“I am not enough.”
“I am not supported.” “No one loves me.” “I am too much.”
We all have some negative self-talk that lives in us.
Almost every single person will tell you when they’re being deeply honest, that they don’t feel good enough or loved for who they are. These negative messages plague our daily lives and mess up our careers and relationships.
Negative beliefs that we have about ourselves present themselves in every relationship that matters. They arise in stressful situations – whenever things aren’t quite going the way we want them to. When our boss yells at us, when our kids get bad grades, when our partner forgets our birthday or there are dishes left in the sink, we are right back to thinking we are unlovable or unworthy.
Sometimes it even feels like life is conspiring to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.
We seem to keep attracting and recreating situations that reinforce these negative beliefs.
We are shocked when our partner does that SAME exact thing our mom did way back when, and we find ourselves once again feeling that SAME exact bad way about ourselves.
To make our lives better, we try to make sense of these negative thoughts, try to understand and figure out where they came from.
We blame our parents for having yelled at us, for leaving us when we were young, for having affairs, for fighting, for drinking, for calling us names, for telling us we were not measuring up. We remember specific incidents from our childhood, when we first felt inadequate, unworthy, unloved, and we re-play them over and over again in our minds, proving that we were unfairly done wrong, victims of unconscious, unaware, stupid parents.
We would love to eradicate these negative thoughts. We try thinking positive. We say affirmations. We attempt to forgive our parents and re-write our past stories through therapy and books. But as much as much as we try to change our experience in life, we feel trapped in these old patterns, resigned to feeling bad about ourselves forever. Life just reinforces our negative beliefs faster than we can un-do them.
But what if …
What if we were supposed to have these negative thoughts? What if it was inevitable and part of the human design? What if these thoughts were fundamental to our makeup and part of the perfection of who we are?
Let me explain.
It is pretty much impossible to grow up without the thought that there is something wrong with you. Think about it.
When we are children, we see from a child’s point of view. When I got in trouble for riding my tricycle far down the street when I was 4, I made up that I wasn’t enough and that it wasn’t safe for me to follow my heart.
But from the point of view of my parents, who had no idea where I was for too long a time, they were merely frightened that something terrible had happened to their little girl. I mistook their fear and upset as being a statement about my inadequacy – something they never intended to communicate.
Since then, I have felt like I was not enough many times in my life, and I must say, that insidious belief has benefitted me greatly. It has fueled my interest in education and personal development, it has challenged me to take risks and grow myself in ways I never would have imagined, it has sourced my deep compassion and love for other human beings in struggle, and it has been a great source of my humility and vulnerability in leadership.
My recurring thought of not being enough has even birthed a business where I encourage and empower people to see their beauty, and to have regard for the positive intent behind their flaws and negative beliefs.
If I had thought I was enough, or more than enough, I might have become an arrogant, boastful, heartless, unconnected human being.
I was working with a woman who had the unfortunate experience of watching her mother die at her own hand. In our work together, she discovered that her profound fear of depression and aloneness kept her strong and alive.
Another woman, who was raped as a young girl, now works for CPS saving young children from violence and sexual abuse. A young man who was lied to as a child has become one of the most intuitive and accountable human beings I know. In the end, each of their tragedies and corresponding negative beliefs birthed much-needed gifts.
Consider the possibility that your negative aspects are there to serve you as much as your positive ones.
They are meant to be here. They are your friends. Instead of trying to get rid of them, use them. Each negative belief carries a rich gift, not only for you, but also for the world.