You can watch coaching call 2 in the Facebook group (best option, as you’ll be able to comment as you watch)
or by entering the password inspired above
EXERCISE 1: OBSERVING THE INNER CRITIC
As children we're so receptive to the world around us - after all, our developing brains are wired to take in information and learn from those we interact with. Think about how careful some parents are to avoid swearing around their child - the child may only need to hear a swear word once to pick it up and commit it to memory.
If you were raised with a strong, critical voice from someone in your life (your mother, father, grandparents)…
If there was an adult in your life who was verbally abusive…
Or emotionally abusive, using manipulation, control, shame and blame…
Or someone who just wasn't able to show you love and support in the way that you personally needed…
Your beautiful little self took on negative, unsupportive beliefs about yourself because of those experiences.
This was a natural thing for you to do. You were doing the best job that you could at the time, with the awareness that you had. You were younger and didn't have the same comprehension that you do now.
But those deep-rooted, untrue beliefs about yourself are not serving you.
Even though your adult, rational brain knows those beliefs (IF it is aware of them, and often we aren't) are not correct... your subconscious is convinced by them.
This is the reason you so often sabotage the things you say that you want: your subconscious beliefs don't match your conscious desires. This negative self-talk is running in the background of everything that you do. It’s creating doubt, fear, self-sabotage, resistance and procrastination. This is what's keeping you stuck and playing small.
Internally, you are holding yourself back.
You are scared.
You don't believe you are worthy of what you want.
You don't truly believe you deserve it.
And it runs even deeper. There is research that shows that we carry the memories of our ancestors in our DNA. From an evolutionary perspective, this makes sense: passing on basic learnings about experiences that are dangerous would assist the species to continue to survive. So you're not only carrying the negative programming you've picked up throughout your life, you're subconsciously carrying the programming of your parents and grandparents too.
"Like silt deposited on the cogs of a finely tuned machine after the seawater of a tsunami recedes, our experiences, and those of our forebears, are never gone, even if they have been forgotten. They become a part of us, a molecular residue holding fast to our genetic scaffolding. The DNA remains the same, but psychological and behavioral tendencies are inherited. You might have inherited not just your grandmother’s knobby knees, but also her predisposition toward depression caused by the neglect she suffered as a newborn."
- Discover Magazine, 2013
Negative thoughts, repeated in our minds, very quickly become beliefs. We internalise the negative statements as truth, and they form part of our belief system. Those beliefs influence our behaviour. And our behaviours generate results, which is why our lives look the way they currently do.
As an adult, my negative subconscious programming played out in so many ways:
- Inability to accept compliments, feeling embarrassed or ashamed if someone did say something positive to me
- Not being able to acknowledge my achievements or feel proud of myself, always critiquing myself and expecting more
- Beating myself up about mistakes, replaying situations and conversations repeatedly, feeling ashamed
- Overworking, pushing my body to work seven days and double-shifts across multiple jobs
- Financial struggle, constantly in 'feast or famine' mode with money
- Fear of success and visibility, meaning I would keep quiet, play small and downplay my abilities in areas of my life, rather than living to my full potential
- Struggling to say 'no', people-pleasing tendencies, often doing things out of obligation
- Settling for poor treatment in romantic relationships and friendships
- Anxiety around ‘success’, sabotaging my life by accepting poorly paid jobs and avoiding asking for pay raises and other things I deserved
In this exercise, you're going to observe and record any thoughts/self-talk you notice whizzing around in your mind - the words of your inner critic, ego, or saboteur. The Inner Critic is the internal voice that beats us up for not doing well enough, for not living up to other people’s standards, for not conforming to the rules, for generally not being good enough.
Set the intention to notice your thoughts as you go about your day, and write all negative, limiting thoughts down on a scrap piece (or pieces) of paper.
This will mean carrying paper and a pen with you throughout the day, but it will be worth it. This exercise is really eye-opening and transformational.
Your thoughts are unique to you, but as examples, you may notice things like:
You make a small mistake and your inner voice remarks, “You idiot. So dumb! You always get things wrong!”
You remember you forgot to reply to a friend’s email/call/text the other day, and your inner voice berates and shames you: “You’re a shitty friend. Why can’t you get it together? When will you grow up, and get your crap together?”
You notice that anytime you catch a glimpse of your reflection, your thoughts about your appearance are immediately critical and judgemental rather than loving: ‘Your stomach looks fat, better suck it in’; ‘Ew my skin is blotchy and ugly’; ‘My hair looks terrible’…
This exercise can be a bit confronting and saddening, as it highlights just how mean we're actually being to ourselves.
If you do notice that your inner voice/critic/judge/ego is quite active, just know that this is a part of you that is (ironically) trying to protect you. Even though it may be misguided, that inner voice is usually vulnerable and scared. It's trying to keep you exactly where you are, because that feels 'safer' than what change does. Try to observe your thoughts and beliefs without judging them or yourself.
