In the last lesson, we discussed the idea that cognitive-behavioral scientists say that usually what we think is the problem, really isn't the problem. When we continue to dig and try to find the root of the problem, it nearly always goes back to one question: Am I loveable? Usually, there is some deeply hidden reason why you don't believe that you're loveable. Often, there are events that happened in our childhood that cause us to believe that we're not loveable.
For example, I have a friend who struggled for years with feeling that he wasn't good enough. He had a good job, where he was the boss of a crew, and he proved himself to be a capable, intuitive, intelligent leader. He was also a leader in his church, and his community and people turned to him for answers because he gave really good advice. But even though he was successful and admired, he still struggled with feelings that he was not good enough.
When was he asked to look inside and ask the question "Why"? Why do you feel that way? He remembered an incident that happened when he was in the 2nd grade. He was struggling in school. The teacher wanted to hold him back a year and have him repeat the 2nd grade. He remembered things that his teacher said, and things that his mother said, and between those conversations, he decided that he must be stupid, and once that decision was made, he let it define him. Regardless of any success that he attained after that point, he still defended the idea that he was stupid. Therefore, he must not be loveable. The truth is that he wasn't stupid at all; it just took him longer to learn to read than average. He's an adult; he can read just fine. There is no need to let an event that took place in our childhood, define us.
In my case, I also struggled with feelings that I was not good enough. I needed to find the root of where those feelings came from.
Finding the root may not be easy to do. In my case, Since I had years of the experience feeling like I was not good enough and unworthy of love, I had plenty of evidence that I had gathered over the years, to prove that I wasn't good enough. I thought that I believed it because it was true. I didn't even know that there was a root to the problem.
One way to find the root is to try asking the 5 whys. With some questions, we know the answers, but for others, we think we know, but we are confused. The things that we think are the problem aren't really the problem. It is not because you're not smart enough, or not attractive enough, or not rich enough, or whatever. It is why you think that.
One way to discover the truth about why you think that is through journaling.
Grab a piece of paper and a pen. At the top of a piece of paper write, "I feel [and write what you're feeling], because…" and then just write whatever comes into your mind. When you can't think of anything else to write, lift the pen, and then thank yourself. Thanks for finding that, now let's dig deeper, and then put the pen back to the paper and begin writing whatever comes to your mind again. It took several attempts before I got to the answer that I felt like I wasn't loveable or worthy of love and belonging. I didn't think of it in those terms until I went through the steps to dig a little deeper.
But that still wasn't the root of the problem; I didn't know why I didn't feel like I was loveable or worthy of love and belonging. So I had to keep journaling by writing it like this, "I feel unlovable and unworthy of love because…"
Eventually, my journaling led me to an event from when I was six years old that rocked my world. The event may seem small to someone else, but for me, that was the seed that grew into lifelong feelings of not being loveable or good enough.
You may find one seed, or a whole garden of seeds and roots that need to be addressed. I know I've found several for myself.
After you've found the reasons, then the next step is to look at it from a meta-perspective. Meta means to look at something from a bigger perspective, to look at it from the outside.
For me, when I recall the events from when I was 6, if I were to try To remember it from the inside, from the perspective of a confused little girl, my only explanation was that I must be inherently flawed, there was something wrong with me that made me unlovable and unworthy of love and belonging.
However, to look at it from a meta-perspective, from the outside, as if I was watching these events happen to another little girl, would I come to the conclusion that this child was unlovable and unworthy of love and belonging? No, of course not. It wasn't her fault, it actually had nothing to do with her.
I had misinterpreted what was going on, and blamed myself. Children often blame themselves for things like abuse, or their parents' divorce, or just circumstances that they don't understand. They're just trying to make sense out of what is going on. Life is lived forward, but it is usually understood backwards. By looking backwards with a meta-perspective, I realized that my reasons for deciding that I was unworthy and undeserving of love were not valid. The root of my belief system was actually a misunderstanding.
However, just knowing the truth wasn't enough to change a lifetime of habits and beliefs. I needed additional tools to retrain my mind and create new patterns of thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and habits, and we'll be talking about those in the following lessons. Next, we'll learn about the value of a human soul.
In closing, I'd like to share a quote from author Mandy Hale, "Sometimes it takes getting pushed to the very edge before you can find your voice and courage to speak out again. Sometimes it takes hitting that rock bottom to realize you're done descending, and it's time to rise. Sometimes it takes being told you're nothing—being made to feel like you're nothing—to help you see that you are complete. YOU. ARE. ENOUGH."