We're all on the journey.
January 06, 2023
By The Power Invested in Me: Vice, Virtue and The Ways We Attempt to Signaling Superiority

When J. Stamatelos confronted his anxious insecurity; he discovered the underlying power of self-acceptance and the vicious cycle of validating oneself through the love and acceptance of others - creating a central conflict b...

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When J. Stamatelos confronted his anxious insecurity; he discovered the underlying power of self-acceptance and the vicious cycle of validating oneself through the love and acceptance of others - creating a central conflict between self-validation and external validation.


Perhaps it is the virtue that enables the existence of all others. True virtue is knowing the self - not by intellectual knowledge - but by pure silence. Seeing things with new eyes requires courage and uncertainty. Yet, we live in a world that forces us to constantly compete with others in order to achieve what we want.

As we journey throughout our lives, may we arrive at better, yet still - no better than…

There's no doubt that each of us is fighting to be, and to do, our best. We seek that space where we thrive. But what happens when this battle is within ourselves - one that rages on between your self-concept and true identity?

The result - a mask we wear each day in front of the world that hides that light inside.

  • A mask that hides our true brilliance behind that veil of insecurity, and maybe even a touch of envy.
  • A mask that makes us feel “less than…”

We bring you this exploration of the superiority complex, one of the results of such a mental battle, detailing how A conflict between self-validation and external verification is created when anxious insecurity plays a role in a person's life.

Our guest J. Stamatelos shares his insights on the effects of Anxious Insecurity & The Search for Love & Belonging.

Here's what J. Stamatelos and I cover:

1. What is the impact of anxious insecurity on our lives?

2 How do we create a sense of belonging in a fragmented society?

3. How can we create a healthy self-concept while still achieving self-actualization?

J. Stamatelos is a trauma modality expert and mental health practitioner who specializes in helping people break free from anxious insecurity and the cycle of feeling not enough.


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Credits:Music Score by Epidemic Sound

Executive Producer: Jeffrey Besecker

Mixing, Engineering, Production, and Mastering: Aloft Media Studio

Production Manager: Anna Getz

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So Jay continuing to build upon our past discussion about how, as a society, we begin to define inferior and superiority complexes in looking how their effects might surface at times as social signaling, you and I in many regards shared a common view that anxious security plays a significant role in the fundamental processes of these complexes. Addressing our main point, and roughly translated, what is anxious insecurity and what impact does it have on our lives? Right? So I define anxious insecurity, and this is the term I'm using for the chronic feeling of being not enough, regardless of how much you achieve. And so the way it impacts our lives is that this feeling triggers kind of two key behaviors.

On the one hand, since we're not enough, we try to make ourselves enough. We push ourselves. We dig into ourselves. We often use a lot of self criticism, maybe self shaming, to really say, well, maybe who you are today is enough, but if you could achieve this, then you'll be enough. So we push, we fight, we climb all the way to the top of the mountain.

After months, if not years of sacrifice, we have a brief euphoria of achievement. Then we realize that internal void still remains. And so we start to panic, and we'll often look out and say, oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God, how did I achieve all of this? And I still feel like I'm not enough. It depends, really, where we are in our process.

If we're still young and we have a lot of energy, we'll start just looking out, and maybe we'll see another mountain out there, a mountain that's bigger and taller, and it's like, oh, I just climbed the wrong mountain. That's what I need to do in order to be enough. And we just repeat the process over and over again. Now, if you've done this enough times, you start to hit a point where you realize, oh, my God, it's never going to change. This is just the truth about myself.

And this also brings us to the other behavior that's triggered with this, which is hiding because we feel like we're not enough. We live in a state of constant self rejection, and we're terrified that if other people saw us for who we really are in this state, they would reject us. So we withdraw. Some of us physically withdrawal, and we pull back from family and friends in social situations, while other of us just hide in plain sight by creating a mask that hides who we really are. Either way, we end up at the same place, feeling deeply alone.

Because even if you build the best mask in the world, and that mask gets you all the praise and adoration you want, that's not for you. That's for the mask. And you're still left feeling like you're alone and you're not enough. So this anxious insecurity really just keeps us stuck in this cycle of feeling very isolated, constantly ripping on ourselves and just desperate for relief that we cannot. Find in that regard, we're looking for many different forms of validation both within ourselves and in others.

Right? It's not just about proving that we're enough to everyone else. It's really the main person who we're trying to prove that we are enough to is ourselves. We have our standards. They're often extremely high, and we often just find ourselves repeatedly falling short of.

Them as we look at anxious insecurity. What might be some of the key trigger points that cause us to move into that reactive state? And why do so many of us feel chronically insecure as a whole? So most of the people who I work with and again, this is what I went through in my life. This is why I work with this population.

It's usually things that make you self assessed or feel very judged. So one point in life where this is often very severe for people is in college. You're about to start a career, but you haven't started yet. Am I going to be good enough for an employer? I'm going to be judged off a piece of paper?

Is that piece of paper going to say enough about me? Oh my God, what if they want this or that? Instead, you can jump back and imagine being a high schooler or even a grade school kid. At this point, the pressure to get into a good college for so many is so high. It's, am I going to be enough for this person?

And so there's constant trigger points. I mean, being on social media and seeing everyone else's things and comparing yourself to them, it's an endless constant comparison. We have this problem. In short, the shortest answer I can give is because we have created a society that thrives at creating deep. It's extremely individual, it's extremely lonely, and it's extremely competitive economically.

