When we believe something is wrong with us or that we’re ‘not enough,’ it hurts inside. It provokes feelings of unhappiness, emptiness and lack. Thoughts and beliefs that we’re bad or guilty for some reason, even though we don’t know why. We then begin to doubt ourselves and our value. And believing that we’re not as good as others, we may start to feel separate, alone and unsafe.
Instead of making ourselves feel better by doing the work necessary to restore integrity in our lives - being true to our real selves – accepting our thoughts and feelings, making empowered choices and growing into the magnificent lives that I believe we are destined for – we instead turn to the easier softer way – accepting substitutes outside of ourselves.
Here are some glimpses of what that might look like:
- If we’re feeling empty, we may try to ‘fill ourselves up’ through food, drink, entertainment or activity.
- If we think we’re not good enough, we may try to be ‘enough’ by working harder or trying to be “the best” at whatever we’re doing.
- If we don’t believe we have value, we may try to prove our worth through over-performing or trying to attract the praise of others.
- If we see ourselves as weak or vulnerable, we may try to suppress our feelings and emotions, such as tears, anger, tenderness or love. (As a result, we might become tougher and more aggressive, or shut down and become tight and unemotional.)
- If we’re afraid of being “wrong,” we may do everything we can not to make mistakes, be right or be perfect.
- If we believe we’re not lovable, we may compromise ourselves to do things to get what we think is love, acceptance or esteem from others.
In the short term, all of these seem like perfectly natural solutions to fill the gaps we feel inside. But in the long term, they actually perpetuate our problems – because we haven’t dealt with how we think and feel inside.