Imagine that one of your best friends has just had a baby.
You visit her to congratulate her and see the newborn. She hands you a tiny bundle, the child’s sleepy eyes look up at you as a tiny hand grips your massive finger.
After a delightful while you return the baby to your friend.
Your friend looks down at the baby and says :
“You are worthless”
“Your are not good enough”
“You are a failure”
What would you think?
You would probably be shocked and you would almost certainly disagree.
You would argue that it was ridiculous and cruel for her to label a newborn child in this way.
No one starts off worthless, not good enough or a failure; that is something you are taught to believe about yourself along the way.
You might have been taught very well and come to believe these labels implicitly and even blame yourself for being that way.
Take one of the critical thoughts you have about yourself – one of those damning descriptions you know to be true.
Imagine, once again, that you are going to visit a friend who has just had a baby.
When you get there you realise, with a start, that the friend is your mother and the newborn baby is you.
Your mother hands you the tiny bundle that is you, the child’s sleepy eyes look up at you as a tiny hand grips your massive finger.
Look into that baby’s eyes and try to apply your damming description to her (or him).
Does that description really fit?
If it doesn’t fit the newborn you then you must have learned this idea about yourself along the way and if you still believe that description is true then you have been well taught indeed.
In either case what has been learned can be unlearned.
One definition of therapy might be unlearning what isn’t true (even if it seems like it is).
Full disclosure: the overall idea for this post came from a suggestion at the end of this article about Self Acceptance and Self Rejection by Steve Andreas.