Over the years, I’d say about half of my clients have had some kind of identity or self-worth problem—with themselves, someone else, or both. That can mean undervaluing themselves, or it can mean that they are simply valuing the wrong things in life. The things you value are closely tied to how you will see your own self-worth. One quote from Martin Luthor King comes to mind: “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
Now, I don’t think Dr. King meant that someone who hasn’t made that discovery should die. What I think he meant is that there was an essential part of life that you can’t really experience without finding something bigger than yourself—and I wholeheartedly agree. If your highest priority is your own wellbeing, especially your own present, temporary wellbeing, you’ll go through your whole life feeling that something is missing.
The trouble is that a lot of the things we believe are unconscious. Without a doubt my least popular teaching is that people always, always, do what they believe. If you yell at your wife, or get drunk every night, or do any other obviously destructive thing, it’s because you believed it was the right thing. Or at the very least, an okay thing.
It’s easy to see why that upsets people, but that doesn’t mean I think they’re repeating those behaviors intentionally, per se. It’s entirely possible for a person to have multiple conflicting beliefs about the same thing, one rational and based on what the person knows to be best for them, and another subconscious, based on previous patterns and pain/pleasure programming and frequently ancestral memories as well.
My best personal example would be the time my dad snapped when I was about 12 or 13. Out of nowhere he just started hitting me. I fell down and skinned my knee on the gravel. He kept hitting me and yelling that I would never amount to anything. I found out later that he’d just been told he would need serious heart surgery that would most likely change his life forever. It had never really been about me. He eventually apologized, and apart from that one incident he was the kindest dad you could imagine. Even so, that one trauma ruled my whole life for the next fifteen years.
I’ve found that these problematic subconscious beliefs usually boil down to an if/then statement. And the problematic part is usually the “then.” The lie wasn’t that my dad hit me and said those things, that really happened. The lie I was believing was that they were true, that: “if my dad hit me and said I will never amount to anything, then I will never amount to anything.” One of the best things you can ever do for yourself is stop these wrong beliefs from accumulating, because that’s when even the little, everyday things become harder. Use the right tools to heal these things as they come up, and you’ll get your joy back, just as I eventually did.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!