And there's a lot of other factors here. The way we raise our children now, the amount of stress that's in childhood for both parents and kids alike, the lack of relationships. The fact that now households are really this one bubble and there's not all these other support people around you that you can attach to it's. Any emotional attachment you're going to get has to come from your parents. And if they aren't able to offer it, you're just stuck where for our ancestors, when you grow up in a tribe, you have that resource all around you.

So we have that. We have lots of a lot of friendships because of how isolated we are. We have how certain religions train us to think about ourselves. We have advertising and politics and news and big data. Just finding all these ways to really make us feel insecure and profit off of all of that.

And just this big shift that we had economically in the late seventy s and eighty s and this rise of neoliberalism which created this hyper competitive market where you have to stand out and be, you have to be amazing, you have to be perfect. Otherwise you'll be looked over and then you just have the natural human desire to seek belonging. We want to belong. How do you find belonging in a world that is so fractured? It's a lot.

I find that curious to look at as we go through life, that that seems to occur at such key points when we're seeking to establish some sense of independent identity, yet still feeling that ability to connect and evolve together. Yeah, and I think we've had this assumption, or this belief in the Western world that we are individuals. Even Margaret Thatcher famously said there is no such thing as society, just individuals. And while you can understand that, on the one hand, it really ignores what is probably the most important thing to know about human beings as a species, which is that we are hyper social. We are hyper social.

If I got 100 strangers and I put them in the room and I left for an hour and I came back, I'd come back to find a room full of groups, they would have found any reason to join together. Maybe like the red shirts are here, people who like listening to rock are here, and even the wall flowers, the ones who don't want to be engaged in all of this socializing, they'll probably be in a group together on the edge, like pointing fingers at these other people, all things saying, oh, look at these people. Luckily we're not like them in their own group. We have this deep desire to belong in. So to go on your point on identity for so much of us, I think normally for humans, how do you have an identity outside of the relationships in your life?

You can't. It's impossible to do so, of course, this plays a huge role. The way we relate to others and the relationships we have with them and the way we think they think about us and how well we think we belong. It plays a huge role in our identity. So often we look at that as separate but different.

Yet, in actuality, are we not essentially just one that's kind of a complex, interesting can of worms to pick through sometimes, just finding that commonality, guiding us back to that center point where we joined together. Why, when we look at that, that aspect of None enoughness, why do so many people seem to frequently struggle with this concept of a sense of secure, sense of enoughness? I think the quickest way to answer that question is because they have not had enough experiences in their life of feeling secure relationships with others.

If we think about love, if we think about love or how we connect and maybe love isn't the best word, but I can't think of a better one right now. I could go on to Brant about the English language or style it into these words. That's not important right now. It could be looked as rot with a lot of inconsistencies. I often approach it.

But we can look and see there's almost two different forms of love we can look at. There's love because of, like, because you did this, because you did that, because you've achieved this, we give you love. And that is how if you grew up in a culture or in a group where you are judged by your achievements, you are judged by what you can bring to the table. Or, you know, when you're an employer, look, you're going to hire your employees because of this. It is this kind of transactional.

You have to become something in order for others to want you. And that has become so dominant in today's society. But the other side of love, which I think actually in reality exists in greater quantity, even though we don't see it and we don't focus on it, is the love. Even though even though you screw up, even though you do this, even though you routinely fail in these ways, I still love you just because of who you are. And if we think of the people in our life who they're not a perfect person, but we still love them, we still embrace them.

To even the stranger who we're in the grocery store and our carts banging to each other, we're like, oh, yeah, my bad. Sorry. We'll give pleasantries to each other. We don't expect everyone around us to be perfect. And we're okay with that.

I mean, that compassion, that acceptedness is what allows us to stay together as humans. Otherwise, we would all reject each other all the time. But you need to have enough of that second one. There needs to be enough of that in your life where, you know, even though I'm not perfect, I have connections in my life that let me know I am secure and I can just be who I am. And that's okay.

I love that concept. Love. Even though I feel so often we can each find ourselves in that space where we find ourselves questioning love because of right, love. If especially we come with somewhat of that loaded conditionality, whether conscious or unconscious. I always try to frame it that way.

Sometimes those things are below that we're just not readily apparent with. Sometimes moving to that new state of love requires change. In our past conversation, you shared how external change doesn't equate to internal change and how this triggers us to remain in a constant state of hiding. Right? Let's look at that a little bit, if we can.

Sure. So the population I work with so let's back up a step. So if we accept the fact that one of the biggest problems, if not the biggest problem in today's world is loneliness and feeling isolated from the tax it puts on us, on our mental health and our physical health. And I mean, there's countless studies around this. The logical conclusion then is, okay, well then let's just put people together.

Let's connect people. And for some that will work. That does do a lot to solve this problem. But for my population, that's probably going to make them feel even worse because now they're around other people. Oh my God, what if everyone sees me for who I am?

Oh my God, what if, like they're reminding me of my own insecurities, reminding this I have to get away. And so there is serious truth to the statement that self belonging is the root of external belonging. Because if I make the assertion that our greatest fear is to be completely exiled and to be completely rejected by a rose around us because historically for our ancestors that would mean death. If my biggest fear is to be totally rejected, I think we can argue that our greatest desire is to be completely loved for who we are. But the only way that we could do that is if we're able to be seen for who we are.

