeker can fluctuate often between the states of inferiority and superiority, sometimes even a few times in the same day, as distress keeps increasing the feelings of inferiority or superiority to extreme levels.
So, in addition to taking Autosuggestions, measures can also be taken at spiritual level, such as increasing efforts to awaken spiritual emotion (bhāv) and increasing the amount of time spent chanting.
One important point is that if the seeker notices manifestations of superiority, he should not assume that there is always inferiority or insecurity behind it. Superiority is actually the root cause in some seekers, so they should work on reducing the ego of superiority. Seekers should also not confuse insecurity and inferiority.
If a seeker is unsure whether they should work on superiority, inferiority or insecurity, he should ask his guiding seeker. Given ahead is the difference between inferiority and insecurity.
7. The difference between insecurity and inferiority
Inferiority : In inferiority the predominant thought, emotion or action is related to feeling that ‘I am less than others’ (worthy, capable, beautiful, strong, intelligent, spiritual, etc). It is seen when one starts degrading oneself or comparing with others and feeling inferior. When someone points out one’s mistakes, he may feel inferior or he may feel inferior when he sets a goal and then fails to achieve it. Such seekers may use inferiority as an excuse to gain sympathy and portray inferiority to get support. Its impact is that one is not realistic about his efforts and his ability, so he does not make enough effort to achieve what he has the capacity to achieve. Thus, the inner change does not happen, and inculcation of virtues does not happen.
Insecurity : In insecurity the predominant thought, emotion or action is that I need support and I cannot face situations or people alone. It is seen in the form that if we do not get support, we become insecure and it creates anxiety, worries and fears. It is related to expectations. If things do not happen as one expects then he feels insecure. Its impact is that the seeker cannot mix with others, has lots of unnecessary thoughts, difficulty to learn and lack of openness and communication.
8. Solutions for eradicating insecurity and inferiority
8.1 Autosuggestions which can be taken
a. Progress Autosuggestions – These help with noticing how we are changing and growing. they are very important for seekers with insecurity. The seeker sometimes avoids taking them due to not believing in progress happening, but these Autosuggestions should be done consistently.
b. A1 or A2 Autosuggestions – They increase awareness of how insecurity manifests and give the subconscious mind various perspectives against insecurity.
c. A3 Autosuggestions – These can be used for any new or difficult situations which we need to face. After taking A3 Autosuggestions, one is able to face such situations rapidly, get positive experiences and progress through them.
d. Autosuggestions for past trauma – In case there are traumatic incidents from childhood and the adolescent years which increased insecurity or inferiority in one, he should take Autosuggestions for those past incidents, with perspectives that the situation is different now. Otherwise these past incidents can keep us in an inferior state and block us from progressing further.
8.2 Perspectives which can be given
a. When a satseva is given – ‘God has given me this satseva with the support of guiding seekers. So, it is surely possible to do it. I will not trust my mind and ego, but I will trust God and the guiding seekers instead.’
b. When seeing seekers who have some qualities more developed than us – ‘They have some qualities, and I have some qualities. God has put these seekers in front of me to learn from them, and He is giving me a chance to also develop those qualities, so I will surely develop them.’
c. When someone else is praised or progressing ahead of us – ‘God does not love me any less nor is my possibility to grow spiritually any less because this other seeker progressed. Each seeker has his own path, and God gives equal chances to all, including me, so I will continue with my efforts and learn from this seeker.’
d. When there is a feeling that we are not able to progress or change – ‘For me it is not possible, but for God everything is possible. He has taken care of me throughout my life, in all situations, and is taking care of me at every moment, so I will surrender to God and rely on Him.
8.3 Actions which can be taken
a. Facing situations directly and accepting all satsevas – This way we get the experience that it is possible to do anything, and insecurity reduces.
b. Sharing openly with one’s guiding seeker and spiritual friend seeker when insecurity and inferiority or negative thoughts about oneself increase – They will give us positive perspectives which will reduce the insecurity.
c. Write the positive qualities of oneself on a paper – This will reduce the negative impressions about oneself and make him more aware of positive points. Seekers sometimes avoid looking at their qualities due to fear of their ego increasing. But if seekers realise that these qualities are from God and pay gratitude for them, their ego about these qualities will actually reduce. Otherwise, if seekers do not look at their qualities from the perspective of gratitude, they subconsciously harbour ego about these qualities and pride and superiority are maintained.
d. Ask other seekers for help – If there is a difficulty to see one’s own qualities, one can ask other seekers to tell him qualities which they observed in him and accept it as though God is telling him about his qualities. He can also ask other seekers who had insecurity about how they overcame it.
9. What happens after eradication of insecurity and inferiority ?
a. The seeker stays at a spiritual level and emotionalism reduces.
b. The seeker develops greater capacity to fight against external and internal obstacles to spiritual practice and the stability to face all situations in spiritual practice and life.
c. The seeker becomes capable of receiving feedback and accepts mistakes more easily.
d. The seeker starts developing more openness and love for others.
e. The seeker experiences more calmness and Bliss.
f. Various defects and ego which are related to insecurity reduce.
g. Humility and gratitude increase.
h. Spiritual progress is more rapid.
i. The seeker’s capacity to serve the cause of spreading Spirituality increases to a great extent.