As an adult, I’ve had to work through a lot of things relating to my childhood. But one of the hardest has been allowing myself let go of all the negative and critical things I came to believe about myself because of the things that happened or were said in my childhood.
The hurtful words of authority figures and peers often play over and over in our head for years – even decades. And it’s not so easy to change your thought patterns. But it’s time to let go of those negative beliefs about yourself.
We come to believe that the negative things others have said to or about us represent who we are as a person, and we struggle so much to let go of those limiting beliefs.
But they don’t get to decide who you are. The only person with that power is you.
Where Do Your Negative Beliefs Come From?
To be honest, I probably couldn’t tell you where all of my negative beliefs originated. Sure, I can point to some specific instances that have stuck with me even to this day.
There’s the time my dad and his friends laughed at me when my preschool self proudly announced to them that I had a boyfriend. Then there’s the time that my actual boyfriend (two of them actually) told me that I was controlling and demanding.
There’s the times that I was picked on or laughed at by my peers in school or at work. The time my crush said he didn’t like me and that I was weird.
All of those things have contributed to how I’ve felt about myself over the years. But I think that when we really get to the heart of it, it’s maybe not so much the things that were said to us as the things that weren’t.
All those knowing looks your parents exchange when they think you don’t see. The way people roll their eyes or scoff at your excitement over things they don’t understand.
Or the way they look at you like you’ll never amount to anything and you’re crazy for even trying.
It’s all the things that no one ever says, but that their actions convey which, over time, build up inside of us until it becomes who we believe we are.
Why Does It Even Matter?
Your beliefs about yourself aren’t hurting anyone but you, right? So why does anyone else care what you think? Why is it anyone’s business?
I’ll tell you why. It’s because it doesn’t just hurt you. It hurts everyone you love. Because your thoughts about yourself become how you live your life. They become how your treat others and how you let others treat you.
Your thoughts determine what you teach your kids, whether intentionally or not. They define your relationships, your goals, your aspirations, your life.
And if you’re not careful, your thoughts can destroy all of that.
The reason I care is because you have something this world needs. You are meant for more. And I want you to reach your full potential so that the world doesn’t miss out on what you have to offer.
So How Do You Change Your Negative Beliefs About Yourself?
If you’re ready to shed those negative beliefs about yourself and begin living out of your true identity, there is a way…
Identify your negative beliefs about yourself
The only way to get rid of those negative beliefs is to first identify what they are. What do you believe about yourself? If you really thought about it, what are the thoughts that play through your head that keep you from taking positive action in your life?
- What do I believe about my appearance?
- What do I believe about my intelligence?
- What do I believe about my character?
- What do I believe about my abilities?
- What do I believe about my relationships?
If you can answer those questions, then you’ve identified your limiting or negative beliefs about yourself. Now all that’s left is to decide which one is the most crippling to you right now and choose to focus on correcting that one first.
Acknowledge your belief
Now that you know what you believe about yourself, it’s time to really face that belief. Think back through your life. Can you identify a point in time or a specific circumstance that led to the development of that belief?
Or maybe it was something that developed over time and there’s no one single origination point you can think of.
Who or what in your life has fueled that belief you hold about yourself? Is that person or thing trustworthy? Are they honest? Are they worthy of your energy? If not, consider why you have held on to this particular belief for so long? What is it that made this one stick?
Flip the script
In physics they say that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. And today you’re going to apply that to your negative beliefs!
Think of the negative beliefs about yourself as the action. Someone said or did something to or about you at some point in your life (or maybe several points in your life) that made you believe this thing about yourself.
Now take that thought and consider what is the true but positive counter-thought? That is what you are going to replace this negative thought with – your equal but opposite reaction.
Your negative thought (the action): I am too controlling and demanding. No one will ever love me the way that I am.
Your true but positive counter-thought (the equal but opposite reaction): I care very deeply for those I love and just want the best for them and us. The right person will appreciate that in me.
Do you see now? Both of these statements could be considered true about myself. The first one I’ve wrestled with for a large part of my adult life. I can be controlling and demanding.
And that’s something I’m working on. But the reason I struggle in that area is because I care very deeply. And that’s the positive thought I’m going to cling to.
Of course, this doesn’t let me off the hook for my actions if my actions are or could be harmful. You can’t just ignore problem areas in your life. They won’t go away just from thinking positively.
But replacing negative beliefs about yourself with positive ones will help give you the strength and courage to face your demons so that you can overcome those challenges in your life.
Find evidence to support your new, more positive belief
Have you ever heard that people can find evidence to support anything if they look hard enough? Well now you’re going to take full advantage of that.
You’ve identified and acknowledged your negative beliefs about yourself. You’ve flipped the script and rewritten them into true but opposite positive beliefs.
Now you need to find evidence to support your positive beliefs. It’s not enough to tell yourself one time that you believe this positive thing. That negative self-talk will come back over and over trying to derail you from your progress.
The next time you slip up or make a mistake or say or do the wrong thing, those negative thought processes will creep back in saying, “See, you’ll never be good enough. You can never escape.”
But that’s not true!! When those voices try to pull you back into a dark world, you’re going to need to have some evidence to back up your claims of your positive truth.
So look back over the last few weeks or months. What have you done or said that proves you are good? What evidence is there to support your positive belief? Lock that stuff in your memory!
Repeat it to yourself over and over and over again. Write it on your mirror. Put it on a note in your wallet. Stick it to your computer screen. Get that positive truth and the evidence to support it in front of your eyes as often as possible.
And then when that sneaky little serpent comes to try to drag you back to the dark side, you’ll be ready!
Rinse, wash, & repeat
You’ve come so far already! All that’s left now is to do this again and again. Repeat these steps with every single one of your negative beliefs about yourself and before you know it, your entire mindset will be changed!
Learning to identify, acknowledge, and change the scripts that play in our heads can be difficult. But it’s not impossible. Maybe it’s true that you have some areas you need to work on.
But that’s not the only truth about you. The real truth is that we become what we believe we are. If you fill your mind with negative beliefs about yourself, that will become your truth.
But, girl, if you fill your mind with positive beliefs about yourself, that’s who you will become!
The beliefs others have held about you in the past don’t have to be the beliefs you hold about yourself. You, and only you, have the power to determine what to believe about who you are as a person.
It’s not something you can change overnight. It took time to get to where you are now and it will take time to change. But keep practicing and don’t ever give up!
Learning how to reframe your negative thought patterns will change everything. And the world needs you and all the positive things you have to offer!