How many of us have said statements like this to ourselves: “I’m not good enough. I’m so stupid. How could I have done that? What’s wrong with me? I am never going to be enough. It’s not possible for me.” Probably the majority of us. Why? Why is it that we are so quick to criticize, shame, to berate ourselves for mistakes, difficulties, or inadequacy?
Those self-deprecating statements are known as internal dialogue; internal dialogue is the inner communication and conversation that we have with ourselves on a moment-to-moment basis. It’s used to help us problem-solve, navigate through the world, and direct our behaviors. This inner conversation is critical, and human beings are the only known life forms with this ability. Cool, right?
This dialogue, this inner conversation, how we communicate to ourselves, is formed starting in childhood. As children, the way we learn about the world, how to navigate through it, and our place in it, is by observing and learning from the people around us, our caregivers, families, friends, teachers, and so on.
We watch what the people around us do, and because of our need for belonging and social acceptance along with the adaptability and retention capabilities of our brain at the time, we replicate the behaviors, words, even emotions, and minuscule mannerisms. We learn, through direct reward, consequence, or observing the reward and consequences of the models around us, who and how we should be.
How you might be asking, does this determine traits like perfectionism or deeper qualities like our sense of self-worth and value? If our primary caregivers show qualities like low self-worth, low self-belief, perfectionism, and harsh criticism, even if they do not direct that towards us, we pay attention, we see how they navigate through the world, and we imitate because it’s all we know. We love them, and we want their approval and validation and love, so we pay very close attention to them and everything they do and we begin to learn that “this is the way things are supposed to be done, this is the way I am supposed to be,” even if it is incorrect or harmful.
So, if your parents were harsh, critical, perfectionists or had low self-worth, self-value, or self-love, you picked up on it, and started believing those things about yourself! And, more likely than not, they even targeted this behavior and type of thinking to you; being more critical than supportive and encouraging, subtle comments about doing things a certain way or looking a certain way to make friends or “do it right.”
We take these messages, lessons, and experiences and we unconsciously allow them to shape the way we see ourselves, the way we see the world, and our place in it. We start to believe things about ourselves like “Mom didn’t like how I did that thing, she said I was wrong. I must be bad. I must not be good enough,” and we start to shape and direct our behavior to “try to be enough.” And events like these, aren’t a one-off instance, this happens throughout our entire lives and shapes what we see, feel, and believe about ourselves. And for the majority of us, we see bad, we see negative, we see unworthy, we see unlovable.
You might be asking, “How do I break through this? How do I unlearn what my parents and childhood taught me, and what I’ve continued to condition for 20+ years? How do I break the cycle?” No one wants to feel this way forever. No one wants to walk through the world feeling as though they are flawed, damaged, and unworthy. So, below are the very steps needed to begin fighting and changing this. If you follow these steps, slowly but surely you will start to shift the way you view yourself, and the world around you.
The very first step is to identify what areas of your life you are fighting for your worthiness and/or where you need to be perfect. These areas are good indicators of where you believe your value lies. Is it in relationships, finances, parenting, fitness, and health? What are the areas of your life where you find yourself fighting to be enough or hoping that others notice and give you validation?
Once you identify those areas, begin asking yourself questions such as “Why do I need to be perfect here? What would happen if I wasn’t? Who am I trying to be like? What am I telling myself will happen if I ‘finally’ can be perfect in this area?” These questions will help uncover the truth of what you are convincing yourself you need to be to “be enough and lovable.”
When you can learn to identify those areas, the next step is challenging yourself to break those patterns. I know, easier said than done, so start small! What’s one thing you can do today that’s good enough, without needing it to be perfect? What’s one area of your life where you are convincing yourself you aren’t enough, and how can you show yourself otherwise? This might be incredibly difficult at first due to how critical we can be of ourselves, but if you HAD to notice something to compliment yourself or recognize a positive attribute or thing you did, what would that be? What would you compliment a friend, lover, partner, or child on? Can you direct that to yourself? How can you challenge the beliefs you’re carrying, and who can you use as an example of someone who does that well?
This process will not happen overnight. This will be a journey you go through for the rest of your life. But the battle for worthiness will slowly, and gradually decrease as you build the knowledge, tools, and compassion to realize that perfection was never a thing you could actually attain, and the realization that you are doing the best you can with the tools you have at your disposal. You can always learn more, and make better choices and decisions, but your worth doesn’t change; you were always good enough.
You don’t have to do this process alone, connect with us so you can finally worth through these limitations and feel a sense of confidence and self-worth in yourself.
Click here to book a FREE call with me or email me to begin the journey.
You can do it, and we’re here to help