Often times we face the same unpleasant situations in life. Sometimes these are draining and dramatic relationships, similar kinds of disappointments or failures.
We start wondering, why we always end up in the same drama. We start beating ourselves up, looking for what is wrong with us. Our inner voice in these situations is everything but kind. We blame ourselves for not being good enough, not earning success or a loving relationship. The negative kind of self-talk is even so established sometimes, that we don’t realize doing it over and over again. We would never ever talk to a friend like this after he or she failed a challenge or is devastated by a breakup. We would offer support, kind words, and comfort. But our self-talk often is surprisingly harsh.
We believe what we repeatedly tell ourselves
If we know how our brain is functioning, we get an idea of how destructive we treat ourselves. The consequence of our repeated self-talk is that we believe what we tell ourselves. What does this mean? After some time we believe, that we are not good enough, not pretty enough and not intelligent enough. But even worse, we start to act, based on these beliefs. The same thoughts create the same self-talk which results in the same behavior and the consequences of this behavior follow as well: failing relationships, job challenges or diets. We create our lives based on our beliefs.
Causes for “Self-bullying“
The deeper cause for this kind of “self-bullying“ often lies in childhood. Some children grow up with the message to be loved upon conditions like a good performance and marks or being nice. Parents punish them by love-deprivation if they don’t follow the rules. These kids never have the chance to learn the difference between “being“ and “doing“.
What do I mean with that? As a base for a healthy development, we need the security that we are perfectly okay as we are. This doesn’t mean that we won’t learn and develop, but it means that love is not tied to conditions. Parents don’t have to appreciate everything their children are doing. It’s part of growing up that children break something, hurt somebody or make wrong decisions. But it’s essential for kids to receive two messages in regards to their person and their behavior. For instance: “It was a bad idea what you did, you should apologize for it because you hurt someone. But we still love you as much as we did before”. Many parents struggle to bring this message across. But to know that we are loved even if we did a mistake is the deep root of our self-confidence and self-love.
We act based on our beliefs
Later in life, we act, based on our beliefs. When we are convinced that we are unable to do something, we probably won’t be successful with challenging projects. If we learned, that we have to earn love, because we are not lovable as we are, we act differently in our relationships. Even worse, we often choose a partner who expects us to prove our love, because that’s exactly what feels familiar to us, even if it creates a lot of drama and pain.
If we are adults, it makes it easier to know, that our parents themselves were only able to act, based on their own experiences as well. Sometimes they experienced being scolded by their parents for their “inability“ or being “stupid“. That’s what they, unfortunately, pass on to their kids as well.
In addition, the value system of our parents doesn’t need to match ours. In many families, kids are expected to study law or medicine, take over the family business, get married and have kids. The clear message often is that they are a family failure if they disappoint their parents expectations. But we all have the right, to make our own decisions, to create the life we want to live and which makes us happy. It’s not our job to make our parents happy and to fulfill their dreams (1).
We have the choice
But even if we didn’t experience growing up, knowing we are loved as we are, we don’t have to be a victim of our past. We have the choice. We are responsible for our thoughts and actions.
Deciding to strengthen the parts in us, which need it, can change our lives. Because being a victim has – besides all negative consequences – one big advantage: We seem not to be responsible for what we do, which often keeps ourselves suffering instead of influencing our future by our own actions. Changing this point of view and starting to feel responsible requires to be brave but includes the great chance to become happier and to escape our drama loops.
We need a simple message
The first step seems to be too simple to be true. But our brain works in a way that it believes what we tell ourselves repeatedly. This knowledge we can use to our advantage.
We need a positive message to tell our brain what we‘ve missed in the past. “You are enough“ is such a simple and powerful message (Marisa Peer, 2).
Write the message “You are enough!“ wherever you can read it several times a day. You should choose very obvious spots to benefit from the power of this message as much as possible. You can write it on your mirrors in the bathroom, set a reminder on your phone, write small notes, place a note beside your bed. Just use your imagination on how to make it work best for you because you have to overwrite the old and negative program which was running for years. To make this happen, some persistence is needed.
Believe in it, try it! Every one of you is unique, wonderful and lovable, just as you are.
(1) Of course, they are our parents and they are an important part of our lives and we should appreciate what they did for us. This is nothing I will question. But still, we have our own lives and have to fulfill our dreams.
(2) Credit to this simple message with an overwhelming success goes to Maria Peer a famous British Therapist.
If you want to hear more from Marisa Peer, I strongly recommend this talk: