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Many of us learn at an alarmingly young age all the things that are “wrong” with us.
Our hair’s not the right color. Our teeth are crooked. Our bodies miss the mark. We’re too shy, or too loud or too emotional. Not smart enough, not chill enough, not confident enough.
Never good enough.
Once our enoughness tank has sprung that leak, we go on to master the habit of looking at ourselves and hating everything we see. We start to compare and envy and search for things outside of ourselves that’ll make us feel better.
In short, we learn how to lose ourselves.
But the great news is, as adults, we can find ourselves again.
That Programming in Your Brain
It’s been suggested by scientists that most of the thoughts we have in a given day are the same ones we had the day before, and the day before that. Why do we think the same thoughts over and over? Because we’ve been programming ourselves to think them, ever since we were those children and young adults beating ourselves up day in and day out.
Most of us weren’t aware, when we were young, that we were forming a belief system on which we’d operate for years to come. That we were creating the programming we’d have possibly for the rest of our lives if we failed to ever question it.
This is a great thing, if, as a kid, you programmed yourself to think amazing thoughts. But scientists also suggest that most of our habitual thoughts are negative. (I mean, if you think about it, you can probably identify some crappy thoughts you had about yourself today that you’ve been thinking since you were 14.) Needless to say, as we go about our days, many of us are operating on belief systems that don’t serve us—which is to say, one full of thoughts that make us feel like crap and ultimately give us results we don’t want in our lives.
“There’s Something Wrong with Me.”
In my coaching practice, my special interest lies in helping women who are stuck in painful indecision over whether they want to have kids. But I also coach with people going through all sorts of challenges. Regardless of what their struggles are, the women I work with find at the root of many a problem the same thought: “There’s something wrong with me.” It’s a belief they formed at some point that still runs strong under their radar. It’s a belief I myself have had to dig up and confront time and time again. Maybe you can relate, too.
Because the brain likes to be efficient and likes to find supporting evidence for our beliefs, the women I’ve worked with (and I) can find plenty of proof that there’s something wrong with us. The thought can easily feel true to us. In fact, our brains regularly filter out all the evidence that we are enough. Our brains are just doing their jobs, focusing on the things we’ve innocently told them to look for.
Sometimes we blame other people for how we feel, but the reality is, the optional thought that there’s something wrong with us is what makes us feel so crappy. And when we feel crappy, we turn to behaviors like obsessing over what other people think, arguing with people we love, withdrawing, emotional eating, overworking, isolating ourselves, people pleasing and shoving our emotions deep down, where they can fester in the dark.
In short, we continue to lose ourselves.
Overcoming the Lame-o Programming
So what do we do? How do we go about changing our crappy habits so that we can stop waking up and kicking our own asses every day?
I’ll share what I do. And I can tell you one thing for sure—now that I have these tools, I spend far less time thinking that I’m not good enough or that there’s something wrong with me. I know that you can learn these skills too, and get better and better at them the more you practice. So let’s do it:
1. Pay attention.
Notice the thinking behind the feelings. You’re going to start uncovering illogical beliefs you’ve been carrying since you were young.
2. Allow it.
Allow your thoughts to be there. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, rather than resist them, which is what most of us tend to do.
3. Accept it.
Accept that you’re thinking and feeling this way, and don’t judge yourself for it.
Evaluate all of the illogical beliefs with new eyes and decide what you want to believe now about yourself and your life. Decide to believe in things that make your life better. Things that are true.
One way to do this is to pay attention to what you’re thinking when you’re feeling joyful, peaceful, confident. When you’re feeling oh-so-good. These are your truths. Decide to think more of these things and to let go of any lies you’ve been believing since you were young.
Here’s a Start
You are enough. Just as you are. There is nothing wrong with you. You’ve probably heard this from many a Pinterest pin or Instagram post. Are you tired of hearing it yet? I hope not. I hope you hear it every day for the rest of your life.
And I hope you come to know that no matter what you’re going through, no matter how confused or stuck you are, no matter how scared, you are exactly as you should be and you are always enough.
I hope you practice believing new, amazing things until you really do believe them. Because like many important things in life, changing our programming, and thus our lives, isn’t easy—but you can do hard things. You really can.
And it’s totally worth it.
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