Get at the Root of Your Negative Behaviors

Most of us have grown up with beliefs that don’t serve us. We live in an imperfect world. We are nurtured by imperfect care-givers (some much worse than others). And, especially when children, it’s easy to misread cues in our environment and arrive at false conclusions about ourselves, life and relationships. Then we spend our adulthood acting out those beliefs. They become the paradigm, so to speak, from which we view the world and act our negative behaviors

A Personal Experience

A belief I formed when a child was “It’s not okay to be proud of who I am.” I even recall one poignant experience in which I learned that belief. I must have been around nine years of age and was playing on the stairs to our basement. My mother came down the stairs carrying laundry. No doubt I was in the way and being obnoxious (which I could be as a child). I recall my mother saying, “Roger, get out of my way. You really think you’re smart, don’t you.”

She passed and I stood frozen on the stairway for a few moments and then, so I wouldn’t be noticed, sneaked down the stairs and past the wash room and into a corner of our basement. Totally ashamed, I laid down on a bed where no one would come looking for me, pulled some covers over my head and literally wished I would die, or at the very least that the world would swallow me whole.

I stayed on the bed for a long while, not wanting to be in the presence of another human being. And I made a decision. “It’s not okay to be proud; to feel good about me.”  The decision stuck for a long time. As I grew older I found ways to minimize my goodness and the good I accomplished and, instead, magnified my foibles, mistakes, and failures. It was not okay to feel really good about myself. It became a core belief that I didn’t challenge until well into adulthood. The belief set me up to engage in negative behaviors like minimize my capabilities and avoid circumstances in which I could be judged.

Challenging a Belief

I recall challenging that belief. The realization of how I’d been living hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt the full impact of the consequences of not letting myself feel proud and confident. Fire and passion welled up inside me as I challenged the old decision and put a new one in its place.

Anyone who knew my mother knows she was a good woman. She’d be shocked to know of this experience. I didn’t talk to her about it while she was alive. No doubt she was having a frustrating day and words she did not intend to have such far-reaching impact spilled out. She spoke the words. I made the decision.

Such experiences (some far, far worse) happen in the lives of each of us. None of us grow up unscathed. However, the good news is that it is not so much the events that occur but how we talk to ourselves, the decisions/choices we make about what happens that determines the outcome. (Reality + Responsibility = Results). And the most significant and far-reaching decisions have to do with how we think about ourselves. Although we may not have the awareness and inner resources to challenge such decisions as children we can certainly do so as adults.

Take some time to consider an identify belief that doesn’t serve you. By identity I mean a belief about who you are, perhaps about your goodness, capability or worth. Next week I want to walk you through a powerful process for challenging and changing such beliefs.


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