I had a working relationship with a woman who (let’s call her Susan), whenever I left a message for her to call me, would immediately ask “what’s wrong, what have I done”! I eventually asked her why her first reaction was always to assume something was wrong, or more to the point, why she thought she’d done wrong. Quite simply, it was her upbringing, whenever her father spoke to her it was to point out something she hadn’t done right :(.
We are who we are, to varying degrees, because of what we were brought up to believe by those in our lives - parents, siblings, teacher, boss, friends... Unless we are a truly independent thinker and can challenge these inputs (words and actions), many of us will come to adopt them in some shape or form. Bad enough, they can really knock ones self-worth and self confidence.
I know people who go out of their way to have people ‘like/love’ them because they were brought up believing they weren’t good enough. People who were ridiculed earlier in life for something, which they're now trying to hide or prove otherwise.
It might not even be ‘beliefs’, it could be someone’s actions, or even what they didn’t say! I know a guy whose father is a grumpy, mean man, has been his whole life. I don’t know why, he just is. His actions have seriously impacted on his family throughout the years, now grown men with their own families. His children feel worthless.
It can take a lot to undo the harm such beliefs may have caused; it may even require external, independent, expert help. There will be some for which the belief/s is so ingrained that it may remain.
And by no mean is it always bad. I know lots of people who are confident and purposeful, with an abundance of self-worth - they were brought up believing they were worthy and deserving. A huge accolade to those influencers in their lives. We need loads more of these people in the world. Refer also to point 4 below.
Turning Your Beliefs Around
This is where positive, self-belief is key.
1. Identify the culprit*
Are there things you think, say or do that you wished you didn’t, or wished were different? In the example above, I know Susan wished she wasn’t so paranoid, always thinking the worst.
Often identifying the culprit can be the most difficult part, we might not even realise it exists!
* by culprit, we're not talking about a person, but the belief or reason for the belief.
2. Recognise it for what it is
Consiously or subconsiously you have adopted someone else’s beliefs, not necessarily your own. Others are entitled to their beliefs but that doesn’t mean you have to buy into it. Tell yourself, “it simply isn’t true”, “was a long time ago”, “I’ve changed”, “they’ve changed” etc.
3. Deal to it
Concentrate on what is true, good, great about you. Really focus on your great qualities, one at a time. Believe in them. Think them. Say them. Act on them. Repeat.
You’re not going to unravel years of an acquired behaviour or attitude by thinking/saying/doing it once. You have to re-wire your brain to what is real. It's going to be hard work and requires a commitment.
4. Your own beliefs
Now think about your own beliefs and what you may be passing on. I heard an example this morning where a woman constantly referred to her daughter as “thunder thighs” and has attempted to repeat similar behaviour with her grandchildren!!!
As mentioned, some beliefs may be so ingrained that you really need the advice and guidance of an expert to see your way through, a counsellor. Or first off, you could try talking to a family member or a close friend.
Break the shackles! You will be so wonderfully free when you do. I know, I did.