Why is it SO HARD to take responsibility and say, whoops! I messed up?
I have a theory… based in shame…
As children, we are told to be “good girls and boys.” Being good means you do what you are told, without arguing. For some people, doing what you are told is life or death – well, it feels like it. If you don’t do what you’re told, there is punishment.
So, we spend a lot of time trying to be “good enough” for our parents as children. And we learn that if we are not good enough, that there is punishment. For some of us, worse than others.
So, we grow up… turn into adults, and there is no parent left to punish us. So guess who ends up doing the punishing?
||You got it. We do. We punish ourselves. In our little comments. In our minds. With our actions. With out self-sabotage. We punish ourselves for not being good enough.
The manager of a restaurant I went to last night came over and said to us, “I’m the guy you beat up if something’s wrong.” And I thought to myself, why didn’t he say, “If you have a complaint, I’m happy to be in service to you and get you what you need,” What a different energy. But I heard his inner monologue. “I deserve to be punished.”
The problem is, what is the measure? What is the measure of good enough?
(In psychology, we can see this taken to the extreme with eating disordered patients, who just can’t seem to get small enough – their brain has changed good enough to small enough, and they are acting in accordance to being “enough”… in this case, small enough)
So, when we are raised to be “good” without having a say in what that even means, many times, without even being told up front what is expected of us, we try very hard to be perfect. To attain that conditional love. Which of course is possible, but the unconditional love that we are truly striving for, is not. (Many parents, parenting out of conditional love, have never truly experienced unconditional love themselves, and therefore, do not know how to give it).
So, when we have a disagreement with our spouse or loved ones, for instance, somehow, not being good enough comes up. We are standing in our shame. We are standing in our humiliation of not being enough for the other person to love us unconditionally.
And we have long forgotten that it is human to make mistakes. Somehow, mistakes became BAD. So, God-forbid we make one.
When our partner expresses their feelings about something WE have done, we automatically freak out, and go to punishment. The amygdala (hind brain) takes over, and we react out of our 6-year old self (or younger). We think, OH NO, I’M IN TROUBLE! (Also known as an amygdala hijack or amygdala takeover).
And instead of being able to say, WOW! I’m sorry! I made a big mistake. I’d like to make it up to you! What do you need my love?
We say,” I DIDN’T DO THAT!” or some other crazy thing. Sometimes we say this in our heads, and it comes out as defensiveness.
Defensiveness is one of the 4 horseman of the apocalypse. If it’s in your marriage, you are basically doomed…. (according to the research of Gottman).
So! What can you do!!!!???
Stop punishing yourself!
You can rewrite your old stories. You can do this with affirmations. You can re-parent yourself with love. You can teach yourself self-love. You can learn what unconditional love really is. Learn about emotional intelligence!
I have a 3-month coaching program, on the phone, to help rewrite this and much more. If you’re ready for something different, let’s make it work for you!
Many of us were not given the love and nurturing that we desired and deserved growing up. This lack of love burns a hole in us, making us create stories about not being enough and not mattering. Then we cover this aching pain, we stuff it down with food (or starve ourselves of affection/food), we drink it away to numb out, we learn to stop feeling our feelings, put others first and become professional resentment creators, manipulating others under the table to get what we want.
Stop it now. Take back your life. Empower yourself. Give yourself the love and nurturing that you missed as a child. You deserve it.
So many of us don’t believe that we deserve to be treated kindly, to be treated fairly, to trust ourselves, our intuition, thereby not trusting others. We exist from a place of “I’ve got this, if I want something done right, I have to do it myself.”
It’s time to reprogram your thinking. If you are reading this, it’s time. Start now. Take your limiting belief, and rewrite it. Go to your pain, allow yourself to burn, allow yourself to grieve, allow your sorrow.
And then, rewrite the story. Rewrite the beliefs. And read them everyday. It’s a choice. Are you ready to make the choice?
Louise Hay, one of my favorite leaders, started the affirmation movement with Melody Beattie. They were on to something. Affirmations are extremely powerful. And I could give them to you all day long… but YOU get to make them for yourself. YOU get to make affirmations that cause you to cry because they heal your pain from the inside out. And you can not access your healing without knowing your pain.
So, allow yourself to know yourself. Allow yourself to go to the parts that aren’t working. Allow yourself to admit to yourself that your children aren’t healthy, or you miss that family member that you stopped talking to, or that your relationship is broken, your finances, your integrity… whatever it is… start by admitting it. Allow you to know yourself, and then… allow yourself to be ok with the mess. Tell yourself it’s ok. Mother and nurture yourself, the way you needed to be mothered and nurtured. Hold yourself. Pet yourself. Kiss yourself.
