I am often surprised when a person makes a statement that doesn’t seem to make sense. S/he might say things like “I am not very smart” or “I am ugly” or “I am unlovable”. Despite these claims and the firmness of their belief, there is no obvious evidence to verify that what they are saying is true.
Trying to identify where the negative idea first took root can occur quickly or, for some, may take a long time to uncover. Many people can describe in detail the time and place where they first heard another person tell them the hurtful message that they continue to carry. Others have buried the circumstances so deep, that it takes time to reveal where the idea started.
This week, let’s think seriously about the negative messages that you are carrying:
- The judge – Who made the statement that has been haunting you? Was it a child, a person who was under the influence of a substance, or someone who had serious emotional issues that caused them to be nasty?
- The timing – Did this occur so many years ago that you might be the only one who remembers? Perhaps the person who planted the toxic statement isn’t even alive.
- The circumstances – Did you take the words out of context? Could there have been a misunderstanding? Did you apply the other person’s words about a simple event as an all-encompassing truth about you?
- Your Reaction – Why, out of a world population of almost 7 billion people, did you let one person’s opinion have such power? Have other people given you contradictory messages that you have ignored? Why? What is it that causes you to hold on to the negative when you know that it holds you back and makes your feel small?
So, here’s the homework:
- On a piece of paper write down the negative statement and the name of the person who said it.
- Under that, write the feelings you had/have when you think about this.
- What was your automatic negative thought?
- Then write any supporting evidence that might keep the thought alive.
- Next write any opposing evidence that would argue with the thought you have been holding onto.
- Finally, create a more realistic or balanced thought.
What did you learn from this exercise? Hopefully you can now let it go!
Old, negative messages can only hurt our present and limit our future if we let them! It’s up to you!