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  • Writer's pictureLinda Buchanan

What You Tell Yourself May be Ruining Your Life

Updated: Feb 23, 2019

Stories you developed in childhood may still be guiding you, and often you're not even aware that it's happening!

Do you find yourself repeating patterns in life even though you have the best intentions to change? Do you struggle with feelings of insecurity of any kind? If so, it is probable that you are being influenced by a story that you developed in childhood. This story may still be guiding you, sometimes without your awareness, and it may be ruining your life! We develop ideas about how the world operates and our place in the world as we grow up. We then weave these ideas into powerful narratives which guide us in how to interact with our world and what to expect from it. Thus, you may be living according to a narrative written from a child’s perspective.

The narratives that we create are affected by the experiences we had growing up, the age at which significant experiences occurred and our innate level of sensitivity. These stories may contain false beliefs which produce ambivalence in our lives about how best to get what we need. Say, for instance, that you want to be married and have a family but you harbor the belief that you aren’t good enough or that people can’t be trusted. Consequently, you will experience two opposing needs: to have a family and to protect yourself from rejection. Your guardedness may actually result in people leaving which then reaffirms your fear. Sound confusing? It is and can have life-crippling consequences.

When you have beliefs that make it difficult to create the life that you wish for, you may also have developed symptoms such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse or eating disorders, just to name a few. I believe that most people’s thoughts, feelings, habits and behaviors make sense no matter how dysfunctional they seem in the moment. I often tell my clients that they make sense and that as we work together they will learn why their behaviors make sense. I use the concept of respecting the symptom. This does not mean that I am advocating the choice to use the symptom, but rather to study the symptom and the surrounding urges, thoughts, and feelings in an effort to learn from them. Thus the symptom can tell us where the “ouch” is. When you find yourself doing something that you later regret, see if you can determine how it makes sense in light of ambivalence.

One of the saddest things I encounter in my work as a psychologist is to hear about the painful experiences people have lived through early in life and then watch as they create the same pain in their adulthood due to previously formed false beliefs. The path out of this downward spiral is to become conscious of your story and begin reevaluating your beliefs so that you can have a life that is truly satisfying. I would love to hear from you. Please scroll down to the bottom of this page (past the banner of recent posts) to leave a comment.

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