Depending on your story and life experiences, that question may feel loaded. It may have surfaced feelings of shame, embarrassment, disappointment, and loneliness. Or maybe you had the opposite reaction. Maybe you felt pride, confidence, and assurance. I wonder if the majority, though, felt uncomfortable with the question because of the answers swirling around inside.
For most of us, that question can feel threatening because it is tied to a negative belief we hold about ourselves. And to tell that version of the truth is exposing.
Consider the following and see if any resonates:
- I don't deserve love.
- I am worthless (inadequate).
- I am not good enough.
- I am insignificant (unimportant).
- I am different (don't belong).
- I am powerless (helpless).
- I am a failure (will fail).
- I am inadequate.
My guess is that one or a few hit something deep within. It touched your shame and you want to hide. We may not consciously believe these things. On an intellectual level, we can easily find falsehood in these beliefs. But on a deeper level, that intellectual argument hasn't traveled down to our hearts nor has it made its home there.
It's not a pleasant feeling to realize that part of our core self is made up of beliefs tied to shame. It's actually quite painful. But it is in this brutally honest place that we can amend those negative beliefs and cut ties with them.
Early painful and difficult experiences in our life become the lens with which we later filter other experiences. They are self-defining experiences. They are foundational on which our struggles in life rest. Early on, we came to believe that we are insignificant, we don't belong and we're inadequate and it colored (or rather, stripped) our world, how we see ourselves and how we are to approach people in relationship.
The process of diving into these pivotal moments in your story allows you to release yourself from the shame that has bound you. Dismantling shame's grip creates room to establish a new view of yourself. I've said it time and time again that this process is not for the faint of heart. My clients are some of the most courageous people I know; they are willing to intentionally look at their pain, to feel their pain, to grieve the losses they've endured. But it is here that they are opening a new world for themselves. A world that declares:
- I deserve love; I can have love.
- I am worthy. I am worthwhile.
- I am deserving.
- I am significant. I am important.
- I am okay as I am.
- I now have choices.
- I can succeed.
- I am capable.
Let's begin to be truth-tellers to the reflection in the mirror.