For years I was unable to form relationships with men for fear of rejection. I feared the pain so much that during my teenage years, my longest relationship was a week (and so desperate for love that I had four of those a month). I felt that I had to reject boys before the inevitable happened, that sooner or later they would reject me.
As a clocked up more and more boyfriends, I became untouchable as a ‘girlfriend’ and so my reputation driven by an ever decreasing self-esteem created my own intention and my reality. Soon enough I didn’t need to reject, they didn’t stick around long enough to be rejected, my low self-esteem was confirmed again and again and my self-fulfilling prophecy was complete. I had succeeded through unconscious intention and design in creating my own reality.
It’s an all too familiar story. And yet the concept of manifesting is ridiculed by pragmatists as new age hocus pocus–you can’t ‘manifest’ your own reality!!
But we do manifest it all the time (and mostly not in a good way).
They call it the Pygmalion effect. Others call it the law of attraction but use it in the popularized ‘manifestation of money’ secret. I wholeheartedly believe it, but for most, their law of manifestation is a vicious not a virtuous cycle.
Psychologists have proven that negative beliefs have a stronger sway over our opinions than positive ones. Back in 2001 the review of psychology published a review entitled Bad is Stronger than Good “Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones… The self is more motivated to avoid bad self-definitions than to pursue good ones.” [Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Finkenauer & Vohs]
I want to remind you of something you and almost everyone out there has forgotten. We are all born without judging ourselves perfect or imperfect. And then we start. Because ‘bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones.’ Once upon a time someone you loved told you that you were not perfect. You internalized it and it became your belief. You acted accordingly.
What does that mean? It means that only you can change your reality by becoming responsible for your experiences which give rise to your beliefs.
No matter how it happened and no matter what age you were, you can only say that the person who believed this was you. You believed it, no-one else. No blame.
- You are responsible for your beliefs (no matter how harsh that seems)
- Blaming others now for your negative self-esteem is pointless (if you do, you’re running a disempowering victim script)
- It is your choice every single day whether to carry on believing this or not (so you can – if you choose to – stop it now)
And yet I can hear the clamour now of people reading this giving all sorts of reasons why they are not responsible for their negative self-esteem and their beliefs. I hear you. Really I do. You know I’ve been there (and I’ve written about all sorts of victim stories ~ as I don’t run most of the scripts anymore the only thing I can do with them is share them with you). But the reasons you are giving are simply ideas and thoughts that you use to explain the way things are when you are not willing to be responsible for the way things are.
Are you feeling criticised? Own it. There is no shame in running a victim script. I have every compassion for you and we’ve all done it. I had a deep rooted insecurity and a fear of rejection which I attributed to the fact I was adopted out and brought up by a narcissist (those were my reasons). But it was still a belief that I took on board.
My mind was so powerful that it created and perpetuated this belief, justified it with reasons, took no responsibility for it and suffered for years afterwards as I acted in accordance with it and created my own reality.
Pain is inevitable, but how we experience it can be changed. How we experience pain is called suffering. You might have noticed that when you tread on a piece of lego (as I often do with two toddlers running around the house) that it creates an emotional reaction (along the lines of “Clucking Bell”). And you might also have noticed that when you are already in a bad mood (which is also often the case with two toddlers), the pain is worse. That’s the amazing thing about pain, you can make it worse just by being in a negative mood already. Pain and suffering feed off each other.
Pain perception is able to be controlled by your “prefrontal cortex and emotional limbic system” says Alex Korb, Ph.D in the article Embracing Pain, Psychology Today. “Basically, depending on what’s going on in your mind, your [brain can] release it’s own type of morphine. Endorphins work the same way as other narcotics like vicodin, or Percocet or even heroin (I’m told). Narcotics don’t alter pain signaling per se, they just alter the pain experience. They get rid of the emotional part. They don’t necessarily eliminate the pain; they just make you not care about it.”
The conclusion is inescapable. If our belief system is within our control and our suffering is also within our control, it means that the way we experience life is also totally within our control. The ability and responsibility to be happy is ours and ours alone. Events that unfold beyond our control may cause pain. But when pain strikes, the worst thing you can do is to experience it with negativity. It will send you into a spiral of victim thinking where you will start to act in accordance with your victim beliefs and attract more pain. And yet, pain, such pain also blinds. Which is why it is so extraordinarily difficult to escape it. But like any climb, it starts with just one step.
“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift”- Mary Oliver