You know those awful family conflicts when two people you love, usually your parents, are having a big fight in front of you and you just have to sit there cringing and watch them humiliate themselves as they hurl insults at each other?
Well, I was the “innocent bystander” of a fight like this last week. I watched a fight break out in a chat group I belong to where things got a bit heated when a few of my friends started arguing about a touchy subject.
It’s sad to say this but I felt like an “innocent bystander who got shot by a stray bullet” to be precise because the words thrown around in that heated argument hurt me a lot. The most hurtful comment that one friend made to another was this:
“What makes you think that you are qualified enough to teach others about XYZ?”
That comment pierced me like a bullet. I’m still trying to understand why I was so hurt by it. I think I took this comment personally even though it was directed to someone else. It felt like as if someone was confronting me, asking me what makes me think I am qualified to do anything that I do.
The comment triggered an inferiority complex in me that had been dormant for a little while. The irony is that my inferiority complex is completely unfounded and is just another device I created to sabotage myself.
People, especially women, do this all the time. We sabotage our friendships by disrespecting our friends, we sabotage our relationships by not being willing to compromise, we sabotage our careers by playing small and we sabotage our lives by not stepping up and rising to the challenge. A comment like “What makes you think you are qualified enough…?” is the surest way to trigger an inferiority complex and shrink a person down to a level far below her true being, discredit her capacity and rob her from her potential.
Stop giving yourself an inferiority complex
How do you then deal with a comment like this? Well, let’s just try to answer the question straight up, but before we do that, I would argue that we don’t have to qualify ourselves to others. We have to qualify ourselves to us.
What makes me think I’m qualified enough to teach XYZ? Well, I think that I’m qualified enough, and therefore I teach.
Responsibility vs Arrogance
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not just making a wild claim when I say that I am qualified to teach anything I randomly wish to teach, but I am qualified to teach certain things that I have the qualified myself to teach.
Again, this may sound arrogant. You might be asking, “OK Ritu, What do you mean by qualify yourself to teach? Who gave you the right to do this?”
Qualifying oneself to teach something, to do certain work, to take on certain roles and duties is a big responsibility that one takes upon oneself.
I’ll repeat that. Standing up and teaching something to others is a big responsibility and having the necessary education, training, and qualifications to do it right is a responsibility that the teacher has taken upon her shoulders.
And it is not easy.
In fact, it is really scary and you are constantly asking yourself, “Who am I to be doing this work? Who am I to be teaching this?” That was the biggest challenge that I had to overcome when I became an Atma Kriya Yoga teacher and it even had me crying in the bathroom in the middle of my teacher training. I kept saying to myself “But I’m not good enough! How can I possibly represent the teachings of such great Masters? Why me?”
Slowly, I had a revelation. I realized that my Guru Paramahamsa Vishwananda had personally approved my application and even though I didn’t trust myself to spread his teachings, HE did. He trusted me. He had faith in me that I would be a good Atma Kriya Yoga teacher even though my own mind was trying to convince me of something different.
So, what makes me think that I am qualified to teach XYZ? I do, because I have earned the qualification through training, testing myself, my own desire to learn and also to teach. Most importantly, I am qualified through the grace of my Guru because without his Grace, none of this would be possible.
Now that I have the “qualification” or self-approval and now that I have assumed the responsibility and consequences of doing my job as a teacher, I can answer that piercing question.