Do you sabotage yourself for no good reason? Have you ever said, “Why do I do this to myself?” And then do the same destructive things over and over? If so, you may have a belief or a script running in your mind that you are not even aware of. Or you could be aware of it, but not know how to change it. You may not even know that it is possible to change.
For many years I had scripts running in my head that I never actually verbalized, but I let them color my thoughts and emotions. I can speak them now because I had to examine them before I could stop believing them. They went something like this, “I am adopted, my mom gave me up, there must be something wrong with me.” Or “My adoptive dad is an alcoholic, my adoptive mom is verbally abusive, there must be something wrong with me.” And of course, “I am fat, and I want to eat all the time, there must be something wrong with me.”
I had many more. But they were all used for the same purpose; to allow me to feel sorry for myself and to get others to feel sorry for me. This was the only way I knew to get the attention I needed and wanted.
For years, I was unaware these scripts ruled my thoughts and behaviors, they were so ingrained. And even though someone told me about them and that I needed to change them, I didn’t get the message until I read the book ‘Feeling Good’ by Dr. David Burns. That was in the early 90’s. It was my first taste of cognitive therapy and the beginning of the life I wanted to live.
Cognitive therapy was not a complete cure for all my problems, but it started me on the path of taking responsibility for my feelings. I learned that I created my own suffering with my thoughts. It took many years to delete all the scripts. But this was only because I had the idea that the process of psychological change was difficult, time consuming and painful. And even though I went to therapists and programs, I didn’t do the homework.
When I finally made the commitment to become emotionally and physically healthy, it was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I realized I was worth making changes and it became natural to want to change for the better. I got the courage to question my core beliefs and tell myself the truth about who I was. And the truth is this -I am a good and worthy person and my value has nothing to do with what anyone thinks about me, what has happened in my past or even how I behave right now.
Knowing this truth allowed me to begin to make a few good decisions. Making good decisions boosted my esteem and helped me make even better decisions. This helped me rise up even more. It’s like getting into an upward spiral. The more you do the right thing, the more confident you get about who you are, and the more good things you do for yourself. Then you start to reach out to help others and you almost forget what it feels like to be fearful, weak and full of self-pity.
There is always more than one way to accomplish what you want, but the best way is your way. Read, listen and learn from others, but sift through all the information and find what works best for you. You are worth it.
For list of cognitive distortions and ways to untwist your thinking, click here.
For a list of self defeating thoughts and counter thoughts, click here.
“We can put ourselves in an upward spiral with one belief. That belief is -Our value is inherent. It does not depend on our size, shape, color, talent, intelligence, financial or emotional status or past experience.”