Many of us have heard that we are our own worst enemies. While we want to do and be the best, many times we fall short of our expectations. Many times we feel inadequate, yet we receive feedback from others who don’t perceive us as inadequate at all.
The reason we focus on our shortcomings is because of the negative messages we continually tell ourselves: you’re dumb, you’re lazy, you’re a troublemaker, you’re wrong, it’s your fault. Our lists can go on and on.
What is interesting about these messages is that we have been taught and trained to believe them—yet they are all lies. All messages that we are naturally born with are always honoring and respectful, yet we have been taught to believe these lies to the point we attempt to prove their validity every day.
Children are taught these messages directly and indirectly at a very young age by being told they are bad, dumb, lazy, etc. Many people find it difficult to recognize where these messages come from because they may not have been directly spoken. Some of these messages may have developed from a glance, glare, or cold shoulder given that children interpreted in a negative way because they had no information that told them differently. As children grew, they took these messages on and believed them because they were coming in some fashion from the most important and intelligent people in the children’s lives: their parents and caregivers.
Many people find it difficult to believe that these messages are not true, which makes their path to recovery more difficult. These messages undermine opportunities to create positive change because they have been integrated into their lives to the point these are the only messages people can hear and know. When given the opportunity to hear and receive the true messages and positive qualities they possess, they tend to ignore and justify why these positive messages and qualities do not exist in them.
When a person is ready to work through these negative messages, it requires self-reflection and opportunities to explore the underlying feelings that get reinforced when they buy into the messages. When people can recognize the feelings, they can begin to work with those feelings to help the negative messages lose their power. This allows the underlying truthful messages to become more apparent.