One of the biggest things I see in all of my clients, no matter what they are dealing with is the inability to truly see & honor the goodness in themselves and anything/everything they are doing.
I see it in the way that they constantly have a “feeling” that they should be doing more, being more productive etc., They pull back from doing things they want to do out of fear they will be judged as not good enough. They don’t give themselves opportunities to have good times & create memories, because they don’t look a certain way. They beat themselves up for not being the friend, wife or parent they think they should be. Their every thought or learning is about what they need to do better, improve… their lives are a constant “I’ll be happy when…”
Now I don’t say this from a place of judgment as I too have been there and on occasions still find myself doing some if not all of those various things. And, I have learned something different, how to use those thoughts to motivate me, rather than defeat me. So in the spirit of help, I will share some of those tools here, to see if perhaps they can help you too.
Let’s start with a basic example – the compliment. How many times have you received a compliment and just brushed it off because we think we’re not good enough for that compliment to be true. Because we believe we aren’t good enough, our actions and words start to reflect that. We distance from others, lash out, distract ourselves with food or drink, you get the idea. But how do we resolve this, that truly is the question. Like most things, it is really simple actually, but not easy.
I believe the starting place is to treat this as motivation, something to use for us to do something else, rather than against ourselves. I will use one of my own experiences as an example.
The old me would use a compliment to beat myself down, then when I ate to cover the feelings, I had something else to blame myself for, that in turn validated my belief that I wasn’t worthy of the compliment. Are you following this lovely catch 22 we create for ourselves?
So instead, let’s be curious and try something different. In my Narrative Therapy training we learned all about reframing, so that is what we are going to try to do here. We need to do just a little bit of other work first though. We need to look at the beliefs and meaning we have given this situation.
What do we believe about ourselves because of this compliment? Because of how we chose to ignore it? Because of how we treated others when we felt bad about ourselves? Somehow it always comes back to us being disappointed in ourselves, until we change our beliefs about ourselves. If we truly believe we aren’t worthy, have no value – we will never be able to truly accept the compliment and every time one is received, it will hit on that wound. Anything we do from this place – dieting, exercising, decluttering etc., will also not have value to us and will in fact serve to validate our belief about ourselves when our efforts fail, as they will, when starting from this place or belief of ourselves.
If that is true, then how is change possible? First, take a moment to see if you really believe those thoughts are the truth about you, or just beliefs that you have had so long, they became the norm? All we need is a little bit of space here, the possibility that those beliefs aren’t true and don’t explain everything about who we are, our meaning and our value. Then we can take the next step.
This is where the reframing comes in. What if we chose to believe that this “thing” we believe about ourselves has a purpose, rather than it being a “result”? What if we chose to believe, even if just for a moment, that this belief could serve us? It could propel us forward, we could use it as fuel to elevate us, rather than beat ourselves down? This is a new opportunity/starting place rather than a finish line. See the subtle reframe there? From this tiny bit of space you have just created, comes the real work.
- Take a moment to check in with yourself, just pause and notice what is going on with your feelings. Try not to judge yourself, don’t go any deeper with it, don’t make any meanings or explanations, just be present to it.
- Take a moment to check in with your body to notice any sensations you may be having. Again, don’t try to “figure” them out, just be present and aware.
- See if you can stay with that feeling instead of running away, shutting it down, eating, drinking etc.,
- See if you can shift your belief that this feeling needs to be avoided and is painful.
- See if you can see that you feeling this at all, is a good thing. That feelings are good to have.
- See if you can shift this to mean something good about that, ie: that because you care, you are a good person & are doing your very best.
- Look in the mirror and see if you can find a little space to smile, to acknowledge that you are doing your work, that you are a good person, doing your very best and so perhaps is everybody else.
- Once a day to integrate this into your life – if journaling works for you, write it down. If collages work, add a new picture every day. If is music, listen to a great song you love every time you have completed this.
- Find a way to remind yourself of these steps every time you feel self doubt, that you aren’t worthy, good enough etc.,
By starting to open to the possibility that feelings are ok, that you are doing your best, it opens up space for you to build a relationship with yourself and see the same in others. That they too are doing their best. If you can work on this belief, then it may in turn open up the space for you to believe what others may be telling you, about yourself.
Over time, you should notice a subtle shift in how you view yourself and thus how you believe others view you t0o. Then, I am positive that you can handle the truth about yourself – and that is that you are amazing. You deserve to be celebrated. You are skilled and competent or you wouldn’t be here. You have worth and value simply by existing, you don’t need to prove anything to anybody.
How would your world change if you could handle those truths? I think it is worth considering… don’t you?