I am writing on this subject again because it keeps coming up in the process of helping people to get past those negative default positions. It is one thing to recognise that someone feels anxious or depressed but how do you get past the root of those feelings – which is a negative view of themselves – when they are so deeply entrenched? We can talk about many individual situations that become expressions of that negativity but how can we change that underlying view that does so much harm?
Imagine you live next door to a young family. There are two little girls in that family. One is outgoing and happy and the other is quieter and more reflective. Clearly the parents favour the outgoing child and relate well to her. Family life is good - but not for the introverted child. She is completely neglected. This is difficult for you to understand as you look on because the parents are perfectly decent, loving and involved people. What you do know is that the neglected child is going to become resentful, is already feeling devalued, and that problems are being stored up for the future.
We have often used the analogy of our two temperaments being like those two sisters. It is common for our introvert to be almost totally missed. It is very difficult to face that full on because our parents may well have been loving and kind so to hold them responsible for our struggles seems unkind to say the least. But this is not about apportioning blame – rather about understanding patterns in order to know why we feel as we do about ourselves.
As you watch the quieter girl’s life unfold next door you will completely understand why she struggles with confidence, why she goes in on herself, why she constantly questions and doubts herself. You will see it clearly. Why can’t we see it clearly when it applies to us? You know that little child is a lovely child with a wonderful capacity for life. You can see that the way the child feels about herself is not going to be accurate reflection of the person she is – but we still believe the negative view of ourselves. Many people come into this world feeling negative about themselves by nature so I am not saying that the nurture I am writing about here is the whole story – but it is a powerful factor.
How are we going to change this negative view? It is easy to know these things in our heads but quite another to live in the truth. We can start by being open to the possibility that the way we feel about ourselves is wrong. Deeply wrong. Wrong in every sense. Wrong because it has never been true. You have always been who you are – just like the little girl next door. The breakdown has come in the failure of others to communicate that sense of value – for whatever reason, including the possibility that they tried and you were already protecting yourself. We have to let it register at the deepest level that the view we have carried for so long about ourselves is completely inaccurate – and then open the door to the possibility that the truth might be good and positive and that we might just be alright! Every time that negative view emerges in our thoughts or in a practical situation, use the situation to remind yourself that you are alright rather than confirmation that you are not. Recognise that the way you see yourself is wrong, remove the negative view, receive the truth about yourself and replace the negative with the positive. Keep doing it until the new way of thinking and feeling becomes a new way of living.