Fighting feelings of inadequacy? Breathe into self-acceptance

breathwork quote - Dan Brule

This week I had the distinct honor to speak at the sold-out Cabo 2022 Breathing Festival. I was so excited to be included among some of the pioneers and masters in this field, including Dan Brule, breath coach to Tony Robbins. Plus, it was Cabo, an incredible place to finally attend an in-person event. The energy was palpable.

So far so good. I was scheduled to speak on day 2 of the 4-day workshop, but to my surprise, after attending the day one presentations, my energy completely shifted. And not for the better.

Suddenly, I was hit with a wave of self doubt as I began comparing myself to both the masters and the younger experts also speaking at the conference. I sat in the audience after a tall, stunning young woman finished delivering an outstanding presentation and I actually said to the person sitting next to me, “I’m just glad I didn’t have to get up onstage after the model.”

It was both unexpected and painful to experience such a strong sense of not-enoughness. I began getting triggered by other people at the event and began looking for reasons to believe I couldn’t relate to them. Which was even more triggering since these were the people most interested in my favorite subject, wasn’t this my tribe?

I hope you can see the irony here. My topic was using mind-body practices to connect with your source of strength. Although I used my breathing practices to manage my negative reactions, this time they weren’t shifting the source of my feelings. So while I kept a smile on my face throughout the event, inside I felt like crap.

Luckily I was present enough to realize how ridiculous I was being with my paranoia. I pushed myself out of my hotel room, took a 5-minute walk to the tiny rustic downtown, sat down in a cafe and let myself feel taken care of.

Out of the scene and after some reflection, I was able to realign my mindset with my goals. I was able to label my emotions, meet myself with compassion and breathe into my source of strength.

I got up onstage and delivered my presentation without a hitch, and was reassured by the love and support I received afterward. And finally I was able to recognize the growth in the discomfort.

How did I let myself get so hijacked? Why were these feelings of inadequacy so sudden and strong? When the hijack was over, I realized I consider myself competent speaker who presents online regularly. I was passionate about my topic. But feelings of inadequacy can change all that in an instant.

I know how common it is to experience these feelings during times of stress and uncertainty, but are they more common than I realized? I typed the words “feelings of” into my search bar and the first term that came up was “inadequacy”, followed by “worthlessness”, “depression” and “anxiety”.

Feelings of inadequacy, like you’re not enough, is not only common, it’s normal. But if we admit that the fear is a universal problem, we can get better at managing those triggering moments and then decide how to adjust our mindset or our course of action moving forward.

Of course, there are better and worse performances at all tasks. There are always people who are smarter, younger, richer or more attractive than we’ll ever be. We know it, but we don’t have to let it make us feel bad about ourselves. And during those inevitable times we can’t stop feeling inadequate, we don’t have to let it hijack our day or worse, stop our progress.

In fact, we can let our feelings of inadequacy teach us something about ourselves or even motivate us to peak performance, as long as we’re able to regulate them.

When you’re feeling inadequate there are four basic responses:

1. Change your state; use breathwork to get present, reduce your anxiety response. Use resilience-building tools to shift your mindset.

This is the recommended first step, then if you’re still struggling;

2. Change your situation; move your body, change your environment or connect with your support system until the trigger has passed and you can evaluate the situation more objectively.

Now you can choose an appropriate next step to either;

3. Change your performance: you’re clear on what you’re trying to achieve, but you’re not yet where you want to be, so it’s time to work harder and smarter.

4. Change your expectations: you know you’re on the right track, but things aren’t happening as quickly as, or the way you thought they would and you find yourself immersed in self-doubt. Use your daily practice to stay aligned with your values, goals and vision.

Writing and reading this makes it seem easy. When you’re triggered, then stuck in an emotional tailspin, it isn’t. But from each of these trials comes an opportunity for growth.

At the end of the day, I had three powerful takeaways following the challenging feelings I experienced. One, a life changing breathwork session with festival founder Dan Brule, a fresh appreciation for the power of these practices and a powerful new tool to share with you. I hope you’ll Join me for a 30 minute preview of my new workshop on Thursday, February 10th.

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About Elizabeth

I’m Elizabeth Borelli, breathe into breakthrough success coach and author. By combining my years of coaching experience, a BA in psychology, multiple certifications in ICF-accredited life coaching, plant-based nutrition, and RYT 200 yoga teacher training, I’ve developed a unique mind-body approach to personal growth and professional success.