Scientists have studied the brain, and have found that rejection lights up in the brain the same way that pain does. So, rejection causes a similar reaction in the body to physical pain. Of course we would try to avoid it. A synonym for rejection is abandonment. The word origin of abandon is “to subjugate, subdue, from surrender.” According to an on-line thesaurus, Etymologically, the word carries a sense of “put someone under someone else’s control.” Meaning “to give up absolutely.” The noun sense of “letting loose, surrender to natural impulses” is from abandon.
Interestingly, I was raised by an extremely controlling, what I would now call conditionally loving father. If I did not do what he wanted, I was literally rejected. As a young child, I quickly learned to adjust MYself to what he wanted, in order to experience what both he and I believed was love. I became addicted to this type of control, and when I was out of my father’s house, continued to control myself and others in this same fashion. Which ended me up in a divorce 20 years after I left my parent’s house, 20 years after their divorce.
I experience a LOT of resistance around surrender. I know that surrender is the key to my health, the key to my relationships, and the key to my happiness. Although, I find it extremely difficult to surrender and trust.
If the word abandon comes from letting loose and surrendering to natural impulses, and is related to being under someone’s control and power, it is no wonder that I struggle to surrender and give up control. I have become so addicted to control, and so familiar with it, that giving it up literally feels like rejection, or abandonment. To give up my worst enemy, is to feel my worst pain. I literally have to hurt myself to give up what is hurting me so I can be healed. It is the scariest experience. Learning to trust myself, and to not reject and abandon myself, in the process of abandoning and rejecting the control that I have always known to be safe and loving. As I transform, and begin to realize that “safe” is an illusion, and loving has nothing to do with conditions, I become paralyzed to give up my old beliefs in order to not experience rejection or abandonment.
As one of my clients says, “Pain reflects your level of commitment.” Time to get messy.
I work with so many women who have forgotten their “NO!” No comes from being empowered, which is derived from ANGER energy, which so many women in our culture have been told to stop feeling. When we give up our anger, we give up our “NO.” A big part of the work I do with people is to help them remember their healthy boundaries, so we can return to NO, and release passive aggressiveness, manipulation, criticism, defensiveness, aggression, and abuse, all which result in the destruction of relationships. More information can be read about on ANGER AND IT’S BENEFITS in my eBook on the first page of my website: www.HeatherHundhausen.com if you are interested in reading more about the subject.
The poem below is an incredible example of what happens when we LOSE, and then FIND, our NO!
Please enjoy, and be sure to grab the tissue box!
When Angela was very young,
Age two or three or so,
Her mother and her father
Taught her never to say NO.
They taught her that she must agree
With everything they said,
And if she didn’t, she was spanked
And sent upstairs to bed.
So Angela grew up to be
A most agreeable child;
She was never angry
And she was never wild;
She always shared, she always cared,
She never picked a fight,
And no matter what her parents said,
She thought that they were right.
Angela the Angel did very well in school
And, as you might imagine, she followed every rule;
Her teachers said she was so well-bred,
So quiet and so good,
But how Angela felt inside
They never understood.
Angela had lots of friends
Who liked her for her smile;
They knew she was the kind of gal
Who’d go the extra mile;
And even when she had a cold
And really needed rest,
When someone asked her if she’d help
She always answered “Yes”.
When Angela was thirty-three, she was a lawyer’s wife.
She had a home and family, and a nice suburban life.
She had a little girl of four
And a little boy of nine,
And if someone asked her how she felt
She always answered, “Fine.”
But one cold night near Christmas time
When her family was in bed,
She lay awake as awful thoughts went spinning through her head;
She didn’t know why, and she didn’t know how,
But she wanted her life to end;
So she begged Whoever put her here
To take her back again.
And then she heard, from deep inside,
A voice that was soft and low;
It only said a single word
And the word it said was… NO!
From that moment on, Angela knew
Exactly what she had to do.
Her life depended on that word,
So this is what her loved ones heard:
NO, I just don’t want to;
NO, I don’t agree;
NO, that’s yours to handle;
NO, that’s wrong for me;
NO, I wanted something else;
NO, that hurt a lot!
NO, I’m tired, and NO, I’m busy,
And NO, I’d rather not!
Well, her family found it shocking,
Her friends reacted with surprise;
But Angela was different, you could see it in her eyes;
For they’ve held no meek submission
Since that night three years ago
When Angela the Angel
Got permission to say NO.
Today Angela’s a person first, then a mother and a wife.
She knows where she begins and ends,
She has a separate life.
She has talents and ambitions,
She has feelings, needs and goals.
She has money in the bank and
An opinion at the polls.
And to her boy and girl she says,
“It’s nice when we agree;
But if you can’t say NO, you’ll never grow
To be all you’re meant to be.
Because I know I’m sometimes wrong
And because I love you so,
You’ll always be my angels
Even when you tell me NO.”
~Barbara K. Bassett