Some of things which can put someone off establishing a relationship with another person (in business or socially) is if they come across with too much neediness, insecurity or desperation. We may ourselves have had experiences where we notice that it is usually when we are the most desperate that the other person will run a mile. Such experiences are something we all face from time to time. However, if we are having a bit too many of these experiences perhaps we need to go a bit deeper. We may have got stuck in a pattern of feeling insecure, needy or desperate and need a bit of help to get out of it. We can free ourselves of feeling needy, desperate or insecure by first accepting those feelings and then healing the inner causes.
To change how others treat us, we may need to change how we treat ourselves
It is a basic truth that the relationship we have with others is a mirror of the relationship we have with ourselves. If we are unkind to ourselves this will show up in how others treat us too; if we treat ourselves with respect others will treat us with respect. This is not a hard and fast rule because some people are mean and suspicious of everyone so that is how they will relate to us too. Some people are especially kind to everyone and that is how they will tend to relate to us too.
Inner Talk, Self Talk
What creates and sustains the relationship we have with ourselves is our ‘inner dialog’: it is the way we talk to ourselves. If we do not have a relationship with ourselves that is constructive and supportive (because we are being highly self-critical) this can create a ‘neediness’ in us that causes us to rely on others to meet our needs. Being treated with kindness and respect is a fundamental need which we all have. If we do not relate to ourselves with kindess and respect we will feel that something is missing and we will feel ‘needy’.
If we go on for years (as some of us do) without having much of a kindly thought towards ourselves we are likely to become ‘desperate’ or ‘driven’ in some way. If we imagine what it would be like to have our worst critic standing beside us and commenting on everything we do! That would be horrible. Having that critic inside us is even worse! It is no wonder that we may end up in a painful cycle of feeling empty and isolated and in our desperation try to find the answer outside ourselves in by ‘achieving’ or ‘winning’. All the time our simple basic inner need, to be treated with kindness and respect (by ourselves) is not being met. Even when others do treat us well our inner critic will make some sneering comment about it and want us to put the person down or belittle their actions in some way. A negative inner critic can react viciously to people who treat us better than it believes we deserve and we can find ourselves being strangely angry or feeling contempt for people who do so. “Oh they are just stupid.”, “They are fools. They don’t really know me “, and the like.
The inner problem is that we picked up bad inner habits in how we relate to ourselves. Perhaps we had a highly critical parent or carer at some point and we relate to ourselves in the same unkindly way that that person used on us.
Whatever the cause, it means that we end up approaching others from a sense of feeling empty and trying to fill a sense of lack rather than feeling happy and fulfilled and wanting to share this with them. We may not get to the point of feeling basically happy about ourselves overnight, but it can be done and the journey is itself a fulfilling and worthwhile experience.
The source of problem
If we listen to our inner dialog, the chatter that goes on between the different parts of ourselves, we can soon discover where we need to heal or resolve issues so that we can have a better relationship with ourselves – and a better relationship with others. We may have a very critical part of ourselves so that every time we make a mistake we get a flood of negative inner dialog “Oh no, I’ve get it wrong again! Can I never get it right” etc. If that is the case then we need to get that sorted. This kind of thinking does serious and deep damage and we need to intervene and change how we relate to ourselves. When we do that we will be amazed by how much better, richer and fulfilling life can become. It is like life was old black/white TV and suddenly it becomes full technicolor (and then 3D)!
One way of handling this is to interrupt those negative voices and ‘parent’ them into a healthier state (which sometimes just means telling them that they are wrong and need to shut up and at other times means working with them to shift ‘their’ perspective). Just letting those voices run on and on without intervening is very destructive and can cause listlessness, lack of energy and enthusiasm and a real erosion in our confidence and self esteem. Having negative inner dialog can lead to depression so it needs to be taken seriously and any effort we make to change it reaps real rewards.
How many people am I?
It may feel odd, at first, to relate to ourselves as if we were more than one person. It may feel very peculiar to try and have a conversation with a part of ourselves. However, it is extremely effective to do so and it works so well that it is the basic principle behind many different kinds of healing methods. Some parts of ourselves can easily become split off and take on a voice and set of characteristics to the point that we can have a sort of dialog with them and learn about ourselves that way. As we dialog with those parts of ourselves they start to reintegrate into our sense of self and this also helps reduce the sense of lack. Often when we feel that something is missing – it is! It is a part of us that is missing, or has got locked away from us and is stuck in a negative pattern. We need to reclaim the different parts of ourselves to feel whole and fully alive.
