It is virtually impossible for anyone to get through life without struggling through a myriad of negative or irrational feelings about ourselves. We were exposed to these negative beliefs early in life. In most cases, these harmful “self truths” have been buried so deep in our unconscious mind we don’t even know our actions are driven by them. After successfully weathering the miasma of the holiday season, I was reminded of how our family connections can help regenerate these overwhelming feelings we carry about ourselves. This is why psychologists have contended for decades that our earliest experiences and traumas must be examined and healed to make progress on the road to our highest selves.
It is easy to scoff at the idea we must relive and heal an early childhood drama to get through feelings of depression brought on by a bankruptcy (for example). But unless we begin to comprehend the effects of the past on our psyche, we cannot limit the impacts of these beliefs on the present and future. The wake-up call always comes when an important failure in your life helps you realize the life you are living is not the one you once hoped you would be living.
A quick synopsis of my life helps explain the point. The youngest of three, I surmised I could never be as good as my two older brothers. In everything we did together, I knew I had to try harder just to keep up with them. From these early feelings of inadequacy, I became driven by the belief I would never be good enough.
Other events added to my negative self-belief inventory. In 1961, when my parents sent the three of us to the United States to escape Castro’s Cuba, our family in Miami did not meet us at the Miami International Airport. In fact, we never heard from them during the three plus years we spent in a Colorado orphanage waiting to be reunited with our parents. Not only was my belief of not being good enough bolstered by this elongated period of trauma and suffering, other negative opinions formed to accompany my main theme. These events enabled feelings I could trust no one and that those closest will abandon me in times of trouble.
I cannot understate how this idea has driven my life. Whether in my career or my athletic endeavors I have always been stimulated by an unconscious sense I must keep getting better, must continue to strive for awards and titles so I could prove to the world I am good enough and that I matter.In relationships, this belief drove me to accept all responsibility for whatever problems developed. From an unconscious sense of inadequacy, I gave away my boundaries to my partner in an effort to keep them. “I must try harder”, I figured, “it must be my fault”, so I acquiesced. People often describe me as self reliant, but they are mostly mistaken. I am sad to say most of my behavior has been rooted on these faulty ideas.
Unconsciously motivated by negative self-beliefs has been the human cycle for centuries. I believe Ninety nine percent of human beings today are walking around unconscious to their negative feelings and being driven by them. Fear, hatred, revenge and violence are the trademarks, but there are others.
Without knowing, our ancestors, parents and ourselves keep the cycle alive by transferring these feelings to our children and, thereby seeding the next generation with the same problem.
Think of it as an addiction. Alcoholics behave in a way that says alcohol is the most important thing in their lives.They continue choosing alcohol despite the pleas from their spouse and children. This tells their children they do not matter, only alcohol matters. Undoubtedly, the children adopt similar negative beliefs as I adopted. The same happens with ambitious parents whose job matters more than anything,
There is nothing wrong with trying to become the best you can be, but when striving for an achievement becomes obsessive, this is a sign that the person is trying to compensate for some hidden negative feelings. I can see in my own children how I transferred my negative beliefs onto them. In my efforts to fill the void of my lack of self worth, I put all my effort into building a successful career and being a good athlete. Without meaning to, I transmitted to my kids they were not as important. I wish I could change that now, but I cannot. However, by discovering the beauty of my self worth, I have been able to restructure a more healthy relationship with them.
One has to wonder if this cycle of negative beliefs is unavoidable. Perhaps these are the details of our earth school curriculum we must traverse during our lives to become our authentic selves. However, whether this is part of our lesson or not, there is one consistent truth in all of this, no matter our traumas, our soul does not want others to determine our life for us. Negative self-beliefs are instructions from others because they are our reflection of how we think others see us.
It is our human destiny to evolve into who we were meant to be, but the responsibility to do so is ours alone. But, if you persist ongoing on the direction driven by this negative self-trash talk, it is guaranteed that a life event will trigger an attack from within. You will know when this happens by the amount of emotional distress you will experience. You will fight it at first, but, eventually, you will have a choice to make, continue to rely even more on these old ways and beliefs or you will accept your truth that you are good enough, that you are worthy and that you have been given the ability to meet your challenges head on. Only then can you recognize your unique God given talents and nurture the creation of a greater good with them.
It is not always easy to identify these negative feelings that is why the help of a professional may be needed. I am a strong proponent of EMDR therapy, but choose what works for you. Erasing these beliefs from your mind is of utmost importance. They are worthless and are not serving you.
Call to Action
We are all immigrants! Whether we left a country for a fresh start in another, or whether an unforeseen life change has sent us on an unexpected path, this cycle of death and rebirth is at the center of our human evolution and can alter us in ways we don’t fully understand. If you are going through such a period, I can help. If your organization is going through a challenging phase or serves people whose lives are in flux, like immigrants, seniors, or communities that are unappreciated, I can help as well. The combination of years and experiences have molded me into a messenger uniquely qualified to write, speak and mentor on the subject of discovering the inner resource that will convert difficult transitions into positive triumphs. Check out my website for the services I offer and to subscribe to receive my weekly blog.