Have you ever been in a dark place and some helpful soul has suggested that you ‘be positive!’
It seems to make good sense. After all, who wants to wallow in negativity or worry? The idea of being positive is to turn our back on the doom and gloom, and focus on moving towards a happier and more upbeat state of mind.
So much of the self-help industry supports this philosophy. We are told that our thoughts dictate our life experiences, so it is essential that we remain positive at all times. Who would want to feel insecure, vulnerable or scared in the knowing that such emotions were only creating more situations to fear in our future?
That’s why so many of us have developed excellent strategies to cope with our negativity. We have learnt how to change our mindset, get motivated or distract ourselves through exercise, meditation or conversation with a good friend who knows how to drag us out of our pit of despair.
But what if your negative self-talk contains a special gift that your be positive attitude is masking from view? Sound a little far-fetched? If so, let me clarify this concept.
When you have a thought along the lines of “I’m not good enough“, where do you think such an idea comes from? Is it something that your mind spontaneously comes up with in response to an isolated and individual situation? In other words, when you have that thought, is it something that you have never considered before and that will never cross your mind again? Or is it a well-worn path that you have taken many times?
My guess is that your negative thoughts are never original. We all have beliefs that are our habitual pattern of reaction to triggers and problems in our external environment.
If you agree that your negative self-talk is not new, then it can’t be a fully authentic response to a particular event or experience. The truth is that those critical and judgmental opinions we have of ourselves don’t come from the situations we find ourselves in, but rather they exist within us, formed in our earliest years through the process known as conditioning.
When we think “I am not good enough“, we are linking back to an extensive personal history of all of the times we have missed the mark or failed to measure up to some illusionary standards.
When triggered, that old pattern of thought re-emerges: my relationship breaks up equals “I’m not good enough“; I get looked over for a promotion or get fired equals “I’m not good enough“; my child gets into trouble at school equals “I’m not good enough“; I am overweight equals “I’m not good enough“. When you examine your own life, what are your trigger points for thoughts of unworthiness or inadequacy?
If your reaction to such thoughts is fear and avoidance, you are missing a wonderful opportunity to heal a misconception that has been haunting you for years. Instead of ignoring or trying to escape our negative talk, turn into it and listen with an attentive ear and an open heart.
Because in that moment that you start to pay attention, an unconscious belief has been brought into your conscious awareness temporarily. This is good! Before it was influencing and impacting on the quality of your life without your knowledge. Now you are aware of it, you have an opportunity to do something with it.
These so-called negative thoughts and feelings are not something to be afraid of. We can treat them just as we would a frightened child that requires love, tenderness and compassion rather than anger or dismissal. Let the thought that you have been avoiding surface. Hear it’s message. Why does it think that you aren’t good enough? What evidence is it using? How did it come to such a crazy conclusion?
When you start to listen attentively, you will become aware of the illusion. Perhaps you started to believe in “I’m not good enough” when you failed a maths test or were last to be picked for a team. The origins of these thoughts are usually petty and trivial, and yet you have been continuing to carry that belief all of these years.
There is something liberating about turning into negative self-talk rather than running from it. When we are no longer being chased down by the fear of being found lacking in some way, we free up energy for something greater — the opportunity to follow our heart, to be of service to others or to make a contribution to the planet.
Awareness of your negative self-talk offers a doorway to healing the wounds of the past. Beyond that lies the unquestionable knowledge of your inherent worthiness. As you approach your mistaken beliefs with understanding, kindness and acceptance, the real truth will be revealed to you. You are always, all ways enough!
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