Have you ever felt like you aren’t good enough? Do you find yourself apologizing endlessly to others? Do you feel like you have to make everyone else happy? Is saying “no” difficult for you?
Throughout childhood, we form beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. Well-meaning parents teach us to be polite and respectful often creating people-pleasers as adults. There are other ways to end up with these types of thoughts though. If our internal threat system is overly stimulated in childhood, we are more likely to internalize those messages and believe those are truly how we feel about ourselves. The main point is that our internal beliefs often stem from our primary caregivers’ reactions to childhood events. If parents consistently have large reactions to small offenses, a child may grow to feel like they must walk on eggshells- they must be good enough to win approval, which can present in various areas of life. Obviously, abuse and neglect can result in this type of thinking; however, there are other, more subtle forms that may cause these belief systems. A parent who is constantly concerned about their child’s weight may cause the child to connect their worth with their weight. A parent who forces a child to hug others even though the child doesn’t want to may send the message that you can’t say no when something makes you uncomfortable. When a parent criticizes a child’s actions or statements, it can leave that child feeling like they aren’t good enough. Criticism can be an extremely strong influencer in beliefs we carry for years.
It’s important for us to remember one major point- that voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough is NOT your true voice. It is the voice of others, internalized. Numerous types of therapies focus on these internalized messages. I do like to start out with helping people realize that those beliefs are not their own as they learn to separate those thoughts and assign them to caregivers who relayed those types of messages. Sometimes, it is helpful to externalize and separate that voice from your own. As an adult, you get to choose if you carry those beliefs with you.
Next, I really like to use Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) in working toward more adaptive belief systems. I found a cool graphic that describes how EMDR works from here that is included below:
The difficult part of EMDR? Facing those feelings that have been repressed for possibly years. The beautiful part? Finding more adaptive/positive beliefs to replace old thought patterns. The cool thing about EMDR is that you can do work around practically any negative belief you hold about yourself! Sometimes, the difficult part is coming up with something more adaptive to shift over to.
If you have more questions or are considering pursuing EMDR therapy, please reach out to us as both Stephanie and Jennifer have had training in EMDR (see more on our Team & Services page). We are happy to assist in finding you a provider to fit your needs!