When we’re conscious of our thoughts, it’s easier to interrupt them with our awareness and choose differently. This is all really valuable information that you're going to use to transform your life from the inside out.
EXERCISE 2: ASSOCIATED MEMORIES
When you've got a list of thoughts and beliefs you've noticed, take some time to sit with them. Read over each thought and see if a memory about where that belief originates pops up - especially any memories that have an emotional charge of shame, embarrassment, resentment or anger. Just trust whatever comes up for you, even if the link to the thought/belief isn't immediately obvious or logical.
Begin to make a list of memories you have, that are related to the limiting and critical thoughts you noticed.
If you need some prompts, think about:
- something that changed you significantly
- a childhood memory that stands out
- a memory from adolescence
- the toughest or lowest point in your life
- any particular 'defining' events from your past
For example, I realised my belief that being smart is something to be ashamed of and embarrassed about was linked to memories of a girl in primary school calling me names because I won academic awards; and several memories of an abusive, jealous parent being triggered when I received recognition for my achievements at high school, and punishing me.
This exercise might be triggering, and you might find you cry, feel angry, experience physical discomfort... All of this is okay. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up, don't try to suppress it.
Know that you're safe (and remind your beautiful self of that), here in the present, and you're doing valuable work to heal yourself.
Our incredible brains are capable of infinite memory. The majority of what we experience day to day is dumped as we sleep, clearing out our memory bank to make space for new experiences. So if you can recall a memory, it's generally because that event is significant to you. Each of the memories on your list have shaped your feelings about yourself and your worth in some way.
In the next few modules, you’re going to learn various ways to clear these limiting beliefs, the emotional charge of the memories, and the associated impact on your adult life (hooray!).
EXERCISE 3: ACCEPTANCE
Our mothers, fathers and other caregivers are supposed to be a reliable source of love, empathy, comfort, support and understanding.
If the important adults in your life did not provide that for you, it’s common to experience some denial around and suppression of your feelings about it.
A child is wired to yearn for love and support, and you needed some denial in order to survive what you experienced.
Acknowledging that your mother and/or father - the people who were likely the centre of your world, who you understandably looked to for love and emotional support, and who you needed more than you needed anyone else - did not and cannot provide this for you can be difficult to do, but it is an important part of your healing.
Truly realising that your own mother and/or father are actually incapable of authentic love and empathy may be shocking to you. Even if you’ve allowed yourself to consider this before, you might have been unwilling to accept it; blaming yourself for your parent’s inability to love you instead. You may have spent time naively hoping your next encounter in the relationship will be different, and that things will improve. Unfortunately, unrealistic expectations set you up for more disappointment, pain, heartbreak and exasperation.
You do not have the power to change others. You can only change yourself. What other people do is none of your business; but your perception and how you respond to it is.
Letting go of the belief that you can change your mother and/or father and ‘make’ them love you the way you need will release some of the stagnant energy of trauma and attachment that is holding you back. You must accept that your parent’s limitations have really hurt you. This shifts you out of denial and into reality. It gives you back the control and empowerment you need to move forward.
I noticed some time ago that I tended to constantly rationalise and reframe my past experiences, rather than just allowing myself to accept them. Perhaps you tend to do the same? But doing so means you are disconnected from your true self, and processing reality solely through your head instead of through your heart.
Are any of these sorts of thoughts familiar?
‘It could have been worse’
‘Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I remember’
‘So many people had it tougher than me’
‘Oh well, it’s in the past now’
‘I don’t have the right to feel sad about that anymore’
‘Why are you still letting this bother you?’
‘Well, at least my parents didn’t ____’
‘It’s not fair of me to feel this way about my parents’
‘Thinking that makes me a bad and ungrateful daughter/son’
You will expand on and further explore this aspect of your healing in Module 3: Release, but the only thing you need to do right now is set the intention that you are willing to accept what happened to you.
You need to be willing to accept:
1. Your parent’s limitations. It is their limitations, not you, that is to blame for the way they treated you
2. That, no matter how much you want to, you cannot go back in time and get the parental nurturing and love you desire
3. That, as an adult, no one can meet your childhood needs now except you. Supportive partners and friends are a huge blessing, but you must take responsibility for mothering and fathering yourself, rather than subconsciously searching for someone to meet your child-like needs in a relationship
You may find it helpful to reread this exercise regularly, just allowing what you need to hear from it to really sink in to your subconscious mind.
You can also repeat some of those points above to yourself regularly (as repetitive words/sounds are able to penetrate the subconscious mind). For example, state out loud or in your mind:
‘I accept my parent’s limitations’
‘I accept that I cannot change the past’
‘I accept that I am responsible for mothering myself now’
If those statements trigger some resistance in you and feel difficult or uncomfortable, take the path of less resistance by instead stating, ‘I am willing to begin to accept my parent’s limitations’, or ‘I am willing to try to accept my parent’s limitations’.