“I just feel like something is missing.”
While that is an exact quote from a young adult I was once counseling early in my ministerial career, it’s a theme that would be repeated in many counseling sessions by a rather large variety of people.
Even the most well-adjusted people seem to have at least a tiny sense that there should be something more to life – and, if not to life itself, at least to their lives.
This feeling of “something is missing” is a common theme in people’s lives. I’ve come to think of this common thread of life “as the “Unbearable Inadequateness of Being.”
Typically, it starts as a general sense of “off-ness” – a sense that something is missing. Over time, people tend to become more cognitively aware of it and its persistence – and it begins to hurt.
More times than not, most of us can’t actually name what it is. We just know that it is there – and it hurts. For some it hurts a lot, for others it’s more of a bother than it is anything else.
There are a lot of reasons for the Unbearable Inadequateness of Being. Some are emotional, some are based on our personal experience, some are shaped by the need to “fit in,” some are situational – frankly, there seem to be as many reasons as there are people who sense this incompleteness in their lives at one time or another.
The Unbearable Inadequateness of Being leads me to believe there might be something about being human that causes us to gravitate to that general sense of “off-ness” at times. There must be some common element in each of us that, even in varying circumstances leads each of us to have that feeling of “something’s missing.”
Frankly, folks much more skilled and learned about this sort of thing than I am have tried to explain the phenomenon; but, I have developed a theory for the reason behind the Unbearable Inadequateness of Being … as well as a cure.
It seems to me that we each have this sense there is “something more” to us than most people see.
Some people spend a lifetime waiting for someone, even just one person, to look into their eyes, into their being, and see that something more — and to recognize how special it is, to celebrate it, to value it over all of our faults and failures.
We long to be loved unconditionally.
We long to not be so invisible any more – even if it is just to that one person.
Love has this curious ability to see someone as they are and as they could be, all at the same time, and manages to care deeply for them because of both. It sees cracks and flaws, not as cracks and flaws, but as results of the path that created the person. That doesn’t necessarily make those things good; they just are no longer strong enough to override love because love sees that “something more.”
The ability to see the “something more” in a person goes too far when it keeps someone in an abusive relationship. But, absent of abuse, love is the cure for the Unbearable Inadequateness of Being.
A desire to be loved unconditionally because someone, even just one someone, sees that there is “something more” to us than most people see, is the common thread of humanity.
Lack of it is the cause of many a woe and, as I’ve said, the presence of it is the cure for the Unbearable Inadequateness of Being.
The interesting thing is that when you love someone unconditionally, it also helps negate your own feeling that “something is missing,” (but only a little), and the positive feelings are strongest at the beginning. Over time, if you aren’t receiving the same love, that lack begins to underscore what is missing for you.
To further complicate things, we sometimes hear that we have to learn to love ourselves before we can truly love someone else. However, the reality is that frequently it is in being loved unconditionally we learn that we are truly lovable.
Here’s the thing: love is complicated. We get really messed up about it. We sometimes fear to fully express it. We let societal expectations and standards get in the way of telling people we love them.
So, here’s my challenge – live into love.
Will you get hurt?
Hell, yeah – sometimes badly.
But the alternative is to spend your life mucking about in the Unbearable Inadequateness of Being.
Don’t you deserve better than that?
Hell, yeah, you do.
So risk it.
Risk loving deeply and openly.
Be it romantic or friendship or compassion – do it with reckless abandon.
Recognize the “more” inside someone else, is the same “more” that’s inside you wanting to be recognized and loved; and, make the choice to risk opening yourself up to it. Let them know that, to you, they are not invisible.
One way to start is to simply tell them. Make sure they know you love them. Yes, that can feel a little uncomfortable at first, but it matters – not only for them, but, as I mentioned, it matters for you too.
One simple way to do that? Share this article with them. Try this:
“I read this and couldn’t help but think about you. I love you.”