It was the Fall of my Senior year of high school when I heard someone tell me a friend of mine’s parent had described me as “backward.” BACKWARD?! I had felt the rage inside of me develop out of the piercing aching feeling that deflated me and question how I saw myself. I quickly became defensive and said, “How could she say I was backward?! I would say quiet but NOT BACKWARD.” That sounded to me like awkward and that was NOT how I wanted to be defined.
Now as I type this, it sounds so ridiculous. Why did I let one word spoken by someone who barely knew me to be my blockade and resurface as my inner critical voice for so long? Had I been strong enough in myself to not believe it, I would have brushed it off and explained it as their problem, not mine. So it didn’t start there. It started earlier in Junior High.
Junior High was a time in my life where our class size quadrupled. Also, it seems everyone spoke bad about other people and I was over-concerned with being judged. It took a lot to feel safe with someone in order to share my thoughts. Due to my silence in groups, I became labeled “quiet” in a way that seemed like a bad thing.
Recently while reading “Shining Freely” by Josie Muterspaw, I realized I need to “let go” of these labels that have been stuck in my head.
“The truth is, what you don’t let go of won’t let go of you.”
“We kill our joy, our destiny, our freedom, and our passion when we chew on the things we were meant to let go of.”
“Our emotional experience can be clouded by past hurts and then the fear guides our perspective instead of truth. ”
She talks about how decades can go by where we are stuck in those old hurts.
I recognize how I have been running away from that person in high school and have been overly driven to prove all those people wrong about me.
I went off to a college where no one knew me so I could start over. Throughout my journey for redefining who I was, I held onto the security of family members who saw something in me as a child. Teachers who saw I was smarter then I thought. Professors who taught me listening was a strength that could be used for sales to make money. Leaders who shared their struggles of timidness and inspired me to see the person who I could become. I had a mentor who coached me out of my comfort zone and helped me discover how I could be brave and a high performer in sales and management. They all helped get me to believe in myself and enabled me to accomplish what I sought to accomplish.
While that ambition and inner motivation have helped me overcome a majority of the insecurities, I let the list of accomplishments take over and be my source of where I found value in myself. Rather than confronting the source of the pain, I have used it as a driver. Yet while running from who I was, I lost sight of the beauty within my own unique purpose.
Over the past couple of years, I started to hear things that moved something in me. I wanted others fighting the same battle NOT to feel the same self abuse.
It wasn’t until I started my spiritual journey at Southbrook Church and got certified in Pastoral Counseling where I gained a deeper understanding of myself and how many successful others struggled with negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy. I have become more aware of the roots behind the self-talk along with the practices needed to be a healthier more joyful version of myself. I started to listen to the “significant events” that started occurring in my life journey. Those were things that stir emotion inside you.
What I have learned has developed a spiritual awakening within me that has made my inner voice want to shout out to the world everything bottling up inside me or held secret to those closest to me and use it as a way to make a difference in the world. My battle to do that first starts with facing that inner demon. For when I change the words of the inner voice from:
“I am not enough.” to “I am worthy.”
“It doesn’t matter what I think.” to “My opinion is worth hearing.”
“People are going to think my ideas are weird.” to “I do have a unique perspective to offer that is good.”
I then speak in a way that shows I believe in myself and then I do feel I am heard. I don’t feel awkward at all unless I start listening to negative self-talk, become self-conscious and clam up. With positive affirmation practice, I have recently overcome one major milestone.
While I have more work to do to be more consistent, I have a strong desire to use my story of perseverance and overcoming feelings of unworthiness to give hope to those who don’t believe in themselves. I am so thankful for the people in my life who have inspired me. I also need to forgive the people who did not realize their painful words would have such an impact on me.
My vision is to utilize the lessons I have learned and multiply positive impacts on others. To let go and tell those inner ugly words, “Get out of my way.”
What is it that stops you?
Two experienced counselors, Jeffrey Stokoe and Denise Ashworth, have helped people by getting people to listen to those negative voices. They recommend to write down what they are saying. Recognize the common themes. Then think back to the earliest memories and identify what it is that ignited them. Then start asking yourself, is that really true? Think of all the times where it wasn’t true. You will start seeing the light and realize the lies you tell yourself. Those lies that stop you from your true potential.
Resources: If you struggle with self-esteem and inner critics, please look for the True Profile.
Also see upcoming retreats at www.shinehealing.org and The Growth Institute Courses
Book: “Shining Freely” by Josie Muterspaw
Photograph Taken Near Lakes of Killarney Ireland