Have you ever felt like you are not good enough? This is a common belief that many of us have (whether we want to admit it or not). Let’s look a little deeper into the cause of this particular belief. When we were children, we were physically smaller than the adults around us, and of course, didn’t know as much as they did. Every day, we learned more about the world. We had to learn how to communicate with our parents in order to get our needs met. We had to learn how to get along with our siblings in order to survive in our household. We had to learn what behaviors were safe and unsafe so that we didn’t injure ourselves. Socially, we had to learn how to interact with neighbor kids, classmates, teachers, coaches, and other adults. There was a lot for us to learn. And, the way we learned was through trial and error.
Think about how many times you heard the word “No” growing up. Largely, adults talk to children as if they should “know better.” Parents and older siblings don’t consciously keep in mind that the child they are in charge of truly doesn’t know any better. The child is learning, and the only way to learn is through taking some kind of action and then getting feedback on it. The child is experiencing life in real time and is getting direct feedback in order to know if that was a good action to take or not. In the future, the child will remember what he or she learned and will make a better choice next time.
Remember back to when you were a child. What were your learning experiences like? Were you yelled at when you had less-than-perfect behaviors? Did you hear the words, “Shame on you?” Were you hit as a way to reprimand you? Or, on the flip-side, were you ignored? Were your caregivers too busy to pay attention to you? All of these reactions make a child think and feel like he or she is not good enough. This is how this belief gets formed. If you were overly reprimanded or shamed for an action you took as a child and were made to feel as if “you should have known better,” you most likely internalized this feeling and formed the belief that you are not good enough.
As children, we idealize our parents. This means that we do not question them or their behaviors (no matter how crazy or wrong we perceive them to be). We know deep down that it is not safe to question our parents. They provide our food, shelter and clothing. In our minds, we know we need them for survival. To question their behaviors (or sanity) is a dangerous road for us to travel down. Instead, it is much safer for us to internalize their behavior and make it about us. As adults, we must look back at some of our childhood experiences and take an honest assessment of what really happened and how that has impacted the way we feel about ourselves today. We have to reassure ourselves that our behaviors during childhood were reasonable given that we didn’t know better. It’s not that we weren’t good enough. It’s that we were taught by caregivers who, by and large, forgot that we were little beings trying to learn in the best way we knew how.
Next week, we’ll continue to explore how limiting beliefs are formed and how they negatively affect us today.
This blog post was provided by Cindy M. Nelson, M.B.A., C.S.L.C. from Anakh Leadership Coaching LLC. We specialize in developing business leaders and professionals by increasing their self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall effectiveness thereby increasing professional success and personal satisfaction in their lives. For more information, please go to aleadershipcoach.com.
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