Don't Let It Be Another Method of Self-Harm
As a practicing psychologist in the Clinton and Jackson, Mississippi Metropolitan area, I often see people who come in with a list of all the negative things they see in themselves. They focus on how they feel they aren't good enough, or how they think others perceive them as not worthy of a relationship with them. Their self-confidence is so poor that it interferes with their friendships and their professional goals.
Recently, I read a quote by Nathaniel Branden which shows the importance of self-judgment. He said:
"Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important
than the judgment we pass on ourself."
From what I get from this, if we don't view ourself as valuable, then how can we expect others to view us otherwise? Why is it that there are those who only see the "bad" or "negative" in themselves?
As a therapist, I am inclined to see this pattern of negative "self-talk" as something we learn as we go from one stage of our life to another. No one just wakes up one day with the thought "I'm worthless". The people and events we encounter help to form that opinion for us.
Many children grow up in a home without nurturing or acceptance. They are viewed as an inconvenience. They don't hear that they are good and valued.
One of the most harmful situations is the home where one is made to be the "scapegoat". Whatever is wrong, it is their fault. I've had adults tell me that they were told "If I hadn't got pregnant with you, I could have had a career." That child wasn't responsible for the pregnancy. It was the actions of the mother and father who crated him, yet he lived with the idea that he was the reason his mother was not what she dreamed for herself.
In other instances, the experiences while growing up gave a negative message because nothing the child did was right or good enough. They were patterned in an "expectation to failure". While a nice "good job" or "I'm proud of you" would have gone a long way in building self-confidence and self-worth, many parents, as well as teachers, and other influential people in a child's life fail them by not taking these simple steps.
The work setting can be a hotbed of negativity. There are those who are eager to climb the ladder to success regardless of who they trample along the way. Taking credit for the work someone might do, blaming them for something they did not do, or putting them into a position to fail can cause negative self-judgment. Soon, the feeling of defeat can be felt.
Even in working with couples I see this negativity. One partner, unwilling to see their own failings, criticizes anything the other partner does. Scapegoating leads to negative self-talk.
People come to therapy when the pain is too great for them to handle alone. They want a solution, and many times, therapy starts with looking at the messages they have received which gave them their belief that they are not good enough. In therapy, we go through situations to help them see that they may not be responsible, and that the message they received is faulty.
When the negative self-talk is coming from their own actions, it is important to help look at how they may be sabatoging their own life, what the goals are, and if the goals are realistic for them. Coaching is important in this type situation to help them find appropriate goals and methods to achieve. A favorite saying of mine is that I can't fix you, but I can help you develop a new instruction manual to do it yourself.
I often have people do a daily inventory to look at the positive in their life. Because they have been trained to only look at the negative, people fail to see the good in themselves. I dare say that there is more good than bad. It is OK to recognize that and give oneself an "attaboy" or "good job" every once in a while.
Negative self-judgment can be changed. Many times it does take a competent therapist to help break the cycle of negative thinking. If you are dealing with harmful self-judgment, seek help for yourself. I will be happy to talk with you about how you can change to a positive self.
Dr. Nona Owens
580 Springridge Rd.
Clinton, Mississippi 39056
Providing individual and family therpy for children and adults in the Clinton, Jackson, and Vicksburg areas to help heal the pains of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. As a psychotherapist, I treat anxiety, depression, and family issues. I also provide marriage and relationship counseling.