And the only way we can be seen for who we are is if we take off our own mask. No one else can do that. So we have to be secure enough in ourselves that we can take that mask off so that other people can see us and we can connect with those who do love us for who we are. Surmising that we're on that path to self actualization. I'll frame it that way today because how we frame things often determines how we begin to see them.

Assuming we're on that path to self actualization, might we sometimes create boundaries for various reasons, say, emotional reactivity, where we start to build that wall rather than opening up to others? Healthy boundaries aside, we know the value in that and safeguarding very real threat. Where might we start to develop some of these unhealthy boundaries that keep others out, that keep us from that sense of belonging? So I think I would probably frame it if I were to use a rough rule of thumb in a conversation with someone around us, I would probably frame it as asking, why do you have this boundary up? Is it coming from a place of fear or is it coming from a place of respect?

So that's how I would frame it. Because if it is a fear based one, maybe this is something we need to look at. If it is, say for example, you're in a relationship. Maybe you're someone who your ex partner cheated on you. So now you have this fear based boundary of I'm not going to let anyone get that close to me or I'm not going to trust enough.

That's hurting you more than it's helping you. Now, if you have a family member who you've tried to find a resolution with, the angus can't. And it is just not good for you to be together. That to me, is a healthy boundary that's just respecting the truth of the situation. And it doesn't have to involve hatred.

It doesn't have to involve anger. You can even forgive them while still saying, I still need this boundary just out of my respect for myself and to a degree, out of respect for you as well. That's a golden nugget. Today. I'm holding space for this idea of transference where we project our past emotional experiences, our past experiences, our past judgments and evaluations onto others, onto situations and circumstances that are unrelating, can be viewed as somewhat of a condition and patterned behavior throughout society where we're judging that current interaction based on that past feeling, that past experience.

Right? So one of the main modalities I use is internal family systems, which is a trauma modality. And anyone who's using any sort of trauma modality is going to say, well, that's everything.

You're not engaging. It's not just what's happening right now. Maybe that does play a role. But is this about what happened today? Or is this about what happened to you when you were six and that tape has been constantly playing in you or that part of you is still there.

There's still that kid in that desperate situation. And this is just too close a reminder. This is punching. This is that poking that pain. Because if we can heal that, then this, that's present here, now, it's not going to be triggering anymore.

Stepping back from ourselves, as we might often do, might we look at that as somewhat of a normalized, accepted condition of society where we feel such conversations, such views on trust, are often rooted in that concept where we look at that action of love. Again, love exists when rather than as that ultimate condition where we say when we validate what we think and feel about the past, we now deem this person worthy. How do we kind of dance that fine line from your perspective? Is there a way you could rephrase the question? Rephrase that?

So often, even within looking at social media or marketing interactions or day to day interactions, we build this concept of we meet somebody three word motto know, like trust. We base our knowing so often on those past experiences. I know this person because I knew something in my past. Now I like this person because based on past experiences, they pass the test. I now allow them into that circle of trust.

Right? If I'm answering this right, I think this is just this boils down to mindfulness and selfawareness and just watching my behavior, being aware that this is just a normal part of being human, that we do this and having that observational ability within ourselves to watch our behavior and say, I wonder why? I'm really curious why I do this. Or I'm really curious why this is coming up and if you see yourself in that pattern, being mindful enough to say, oh, I'm in this pattern, and taking a breath and maybe stepping out of it and just looking and saying, yeah, why is this pattern here right now? What's familiar about this in many regards?

Might we view that then as that quest for certainty and control that we so often feel we might seek? That's a good question, and I would say to a degree, yes, it's control. And I would say it's maybe to put it more finely, maybe about our ability to predict. Because in many ways the brain is a prediction machine. And when we're in scenarios, we're trying to predict, is this going to be safe or is this going to be dangerous?

Can I relax or do I have to be on guard? And shared the same conversation just yesterday with a fellow coach about looking at that role. Authenticity or our views on authenticity play throughout our lives, looking at that idea of know, like and trust engaging. How do we answer that question with that yes? And that doesn't limit us to black and white thinking.

How do we balance that sense of predictability with a healthy sense of security? That allows the uncertainty, that allows that genuine acceptance of another, that allows genuine acceptance of ourselves? To say, I'm only certain to the degree I'm uncertain, for example. Well, I think anytime you deal with uncertainty, which I think is just stressful for everyone, that's just stressful for every human that exists. Yeah, healthy.

We don't often talk about, from my perspective, healthy stress and unhealthy stress and how the two work together or how they might create resistance to each other. I agree with that. But I can also see how it also depends on your background, where you're coming from, because one thing that could be healthy for someone is going to be overloading for you because you don't have the bandwidth for it. I was not too long ago watching, I saw Inception for the first time not too long ago, and it ends with this cliffhanger where you don't really know, is it a dream or is it reality? And so for me, I'm like, that's just an interesting ending, and I'm ready to move on to the next thing.

The person I'm watching it with is like, no, I can't have this. She's going and looking for me to resolve this. And I was just like, oh, how interesting how the same thing causes a totally different reaction in us. And so I'm going to frame this in the area I play in, which is social acceptance and rejection. So I think we live in this culture that tells us over and over again, be yourself, don't have fear.

Just take off your mask and show yourself to the world. Okay, so how do you do that? And I think a lot of the advice we hear is basically the brute force approach you just have to buckle down. You just have to do it. You just have to push yourself to do the thing that's uncomfortable.

