‘My one regret in life is that I wasn’t born as somebody else.’ – Woody Allen.
Those of us who suffered childhood trauma caused by our parents/primary carer are very likely to have received extremely negative messages about ourselves from these people – these messages may have been stated directly or implied and intimated.
Indeed, many of us were made to feel unwanted, worthless and utterly unlovable during the crucial stage of our development when we were forming our self-image.
In other words, we INTERNALIZED these messages which, in turn, may have led to us living all our adult life believing these messages to be true and also as being an accurate reflection of the essence of who we are ; this process can gradually erode, by a kind of drip-drip effect, and, eventually, destroy our self-esteem.
REPETITION COMPULSION :
Furthermore, if we had a bad relationship with our parents/primary carer when we were young, we may have found that we have, since, experienced a pattern of forming similarly poor relationships with others during our adult lives; for example, perhaps we have been unconsciously drawn to form relationships with others who are likely to abuse us – this can be due to what is referred to by psychologists as a REPETITION COMPULSION (an unconscious attempt to master our adverse childhood relationship experiences), leaving us extremely vulnerable to revictimization.
Naturally, this lowers our view of ourselves even further as it just serves to REINFORCE our belief that we are ‘worthless and unlovable’.
A FORM OF’ BRAINWASHING’ :
In effect, we were programmed and ‘brainwashed’, when we were young, into a forming a FUNDAMENTAL (yet FALSE) BELIEF that we are ‘intrinsically bad’ people (click here to read my article entitled : HOW THE CHILD’S BELIEF IN HIS OWN ‘BADNESS’ IS PERPETUATED‘).
Coming to fully realize and understand this is A VITAL STEP TOWARDS COMING TO VIEW OURSELVES IN A MUCH MORE POSITIVE, AND, INDEED, COMPASSIONATE, WAY.
An effective therapy (this has been backed up by many research studies) that can help us to do this is COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY (CBT) – click here to read my article on this.
It is also possible that having been indoctrinated with the belief that we are essentially bad, and having internalized this view, coupled with pent up rage about having been ill-treated in childhood, may have led us to make some significant mistakes in life.
However, we can lower the probability that we will repeat such mistakes by thinking about how we would like to change, in line with our now more positive view of ourselves (assuming we have worked at this), and then devise strategies as to how this goal may best be achieved.
It is also to point out that if we were conditioned to think ill of ourselves as children we may have found that, as adults, we have overly focused on our bad points whilst remaining oblivious to our more positive points.
Ways to help ourselves feel better about ourselves also include :
– cutting off contact with people who make us feel bad about ourselves
– associating more with people who make us feel good about ourselves
– taking up activities which make use of, and develop, our strengths
David Hosier BSc; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).