Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on LinkedIn Connect on YouTube

Respecting Our Journey

March 28, 2010

This is a journal of recovery. You will not hear talk of being recovered. This is an ongoing struggle. I am supported by children who are my taskmasters in this area. They catch and duly chastise me, when I utter aloud the negative self talk that holds me back.

The inner critic, censor, or in my case, the prerecorded voice of parents saying I am not creative enough, artistic enough, pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough – all often after having been praised by others for great grades or an accomplishment. Why? Perspective. They didn’t want me to “get a big head”. Or perhaps it was that they recognized something that irritated them. More objectively it was likely they were dissatisfied with something that bothered them about themselves or each other.

cowering childAnd like any dependent child who believes adults are infallible – theirs was the last word; they were the authority. I recorded the message and spent a lifetime playing it back.

In a recent conversation with one daughter she related some of the negative self talk she hears. I was appalled. She like her sisters, each in a unique way – is bright, beautiful and accomplished. Did I give you that message?  Did I ever say that to you? “No”, she replied, “but you said it to yourself”.  I was sure I had affirmed and assured each of them and it was my own self abuse that undermined the message.

So what will banish that voice? First I had to learn to recognize it. My wakeup call came in a counseling session 25 years ago. I don’t know which in the litany of inadequacies I used but it was something demeaning. The therapist raised her voice (completely out of character) and sternly asked: “Would you let anyone speak to your child that way?” I quaked, certainly not!

Adopt the premise. No children, no problem; visualize a vulnerable child, friend or loved one. Would you let anyone put them down, undermine their self esteem, or murder their creative spirit? When you muster the rage, the defensive fight vs. flight response in support of that vulnerability – you are on your way. Not there yet: picture someone angry about anything, who then goes over and kicks the dog.

Think about reclaiming yourself – your spirit, your optimism, and your potential by actively fighting off the wielder of toxic words. Sadly, often ourselves.

When you repeat the message that you can’t – you can’t. When you become your greatest ally and supporter, your ideal parent, you can do anything.

Need a cheerleader? Work with me here. Engage. Talk about why this is so hard, no matter how sensible. Learn from the best parents and teachers. They love and accept the children given to their care. They don’t chastise or undermine, they encourage and empower; teaching them to explore and maximize gifts and compensate for or to overcome challenges. Good parents and teachers know no absolutes, only possibilities.


Comments are closed.