Why Does Everything Make Me Feel Bad About Myself?
Last week I talked about automatic thoughts that our brain formed when we were so young we didn’t have the power of logic…and today I’m going to talk about how that impacts us now.
It’s easy to look at other people who we may admire or look up to, and think: “There’s no way she doesn’t feel good enough…” Because when we look at other people we can use our logical mature brain and clearly see how amazing they are. But when looking at ourselves, we can’t get past our old childhood brain patterns because our minds are used to seeing ourselves through this filter, and until we notice that the window is dirty, we don’t realise that unless we clean it all we are seeing is last decade’s scuzz.
So when we have early life experiences that are difficult or stressful, even if they don’t fall within the realm of “trauma” per se, our mind is still making this link between the stressful event and a negative appraisal of ourselves, because our young minds are tasked with understanding how things work without the capacity to see the bigger picture. So for instance, a young girl who goes to dance class and experiences competition and rejection and pressure to perform - even if she loves it and rises to the challenge, her mind will still interpret the stress as being her fault in some way and something that she must fix because of this inability for young minds to see the bigger picture.
When our minds make this false connection between something hard and it being our fault, this belief starts to become a ‘core belief’ of how we see ourselves.
Because remember - our minds are like computers - always trying to make links and pathways to understand the world around us…So once our brain makes that connection once, it will quickly find it again. Exactly like when you do a google search - the link that pops up first is the link that has been clicked on the most. Our brains work the same way. Once a pathway is formed, it is much easier to take that same pathway again, and again…and again.
So you see why we get stuck in this cycle! Once we have an established link between ‘hard things’ and ‘it’s my fault’ (formed before our mind has access to logic) this belief starts to impact everything. And not surprisingly, we start to feel really awful when hard things happen! Because it’s not just a “hard thing”, it's a reminder that we are a sucky human being.
Here’s where it gets even worse. Once our brains are locked into this pattern, we actually start looking for situations that confirm the belief we have that we’re not good enough! Our mind is scanning the environment for proof that this belief is correct because that becomes its base assumption. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So when someone starts treating us like crap, our minds filter this through the current operating belief system and come up with a positive match - “yep, environment matches brain’s interpretation of environment - great, algorithm is intact.” It’s much harder for our brain to change the algorithm than it is to reaffirm what it already thinks it knows. Innovation takes effort! Try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand you’ll see exactly what I mean :)
The more we search for environments that match our belief that we aren’t good enough, of course the belief gets stronger and stronger and begins to be the way we interpret all situations and experiences.
Doesn’t that suck!?
Now the good news is that we can change this! Once we know what our core belief is, whether it’s “I’m not good enough” or “I have to be perfect” or “no one really cares about me”…Once we see that, it no longer operates in control of us, and we can start making choices about whether we listen to this thought or not, whether we follow this very well-trodden pathway or forge a new one.
To start with, all we need to do it step back. take a breath, and think a new thought…
And once we do that enough times, we literally form a new connection in our brains. We re-write the search pathway, and all of a sudden our mind can gain perspective and have a whole new interpretation of ‘hard things’.
We all have core beliefs that keep us stuck. Mine is definitely I’m not good enough, and that I have done something wrong. It comes up all the time. But the difference is that now I know it and see it and so I can make the choice whether to listen to it or not. But before I really got inside my own mind and looked at my patterns, that belief ruled my life.
But it doesn’t need to rule yours! It’s just your mind trying to do it’s job. And once you start identifying where your patterns are keeping you stuck and how this is shaping your whole relationship to difficulties in your life, and that IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY, you can step back into the driver’s seat and be able to see yourself through the eyes of an adoring friend who totally gets how amazing you are and encourages you every step of the way. Wouldn’t that be a treat!?
Want to learn more? Check out my youtube video on this topic featuring the amazing Teigan Nash here: