All right, I need a favor. I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to pause before you keep reading. Give your brain/body/heart a second to answer. Ready?
ARE YOU WORTHY?
I’ve asked a few people this question and they all said the same thing: Worthy of What? Did you ask that?
Let me give you the background before I take it deep. I’ve been working with a therapist for a loooooong time. This week we talked about core beliefs. Now, she used all sorts of fancy terminology but I’ll distill it to this:
Core Beliefs: Those beliefs you have about yourself deep in your soul. These beliefs are not words you run around saying or recognizing. These are the beliefs you operate out of without even realizing it. These beliefs are built early in life and we spend the rest of our lives reinforcing these beliefs. These beliefs are like the ego – they want to be right. They are very difficult to change.
One of my core beliefs is: I AM A DISAPPOINTMENT
That’s hard to realize. Hard to say. Hard to share.
The therapist’s next question seemed easy: What do you want to believe about yourself?
I want to believe I have self-control, I contribute to my family and society, I am productive, I am intelligent, I take care of my responsibilities, I’m kind.
She stopped me. Those are great character traits, she explained. Unfortunately, they are behaviors that are fed from outside of ‘self’. What do you want to believe about yourself that has no bearing on what anyone else thinks?
I decided that if I didn’t like ‘disappointment’ (and who would like that?), then I should want the opposite. So, I went home and looked up antonyms for “disappointment”. That did not help at all. Ninety-percent of the terms were validated outside self. UGH.
I kept thinking and came up with these:
Those all sound grand! NONE of them sound attainable!
Do you see my problem? All outside self!
Your ego wants to be right. Think about that for a second – we all want to win arguments. Sure, you may compromise or just give in. Yet, in your heart of hearts, you want to be right.
The same modus operandi operates with our core beliefs. We want to prove our core beliefs are true. Our ego will leap on any indication to prove your truth. Your ego will spin glorious stories from the tiniest nugget.
I have no magic words or magic pill. But one thing I can do is recognize when I’m operating out of a belief that I’m a disappointment.
For example, recently I sat down to play a game of cards. It was a partner game and my partner said, “I don’t want her, she’s stupid.” That’s painful for anyone. But when you have a core belief of being a disappointment, it was my ego’s dream.
You can imagine my body’s response – I almost choked on the hurt/anger/shock. Part of me wanted to lash out. But there was a large part of me that agreed – after all, that comment validated my core belief. My ego leaped on board and beat me with: “See you are a disappointment. No one wants to be around you. No one wants ‘stupid’ for a partner. And don’t think you’re only disappointing in card games. …. “
For a few minutes, I could not look at it rationally; I could not consider the source or the context. All I could do was hear the words over and over again.
By the time I got home, I was reeling. When I told my husband what was said, he laughed! He reminded me of all the ways that was a ridiculous statement. He reminded me that the context was a card game I didn’t know how to play. All I did was get mad at my husband. My core belief wanted him to jump on board!
It took several days to relax and process. If I’m completely honest, it took a visit with my therapist to handle. It was this scenario that helped me realize my core belief needs some attention, some changing.
I’ve been challenged to recognize when I react to something that taps that belief. I noticed one today – I’m in a writing critique group. The entire point of the group is to give feedback so I can improve my writing. Today, I got some negative (but helpful) feedback. For several long minutes, I felt physical pain and an increased heart rate. My core belief – that horrible bruise in my soul – was tapped! “You can’t be a writer. You’ll just disappoint yourself, anyone who reads your crap …”
Just noticing that pattern helped me reframe, diffuse, relax. I don’t yet know how to begin to change the belief. Surely recognizing its power over me is the first step.
One of the ways I live the “I am a disappointment” belief is to be hyper-productive. If I get a lot done, then I can’t disappoint, right?
Another way is to say “yes” when I should say “no”. Saying “no” is disappointing, right?
I buy things I don’t need. Last week I spent $200 on organizational goodies. Maybe I needed one thing. I bought 5. I did this because I didn’t want to disappoint the cute young girl who sells this stuff.
I’ve signed up for classes that I’m not interested in taking because I don’t want to disappointment the teacher.
Get the idea?
I’m going to have to pay careful attention to myself. I believe that if I can catch myself living out of a ‘disappointment mindset’, I will be able to make some real life changes. These life changes will hopefully weaken the core belief rather than reinforce it.
Of course, we don’t have one core belief. We have several. I can’t name any of mine right now – I’m too focused on this one. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, my mishaps, my successes!
What core beliefs do you have? How do these core beliefs impact how you live your life? And, if you are a parent (especially of a young child) what beliefs are you instilling in them?
I used to say these exact words: “That A is wonderful. I’m so proud of you.” Those sounded like great words to me. But, if an A makes you wonderful, what does a B or C or F say about you? Food for thought.
In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....