That is a very important skill. We all need that skill. You will have to use it in your life no matter what. But to ask someone to do that every single day, it's just not sustainable from an energy standpoint. It's not sustainable because let's say you do it and all of us at some level, I think, have awareness of what I'm talking about.

You commit to this big change, but it takes so much energy that as soon as life throws you a curveball or you get sick or something comes that requires that energy, all that falls apart. And then you get even more angry with yourself saying, oh see, I can't even do this. When really the problem was this was an unsustainable model for you to try to pursue. So what's a different one? What if we made the fear of rejection less?

What if we if you imagine that you have a cup and this cup, when it's full, allows you to feel loved and when it's full, you feel safe. If you have no way to fill this cup from yourself, you're always going to be just looking around for people to fill it and you're going to be desperate. But if you could fill it even halfway, halfway from yourself, from your own self belonging, from your own relationship with yourself, you know you're never going to go thirsty. You still need other people to fill up the other half of that cup. You can't fill the whole thing by yourself.

But now it's okay if this person doesn't give you water because you still have water, you can go and find someone else who has even better water for you. It's pure, it's richer, it's not going to be polluted. And we can just relax. So for me, the amount of security we have inside ourselves defines the amount of uncertainty that we can risk externally. So the more secure we are inside, easier life is outside.

Sometimes we look at that cup half full, half empty, rather than that cup being a sustainable processes where it's in a state of motion. We'll get back to that. Right? Is it possible that anxious insecurity becomes at times a more subversive form of self sabotage as we allow ourselves to become convinced we aren't deserving of our own worthiness? I'll frame it that way, yeah, great.

Question and absolutely so. The people I work with generally the way they're going to be very aware of at least two parts within themselves or two energies or two voices, and the one will be this harsh, harsh critic that tells them they're crap, they're not enough, they're whatever. And then some part that's holding on to deep pain and shame. And this is a relationship the critic pokes that an ifs we call it the exile, but it pokes this pain makes that painful awful, and it just kind of can get you stuck. Now, this dynamic can play out in different ways.

That critic can do this in order to make you engage in behavior like I was describing before. You're not enough now, but if you do this, then you will be. But it can also make it into that hiding and collapsing behavior. You shouldn't even try. What do you think other people want to hear what you have to say?

You think that other people care how you feel? Shut up. Sit down. And so if we look at it from that way on the outside, we'd say, oh my God, this is self sabotage. Why do I always tear myself apart?

But if you go into the system, if you meet this part of you, this critic, and you engage with it, and you find out a story, why are you saying these things to this person? How are you trying to help? They will often say, well, I watched in their life that every time they did this, they experienced such pain, and I can't let that pain happen to them anymore. I have to be harsh on them because if I'm not, they're going to put themselves in another situation that's going to hurt even more. I hate doing this job.

I don't want to do this job, but it's the only way I know how to keep them safe. And so we can look at that critic and say, oh, so you're not actually the enemy here. You're just trying to help in a way that makes sense to you. And the beautiful thing is that critic doesn't have to stay in that role. It can transform.

And I've seen these parts transform into cheerleaders that help pick that person up and keep them motivated because they know how to motivate them. Or maybe they just relax and enjoy just existing. That role does not define that part of a person. It's just how it's acting in this moment to try to keep them safe. Adler called it a form of neuroses, looking at anxious insecurity and the ways we utilize that as self sabotage.

Neuroses being related to neuroticism, neuroticism eventually evolving as a five factor model, as a part of a form of narcissism. We just throw that out there today to think upon maybe down the road, staying with Adler, he theorized that the most important characteristic of life is movement. Kind of been looking at that act of movement, right? That does not mean that life living and things cannot be in a state of a mobility at times, but that the capacity for motion is present as long as life exists. And that all psychic life can be interpreted in terms of this movement.

To me, I'm glad we fell into that notch together today and found that groove, because we've been talking about that movement, right? If we don't keep moving in many regards, we stay stuck. We stay in states of disintegration and disease throughout life. In short, we suffer. I feel this is largely because we look at staying within any given emotion indefinitely.

We look for this eternal state of happiness rather than feeling our emotions as a process that arises as a signal. We long for that rolon kind of drama, sometimes for a lack of better word, of constantly feeling a specific emotion or being stuck in that rumination, that stagnated motion of looking at a past, feeling a past emotion, staying in that lingering state of anxious insecurity that arises in anxiety itself. So the part of what you said that stands out to me is this idea of emotions being sources of information. Because when I'm so most of the people I work with are men, about 80%, and I'd say about 30% to 40% of those men really have almost no functional relationship with their feelings. They might have even been through therapy because most people I work with have been through some form of CBT or DBT or something before working with me.

And it helped them, but there was still this gap, but they have no functional relationship with their feelings. And so I frame it as if we have five external senses. Our emotions are internal senses. They're giving us information about the world. So for what I'm calling anxious insecurity, for me, that is an alarm going off saying, oh, my God, oh my God, oh, my God.

You do not have healthy belonging which you need in order to stay alive. I need you to find this. And so I think some people look at this and say, but you can't point to a problem. Therefore this is dysfunctional. But that would be the same as if you imagine being dropped in the middle of the Sahara Desert and you're freaking out.

Well, of course you're freaking out because you have no water. You can't point to something. It's the lack of a thing that's driving you. So you need those emotions because we need to know what is going on. What do we need?

