I have always tended to look at the world in black and white concrete terms: I’m either good or bad, a winner or a loser, a victor or a victim. While this binary view fits into certain contests, it’s not realistically applicable to the complexities of health in the modern world.
In the Psychology Today article that we discussed in our 2 part podcast episode on self-sabotage, this sentence stands out to me: “People like to be consistent — our actions tend to be in sync with our beliefs and values.” Think about that for just a moment… whether we are conscious of it or not, whatever we believe to be true will influence the way we act and move about in the world.
Think you’re not pretty, you won’t carry yourself in a manner that highlights your beauty.
Think you can’t stop eating cheese, you won’t make dairy-free choices.
Think no one can love you, you won’t allow anyone close enough to fall for you.
Conversely, our positive beliefs create actions that align with them.
Believe you always find good parking and you will.
Believe you can be successful despite your rough upbringing and you’ll soar into the atmosphere.
Believe you have all the gifts and talents necessary to make your work a success and you will dominate your field.
It doesn't seem like it can be that easy, that simply changing our thoughts will change our outcomes. The challenge I have found is that I am not always tuned into the thoughts that are below the surface. For the better part of the last 25 years, I've been ignoring the inner Jennifer that's been crying out for help.
If you've listened to ‘The Lies We Love’ or read ‘ you may be familiar with my story… A familial change at age 16 caused me to question my father's love for me. Instead of dealing with those emotions, I got busy in Advanced Placement classes, softball and volleyball, student government and eventually Bible study. There was no shortage of things, then or now, to distract me from the pain of that loss. There were infinite things, then and now, that I could point to as evidence of my worthiness.
“People like to be consistent — our actions tend to be in sync with our beliefs and values.”
And yet, the inner Jennifer was still hurting and still disbelieving her self-worth and thus she'd trip me up just as I felt I was turning the corner.
It's only been through therapy, loving friendships, coaching, some very real conversations with my Mom and lots of prayer that I've become aware of my tendencies. And I'm still fighting to change my thoughts and beliefs about myself so that they align with the things I say I want. There is a lot of work yet to be done.
But I'm encouraged, because even when I see where I've misstepped or allowed my old programming to change the station, I'm still fighting to get back on track. I can focus on where I’ve stumbled or where I’m going, but not both. So I'm looking ahead with the conviction that I am who I choose to be, starting with my beliefs about myself.
I believe I’m flawed and that perfection is an unrealistic expectation.
I believe that people will love me despite those flaws because there is beauty and worth in the person I am and the person I'm choosing to become.
I believe my father was deeply flawed but that he did what he could and his love for me was undeniable.
I believe that working towards what I want will result in the life I choose and it's up to me to take actions consistent with these beliefs.
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