I was brought up and programmed to believe in a number of ideas that have turned out to be untrue. These false beliefs led me to make various life and relationship mistakes. I didn't like making mistakes any more than you do, but it is from my mistakes that I've learned so much.
In this article, I'm going to discuss the four major mistakes that I used to make, and that so many of my counseling clients make before working with me.
I used to judge and shame myself unmercifully, although mostly unconsciously. Until I started to pay attention to my anxiety, stress and insecurity, I never realized how much I judged and shamed myself.
From my parents, who constantly judged themselves and me, I learned to believe that judgment was a motivator. "If I judge myself, then I will do better. If I accept myself, I will get lazy and not do what I have to do." "If I judge myself, I can get myself to do it 'right' and then others will love and accept me." "If I judge myself, I can have control over others' not judging me." These were just a few of the false beliefs I had about self-judgment.
Now I know that self-judgments create so much inner stress that it makes it harder to do well -- not easier. Now I know that people often treat me the way I treat myself, so the more I judge myself, the more others judge me. Now I know that my passion and creativity flow when I'm accepting of myself, and that self-acceptance creates an inward motivation to be all I can be.
Giving Myself Up
I was taught that the way to get love and approval was to please others -- to give myself up and be what they wanted me to be.
Now I know that giving myself up is a form of controlling others, and that while I might get some temporary approval, I never feel loved when I compromise myself. Now I know that when I disrespected myself so much as to give myself up for approval, others also disrespected me. Now I know that when I love myself and approve of myself, I also experience others' genuine love for me. Now I know that others often treat me the way I treat myself, so the more I love and respect myself, the more loved and respected I feel.
Competition vs. Cooperation
I never particularly liked to compete, but I was taught to compete for grades, for attention and for approval. I was taught that my value was in my looks and performance, not in my goodness, kindness, caring and compassion.
Now I know that there is far more joy and achievement in cooperation than competition. Now I know that I can define my own worth through my intrinsic qualities of goodness, gentleness, kindness, creativity, caring and compassion, rather than competing to be seen as worthy through others' eyes.
Controlling vs. Learning About Loving Myself and Others
Because love was conditional in my family of origin, I learned various ways of trying to have control over getting love and avoiding pain. Judging myself, giving myself up, looking right and achieving were all ways to control how my parents and others felt about me. But with all of this, I never felt inwardly safe, secure, lovable or worthy - no matter how much approval I got.
Now I know that self-esteem comes from learning to love myself and others, rather than from getting approval. Now I know that my sense of inner safety and worth comes from how I treat myself and others, rather than from how others treat me.
My life has improved dramatically since I no longer make these four life-and-relationship mistakes, and so will yours!