What do we as a system, what do we need to attend to so that we can have this healthier and calmer and more self actualized life? I think from that aspect, we can easily look at love, or maybe more deeply look at love, I'll say more deeply framing it as that bedrock emotion, that bedrock feeling or existing state because it is rooted in that nurturing aspect at its core. Yeah, and I'm a huge fan of social baseline theory which makes the argument that humans did not evolve to like other animals, to live in a specific location or a specific climate. Humans evolved to be around other humans. And so that love is just the name we're giving to.

That the name for that truth, that it's the connection in our lives that defines virtually everything about our lives. I insert break, insert. Break, insert break. Looking at that idea of love and turning that toward self love, given the focus of this episode, inferiority superiority complexes and social signaling at the core, what are some of the ways we tend to kind of pump up ourselves, to have that more inflated sense of self love sometimes? Or feeling the sense of superiority in order to deal, manage or cope with our insecurities?

Yeah. So this is something I've seen more so in my ifs work where we will have a part, we would call it a firefighter because it's this part that comes up and it's main job is to sue the system. So just like a real firefighter, look, if I kind of destroy your house with water damage while putting out your fire, that's okay. My job is put out the fire. These firefighter parts aren't really concerned with the long term consequences of their action.

They're just trying to soothe the system down. So even though I primarily work with people who would come to me saying most of the time I feel insecure, almost all of us and I include myself in this, we have parts of ourselves that will make us feel superior to people sometimes or often from this firefighter standpoint, in order to soothe the system. If we have some sort of deep pain of feeling inferior, well, let's not feel that. Let's feel all the things that make us feel bigger than others, are more powerful than others, or this and that can come from saying cruel things to thinking cruel things, to even trying to physically dominate others. And as someone who before I got into this work, I worked in emergency management and counterterrorism, and I studied why do people engage in violence?

That's really what kind of got me interested in human behavior to begin with. And there's so many examples of violence being used as a coping mechanism to essentially to help people feel better about themselves in that moment. I could so relate to that notion of the firefighter in a previous life experience. Not a previous life, but a previous experience in this life. Let me frame it that way.

Previous experience in this life, I was a firefighter, and we were taught that key aspect called situational awareness. Might unexpressed shame frequently surface as a key source of insecurity in and of itself? Yes, I would say all the time. So it's making me think of I can't remember the exact way the phrases when I think of strength. So as someone who works primarily with men and who previously ran the only secular men's group in Pittsburgh, I've thought about things like strength and security and things a lot.

When I think of strength, to me, the paradox of strength is that the most secure man in the room is the man who needs to do the least in order to feel secure. He doesn't have to adorn himself with weapons or adorn himself with armor. He doesn't need to constantly prove to others how strong he is or make great displays of his strength. He can be in my mind like an elder seasoned and respected martial arts master just sitting quietly, drinking his tea because he is at peace. Now, if you have some young kid come in who's trying to prove himself who's trying to show to everyone look how powerful I am, look how strong I am who's he trying to convince?

Is it really everyone else or is it him? So that unexpressed shame, that unexpressed feeling and not being enough is driving. That kid is driving. That person trying to prove in some way or in the person who is acting with superiority or it's always driving a behavior where that sense of security, knowing you're enough, it's very peaceful. You don't have to do anything because you're already here.

Might that be a fine line we all in many regards dance with? I know myself I find myself questioning in a very healthy way, hopefully. Am I stating these things to simply share my perspective? Or am I trying to reinforce and prop up an unconscious belief? Something below am I unconsciously seeking that validation?

Am I unconsciously trying to verify that sense of self worth? Not with a lot of doubt, hopefully. I don't feel a lot of doubt most of the time but just simply saying where do we walk that line? So we aren't starting to signal somewhat consciously or unconsciously that sense of insecurity and then ultimately finding that need for superiority. I think I would actually answer and say I don't know that you ever can stop signaling.

It's nothing more than energetic signal and our intention, our signal what it is sometimes is just simply open purely for interpretation for others to meet their circumstances, their situations, their perspective all of that. That whole bag of worms. Worms even deal with that signal when we call it a bag of worms, that's conditioned a lot of times it's conditioned right now and not consciously thinking of it in a negative way but a bag of worms can be seen as good in some regards. We think of compost coming from a bag of worms versus a bag of worms as something dead and rotting so it's all open for meaning and interpretation and you just put your heart I'll say heart because it would go back to heart because that's conditioned. You put your energy of being into that and allow it to be what it is.

Yeah, I think in a way you could think of all of us as just these broadcasting towers and we're just sending out these signals and we're trying to find other people that connect with us and we are also receivers. We can all think of, I think the people we know who we know that they are secure in themselves and they're calm so we just like being around them because they even help us feel calm. It's just we can just be around them. Don't ask to prove anything to anyone. We also know that people who feel hypersecure and they're always in a state of somewhat disarray, and so we maybe give them a little bit more room so that no one's getting hurt, no one's getting on anyone's way.

So we can look at this from both ends. What am I receiving and what do I notice about being around others? We're always signaling, I want to stay. With this a second. Sure.

Looking at that idea of maybe superpowers or seeing ourselves as a unicorn, a warrior, we look for persona. It's persona. Would it not be in some regards, considered persona and personification moving into those states? This is one I've kind of sat with for a good deal of time now, how consciously and unconsciously those seeds of belief might work in any given circumstances. And then just simply with a healthy regard, considering where it's adverse and where it's beneficial.

