By Mallika Bhatia
Do you love who you are? Complicated question? Here’s a simpler one: do you like the person you are? Need help answering that as well? Let me help you. Think of a person you deeply love. Now think of why you love them; a simple list will suffice. The reasons in everyone’s lists are usually that you like who they are, you admire them for their determination, you enjoy how they make you feel, you can respect them, you trust the choices they make, plus or minus a few and the list is complete. Every reason focuses on a quality ‘they’ possess, a positive. Now try and answer the same question for yourself with the exact same criteria. Do you admire yourself for your determination? Do you trust your choices? Do you like the way you treat yourself?
It gets difficult when we have to talk about ourselves lovingly, doesn’t it? We often talk about loving and valuing ourselves, but have we ever questioned how are we supposed to love ourselves without liking who we really are? Or what does loving ourselves truly mean?
Loving ourselves means loving who we are, accepting our shortcomings as well as our strengths, giving ourselves a breather every once in a while, knowing when to say stop, and understanding when we can push ourselves. Pampering ourselves, not the mani-pedi kind, but really pampering our soul, knowing what we deserve and not accepting anything less. Above all, loving ourselves means liking and respecting who we are.
In reality, when asked to talk about ourselves, don’t we usually have a list of complaints to begin with? I look too fat, I eat too much, I haven’t achieved anything, I think too negatively, I am too jealous, I am too sensitive, I don’t trust my thoughts…
Today, through this article, I want to give you a gift: a gift of working on your core beliefs about yourself and changing the ones that need to change. Working on the so-called negative associations that we have within ourselves. Ignoring them and suppressing them doesn’t help. The core negative beliefs keep popping up in different forms; they manifest themselves in various situations and continue troubling us. So let us learn an effective process of dealing with them once and for all. I am listing the steps to simplify the process. You are welcome to follow these steps alone or with the help of a professional.
The first step to work on the core negative beliefs or the feelings that constantly trouble you is to identify the feelings/beliefs: what is it that you constantly feel in every situation, what is the most common feeling you deal with? A few examples are: people always make me feel rejected or I often feel all alone, I feel I am not loved for who I am, the world is against me, I think everyone is out there to get me, I feel like a failure and other such feelings.
The second step is to systematically work on those beliefs.
2a. Deeply understand all the aspects of the feelings.
Identify who the perpetrator was: where do these beliefs come from (eg., childhood, incidences in school or with friends, something someone said, etc.).
What do they represent in your life? (It has started defining who I am/all my reactions come from this belief/it reminds me of the way my parents spoke to me, etc.)
Who do they make you? (In your own eyes, what sort of a person are you for thinking in this particular way: weak, a victim, unforgiving, alone, a failure, rejected, etc.)
2b. Answer why you haven’t been able to give up this belief yet.
It could be simply because you had not identified it yet or it could be something deeper. It could be because holding onto this belief helps you gain something! So ask yourself, how is this belief helping you? What purpose is it still serving in your life? A few examples could be: playing a victim helps me be the center of attention, holding onto anger towards the perpetrator means that I have someone to blame and hence don’t have to take the responsibility of my actions, judging myself for my body size reminds me of how my mother spoke to me and it is the only connection that I have/had with my mother,I can’t forgive/let go because it would make me more vulnerable, etc.
The third step is the change itself.
3a. Ask yourself what will help you change the beliefs?
You will have your answers only if you peer deep within. After all, you know yourself best.
Maybe you simply forgive the perpetrator, and that helps you let go of the negative belief. For some, it could be something as simple as that. Look at your situation as an outsider and understand the roles each person played. Accept that the other person did what they felt was right, not in trying to hurt you, but maybe as their way, however wrong, of protecting themselves and you.
For some, a daily reminder/ an activity/ a fixed plan and schedule will help them change the belief. Having an accountability partner can also help tremendously. Another things that works as a motivator is understanding how letting go of that belief will impact your life and personality in reality. Visualize how much lighter you will feel, get in touch with the emotions that you have been so craving all your life. Imagine feeling loved, cherished, light, successful, accepted or whatever feeling it is that you are longing for.
3b. Make the change. Choose a day, carry out the activity that you thought of above and rip off the bandaid. Tips that will make the process a sure shot success are:
- Take it slow. Don’t try to change your entire life in one go. Take it one step at a time. Work on one belief at a time, however long it takes.
- Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect miracles. You have thought in a certain way all your life, for so many years; give yourself at least as many months to see the results.
- You make take one step forward and two steps back and that is okay, too. It is a process that will impact your entire life, so slow progress is still progress.
The fourth and last step is to replace the older negative belief with a new neutral or positive one that will work for you. Then reinforce the new belief everyday until it becomes permanent and natural.
Happy changing, everyone, and happy falling deeply and madly in love with yourself. In case you have specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to be a part of your journey.
Mallika Bhatia is Life Coach with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Diploma in Hypnotherapy, with more than 13 years of experience in this field. She is a writer, a blogger, and a published author with regular dedicated columns in two National Dailies in India. She also manages The Hope Tribe, a platform to share true stories of people who overcame obstacles and became real heroes. She practices in Munich at her office in NeuHarlaching or over Skype/FaceTime. Her website has more details about her work & for regular doses of wisdom, like & follow her on Facebook.