If you have negative beliefs about yourself, did you ever stop to take a look at how they got there in the first place?
We all have beliefs about who we are and what we are like. However, we were not born with these beliefs. So, how did we get them? Well, one of the most common ways is by what we are told about ourselves by others when we are young – especially by important grownups like parents and teachers. Now this telling can be verbal or nonverbal, and for our own sanity, it is important that our beliefs match what we hear and see.
In other words, if parents tell a child they are smart and funny but they seldom laugh at their jokes or really listen to them, and they don’t pay much positive attention to the child’s accomplishments, their actions will have far more weight than their words.
Now, that weight, or sanction, is important. Because it is not until you give sanction to someone else’s message that you really take it in and make it a part of yourself. If you are a little kid and your parents tell you that you are “clumsy” or “slow” enough times, and they treat you like you are clumsy and slow, you will take that in and give it sanction. You will believe yourself to be clumsy and slow. You will make clumsy and slow a part of your self-image, and sure enough, you will start to act clumsy and slow.
Fortunately, once you are grown there are things you can do to deliberately change those parts of your self-image that are negative. If they were learned, they can be un-learned. And then we can learn new things about ourselves – things that are closer to who we really are. Beliefs are not permanent parts of you, if you don’t want them to be.
Did you know that March is National Optimism Month here in the U.S.? Maybe it’s because spring is on its way, and the days are noticeably longer. We’d like to believe that the snow and rain are in the rearview mirror. Whatever the reason, let’s make a conscious effort to notice the negative – comments, thoughts, situations – then make a conscious effort to make a 180-degree turn to the positive.
A noble goal for March, all over the world, don’t you think?