I'm going to give an answer, but. If this is like I said, this is an aside right now, I think we've got what we need for the conversation. This is more or less a painting, you and I, back and forth to. See where in ifs we make the assertion that or I think we make the observation that we are all made up of different parts. Yeah.

So you're not just a warrior. You can have a warrior spirit within you, a part that carries that or a group of parts that act in a certain way. And maybe sometimes you're a caretaker, maybe sometimes you're this and you're that. And so as someone who has helped people be I was having a conversation with a client, and they were really focused at the time. This was years ago.

They were really focused at the time about being authentic, and they were upset because they went home for the holidays, and they felt like I wasn't myself. I was this version of myself. And then I realized when I was out with my friends, I was another version. Then when I was at work, I realized, oh, my God, I'm another version here. I feel like I'm lying to everyone.

My answer for that was no. I think you're actually just being a functional human. The person I am, when you're responding to a disaster, that person is very different than the person sitting here. Having this conversation is very different as the person who's maybe being there as a means of support for someone you love is very different from the person who's relaxing on the couch. You need to be able to be all of those people.

So I think it's about being able to have this multiplicity within ourselves just coming from a healthy state. So for me, this kind of begs a question in ifs when you say, okay, well, then if you have all of these parts, then who are you? How can you have a functional image of yourself as a unified being if you have all these parts? I would say, well, it's kind of like viewing a symphony as an organized unit. And it's, well, I have all this within me.

It's just I am myself, my core self energy plus my parts without my emotional pain. If I can release some of those burdens, if I can release some of that pain, then that part of me can switch from its dysfunctional role, where it's acting in fear, into a more functional role where it's playing the music it was born to play as a side. I'm going to sit with that minute. Sure. In many regards, that's like looking at the difference between playing a character, having character and characteristics, maybe somewhat of a triad.

There playing a character, simply adopting those roles and those being sustained characteristics. Yeah. Are we playing the role? Are we just mirroring the role out of obligation, projection, whatever? Maybe another complete aside.

And we're straying. Yeah, straying hard. It's just that question. Why are you doing focusing back? Let me reel back in here.

Where did we step off course on that? But I think there's some juice in there and there's definitely stuff where we're both looking for future thoughts. So that's good. We're staying in motion because we're not just stuck in this moment. So, Jay, as I look back at our email interactions today, I noticed something curious.

Our email server here at the Light Inside is hosted on a network called a secure server. I thought that was interesting in regard to this discussion. As humans, we might often seek that secure foundation that signals that the messages we receive are safe and working in our best interest. How does viewing ourselves within this message of positive self regard encourage our sense of both security and self worth? So there has been research done on the performance of people who have high self esteem versus people who have high self compassion.

And if we define self compassion as so, these are two very different things that get confused often. Self esteem is very much about I want to view myself in a very positive light. I want to think nice things about myself. Where self compassion is almost the opposite. It's saying, oh, I know I am an imperfect human, but I am still deserving of love and respect just like everyone else, because everyone is every person in the universe simply by existing, is deserving or holds inherent human worth.

And I'm one of those people, therefore I do as well. And if we relate this back to our idea of loving because of versus loving, even though if we want to know, well, how do you break out of anxious insecurity? For me, it's being able to grow that self relationship of loving even though with ourselves, even though I am an imperfect human, even though I make mistakes, I can still hold myself in a positive way. And that's what the research has backed up has said that this is actually what lets people perform better. So when you have someone who has high self esteem, that is a very fragile system because it's easily attacked if you get bad criticism, if it doesn't work out, oh my God.

Now your system has to find a way to make yourself feel good about the fact that you felt. But for people who have high self compassion, they're grounded. And so it's almost like the things that happen on the outside stay on the outside. They don't define who you are as a person. So if you make a mistake, that's it, that's just it.

You made a mistake. It's not that you are a mistake. You can still hold that positive space for yourself regardless of what's happening externally. So, like we said, the most primal form for me, I believe the most primal form of security that we can fill in our life is to have a sense of belonging. And if we can have at least some of that from ourselves, we're always going to carry some degree of safety in that regard.

The program here is the light inside only. Just look at the light inside. We look at some of that darkness inside at times, right? At times, to get to that light, we have to travel through some of that darkness, work through some of it, come to terms with it, form a new meaning with it. Sometimes we wear that darkness, as we've mentioned, as that mask that hides us from ourselves and others, from that instinctual view of positive psychology.

For me, it's not just adapting an unlimited and sometimes toxic pattern of positivity or optimism, but rather viewing our adversities and benefits with equanimity or equal regard, right? Sometimes we run from that darkness and just shove it down. We put on that mass to others so they can't see that darkness and be there to be available for us in any regard. So what I'm reminded of is hearing about our shadow parts or the parts of ourselves that are hidden not just from others, but from ourselves. And especially coming from an Ifs framework.

We make the assertion that all parts are welcome. There are no bad parts. That is the title of one of the latest Ifs books. No bad parts. So even the shame we talk about, or this feeling of insecurity, it's not the enemy, that pain, you have to go through it.

You have to me that. But you can embrace it. You can show up to your deepest insecurity. From a place of love and compassion, you can show up to your deepest self criticism. From a place of love and compassion, you can show up to any part of yourself.

From that way. Nothing in us has to be viewed as the enemy. So you practice modality called internal family systems. Why do you feel as a system that makes it such a dynamic approach to fostering our journey of self actualization, of finding that sense of security? Maybe so.

I've been doing this work for over eleven years and I have this modality brings together everything I've found useful up until this point under one roof. I hold the assertion and this did not come from let me restart I hold the assertion I hold the assertion that the best way to improve our life is to improve the relationship we have with ourselves because that defines every other relationship we have. I can't think of a more effective way to do that than to work with a modality that allows us to engage with every single part of ourself, even the parts that we try to hide or historically have felt we had to suppress from a place of love and compassion. Because I do believe that compassion is the thing that is missing most in people who struggle with anxious insecurity. It's the thing I had to learn how to be compassionate to myself.

And most of the clients I work with have some learning curve themselves because they're so used to just being harsh towards themselves. And we can look to modalities like self compassion, which I use and I love, which look at compassion as a muscle to build. But we can also look at things like ifs, which make the assertion that that compassion state exists already within you. But just as the sun is covered up by clouds, we just need to get the clouds to move a bit and we can bring it forward. So I love combining self compassion and ifs especially for people just starting out, because it allows you to approach the same problem from two different ways where you meet with the exact same solution, which is just to have a healthier relationship with ourselves.

Well, I feel sometimes that self doubt allows us to reject some of those solutions. On that note, how do we break out of that mold of chronic self rejection that drives anxious insecurity and potentially creates the state leading to either inferiority or superiority complex? Perhaps there's probably two different roads that need to be taken either simultaneously or at different times. The first and possibly more important road is to ask how did this doubt get there in the first place? What did this person experience that caused them to carry this pain or this chronic sense of insecurity or that have this void inside them?

Can we learn about the origin of that? Can we heal it so it doesn't have to be held and carried in their body? So that's step one. Step two is learning how to do things differently. Before I was doing ifs, when I was doing a lot more just pure self compassion work years ago.

I love giving this drill to people where I would ask if someone comes in and they're like I want to achieve X, I said okay, well, let me guess. Historically, in your life, when you've gone to achieve a goal, you've probably figured out, here's the goal. Here's who I have to be, and here's what I need to do in order to achieve it. And then you instantly pull out the whip and you start cracking the whip on yourself to meet these criteria? Well, yeah, of course.

That's how everyone achieves goals. Well, okay. So my answer is, okay, well, let's play a game here. What if you have the same goal and the same things you have to hit, but you're not allowed to cause yourself any unnecessary suffering? You cannot crack a whip on yourself.

What if you had to figure out a way to pursue this goal where you saw yourself as an ally you needed to help instead of an enemy you wanted to defeat? And that requires a completely different mindset. And it can feel almost like relearning how to walk. I mean, that's what was for me. It took me months to ask myself, okay, I have this thing.

How can I do this in a way where I'm actually trying to help myself? But then it becomes so much easier once you do. Let me just jump right into that next question of make this look like that fragile ego battle between seeing yourself as the ally within rather than the enemy. We are struggling to resist both inside and externally. Looking at that idea of fragile ego, is there any way that now, at this point, it makes sense to segue into that?

Or are we reaching going into ego and going into maybe narcissism? That's kind of off point, I feel. I guess I'm kind of curious, just as inside to hear what you mean by ego. What do you mean by ego? That's one I'm kind of at an impasse in life right now with ego.

I've shifted and stepped back and really pondered that. And this is purely from an opinion point of view that I feel that ego, maybe by design, is a sub proponent of our emotionality. It's just that signal and filter. I think we get from that perspective, caught up in our own insecure battle with that. So often that becomes our scapegoat.

That's our Santa Claus. I just watched a movie, The Santa Claus. One of the Santa Claus was his get out Clause. How do I stop being Santa Claus when I no longer want to be Santa Claus? Sometimes I feel we scapegoat that ego as a form of self sabotage to get out of things, or sometimes as a beneficial thing.

I don't feel it's neither good nor bad inherently of itself. And it's simply that filter that keeps us on track, keep you guided in those boundaries, moving you forward so you are in movement. I think that's a great take. I've always had an issue as someone who was raised in a pretty conservative Roman Catholic household in school, I was also raised Greek Orthodox too. Neither both my parents kept their religion, so I was raised in both.

But Roman Catholicism definitely had the primary impact on my life growing up. This idea, it just to me, seems like Original Sin rebranded. Yeah. I have my own brush with Catholicism via my first marriage. My first wife was Catholic, and for years I attended Catholic Church.

I didn't profess or never committed to it. Right. But, yeah, you know, there again, it becomes another thing that somewhat becomes dogmatic, depending on where, from our human perspective, we each choose to leverage it from that perspective of, he's got an ego. Well, by most regards, what we've been taught, psych 101 back to ego, it's an internal state. So how do you know what his ego is doing?

Just becomes a projected assumption that gets misappropriated. Well, he has an ego. Well, we all have an ego. Right. When we're acting from it is kind of an internal state.

Just like when we sense our own emotions. We can see a very outwardly display of emotion a lot of times. Yet do we do the same with ego, or do we make just base assumptions on that a lot of times, even within ourselves? Well, I like the phrasing you used previously. Maybe we scapegoat of just whatever we don't like.

We throw in this bag and we. Call it ego and then try to run away. It's that bag of worms. Homo sapiens have existed for somewhere around 300,000 years, not to mention our entire evolutionary history before that. If something is here, there has to be a reason why it's here.

Yes. And if it isn't needed, we've evolved past it. Yeah. So why are we past ego?

Or do we need it? Why do we make the assumption that it has to be bad? Insecurity is my theory. Does there always need to be something wrong, something for us to say, to tell ourselves we have to break out of this? Because from an ifs point of view, if someone says that he has a huge ego, I'd be really curious about what parts of him are causing this to happen.

Is this some part of him that is this huge? So we have these firefighters to put out fires, and then we have these things called managers that prevent fires, and the managers try to keep life very controlled and very on point. Maybe if someone has someone can have a very managerial part that makes them feel very superior. It makes them feel very big. And if you dig into these parts, what you'll often find is at some point there was some sort of traumatic pain that happened here that this thing is trying to prevent from happening again.

And it could be this feeling of insecurity. It could also be pain that was caused by another, where if someone was very hurt by their religious circle and so they become a diehard atheist and say, well, I'm not going to become like those people hurt me. Or if they become so if they were maybe saw people act out in an inappropriate way sexually, they become very antisexual themselves because they don't want to be seen like this and they feel superior about this. These are all trauma responses. I think in that regard we can look at ego as healthy, unhealthy state.

And then when we move again in those kind of more compulsive I'll frame it as compulsive states of chronic egoism. Right. We look at that black and white thinking when we look at it and so often we can see throughout life where that sets us up for kind of a stilted view. Right. For my wording today, a stilted view.

How do we open that view back up and say adverse, benefit, healthy, unhealthy, not even right or wrong because that becomes somewhat black and white. We start to slip in the gray. Then can you even call something unhealthy if it's somehow trying to help the person?

Again? Does it become chronic in its patterning where it repetitively becomes adverse or creates something of an undesired effect? And does it move into that progressive state, moving toward that chronic state of being as a toxicity? It's creating ill effect. Right.

And it's the pattern itself that's toxic. I feel this is another side and I'm going to spin it real quick and let it go. We start labeling toxic people toxic relationships. When we reel that back into its core intention, it was the pattern, the result, the interaction itself is toxic in its effect. Rather than just lump sum and saying they're done it's, toxic becomes a stilted black and white view that becomes inhibitive.

Yeah, that's a complete aside. Let's pull it back in. Sure. So I think one more key point and I think we've got it. There's a lot of juice in this one.

So pulling back, how might this struggle for security affect our ability to build solid relationships or feel a sense of group None in and of themselves overall? I mean, that is the million dollar question. Let's ask the million dollar question today. Yeah, because for all this is my work, right. This is my and again, this didn't come because I thought this was it sounded nice or because it was kind or because it was anything else.

It works. This is what works.

Because coming from being a former responder yourself, me being working in emergency management, before you respond to the situation you're dealt with, you don't bring a theory to it. You have to do what solves the problem. And so through experimentation, it really was seen the best thing you can do for someone or the best thing any of us can do is repair this relationship with ourselves. That is not my end goal for anyone I work with. I don't just want them to feel better.

What my hope is from this is that two things happen. One, that they are able to now bring their gifts to the world, whatever their light is, whatever color that is, whatever or it takes that they're able to be secure enough to be vulnerable enough to let that shine and they can have live in that way that allows them to express a healthy way. My second hope is that they were able to form those deep relationships of belonging that all of us yearn for. And again, that only happens when we feel secure enough to be vulnerable, to connect with people at that level that I can't think of anything in life that matters more in today's world than being able to achieve those things. My friend, I can see you channeling that today.

Your light truly shines and I'm so grateful we shared this conversation today. Thank you so much. It was a real pleasure being here.

I think we nailed that. At the end of the day, each one of us wants to find meaning, feel loved, valued, respected, accepted and nurtured. Thank you so much. This truly has been a great discussion. Thank you.

I truly am appreciative and value the energy and effort and insight you put into this today. This truly has been a fully aligned and collaborative love aligned labor of love today. So thank you for that. Thank you. It was a pleasure doing this.

I will say you and your team have been among the most thorough people I've worked with. I can be anal about it sometimes too a fault and sometimes too advantage. There again, I appreciate it. Is there anything else of value we can add today? The only thing I would well, I guess you don't really do calls to action.

You can let's put it in the notes, whatever. It would just be because I don't really have social media, so if anyone wants to get in touch with me, it's really just best to connect through my website, which is just Jameschaamatellis.com. Awesome. Yeah, that's it. As we build out that will definitely be in show notes.

J. StamatelosProfile Photo

J. Stamatelos

Self-Relationship Coach / Internal Family Systems (IFS) Practitioner

I believe the way we have been taught to approach personal change is entirely wrong.

Most self-improvement materials focus on a single strategy: brute-force transformation. We’re given an ideal to live up to and pursue it with all our might. If this strategy worked, we’d all become the exact people we want to be and go on with our lives. That’s not what happens. Instead, this strategy generates massive self-conflict with minimal long-term change. Even if we succeed for awhile, we often find ourselves back exactly where we started.

I almost lost my life to severe self-loathing and insecurity and have dedicated the last 10 years of my life to answering two key questions: 1) why do so many of us feel like we're chronically "not enough" no matter how much we achieve, and 2) what interventions actually work in fixing this? I've spent years reading academic papers, working with clients, and collaborating with others. After all this time, one solution stands consistent - developing a healthy self-relationship founded on self-compassion is the best way forward. However, this isn't always easy to do - and for many of us, the idea of it can even feel like a threat.

Before becoming a coach, I worked in counter-terrorism and emergency response. I specialize in working with men, previously ran the only secular men's group in Pittsburgh, and believe many of our struggles come back to men being unable to process their emotions in a healthy way.