The search for a partner
Sometimes in life we look for people who will contradict our inner dialog. If our inner dialog is very negative and is never, or rarely, reassuring then we may be tempted to seek reassurance from other people. We will look to others to tell us “Well done! You did a great job there.” when we really ought to take responsibility of telling ourselves that. Others may be happy to oblige our need, or they may sense it as ‘neediness’ (depending on their own issues) and back away. If they oblige our need for reassurance we may become dependent on them; if they back away this will just reinforce the negative voices of our inner dialog that tell us (wrongly) that we are unworthy. If this happens, after we spend some time licking our wounds, those negative voices may send us scurrying off in another attempt to find someone to contradict our sense of lack.
Negative inner voices can also be behind addictions, cravings and other odd behaviour. If we feel that we don’t know how to handle our negative inner critic then we tend to look for ways of numbing ourselves in an attempt not to hear them or be affected by them. Sometimes it is like having a negative parrot sitting on our shoulder that has little or nothing good to say about us. However, there is a solution.
The cause of negative inner dialog can be complex and involved. However, we don’t necessarily need to get into all of that. We can handle it head-on right here and now. We can do so by beginning to observe what is going on inside us in a detached way and then beginning to create positive patterns and thoughts that create a healthy inner life. The following is just one way to go about this. If the method shown does not appeal to you skip to the end to see the list of books and other resources that you could use.
Creating a Healthy Relationship with Ourselves
(You will need a pen or pencil, some sheets of blank paper and about an hour to do this exercise)
What are the most negative things you think or believe about yourself? Write a short list:
I am too…
I never …
I always …
I wish I would …
Why do I let ….
Go through the list – you did remember to keep it short didn’t you? 😉 .
1) Title a piece of paper “Observations”. Number the thoughts on your list and quickly go through each one as follows (without lingering more than a few minutes on each one).
As you read them listen and discover if you can hear the type of voice that is telling you this. Is it male or female? How does it sound. Is it angry, judgemental, critical, sad or depressed? Does the voice sound like someone you know? As you go through them one at a time, write your observations about the thought and its number on your Observation sheet. Leave a couple of lines of space at the bottom of each observation as we will need that for step 2. If nothing in particular occurs to you about each thought, no problem just move on to the next part.
2) Go through your list again of thoughts again. What kind of mood or feelings comes with the thought? You can express these as emotions (anger, sadness, isolation) or as descriptions (dark grey feeling, cold blue sensation, sticky dark mud) whatever seems natural to you. Add these additional observations on your Observation sheet in space you left below each initial observation. Again, don’t linger for more than a few minutes on each one and move on if you feel stuck.
3) Title another piece of paper “Positive”. Reverse the thoughts you wrote down earlier so that each negative thought is expressed as a positive thought and write it and a positive format on your Positive sheet.
Note: An objection you may have to doing this is that you may feel that the positive version is ‘not true’. For example you may feel that reversing “I am ugly.” so that it becomes “I am beautiful” is telling yourself a lie. The point is that inner states are a very different issue from our physical body image. I may look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame having a bad hair day, or The Elephant Man with a runny nose, but that does not make me ugly. It might make my body unsightly, but that is not me. This is a very important distinction. Our beliefs about ourselves often get mixed up with our beliefs about our body. You can believe anything you like about your body, because if your inner state is healthy it will not make a whole lot of difference. After all the Elephant Man was a popular and sought after person renowned for his charm, surely you can do even better?
– “I am so stupid.” becomes “I am so smart.”
– “I am alI hate myself.” becomes “I love myself.”
– “I am too short.” Becomes “I am the perfect height.”
– “I look awful.” becomes “I look wonderful.”
– “I have no friends.” becomes “I have lots of friends.”
Do this for all the thoughts you wrote earlier and then go to the next step.
Note: What you have just done in creating your Positive list is create a set of positive thoughts that directly match what you need to hear in order to have more positive feelings about yourself. It comprises things that you need to be told that you will unconsciously need others to ‘tell’ you (in words or deeds) in order to feel fulfilled. The next step is to tell yourself these things so you can claim your independence and become more able to give. This is all about Fake it till you make it.
4) Using another piece of paper (you may want one piece of paper per thought), or write the thought from your Positive list 6 times or so at your own pace.
What feelings and thoughts come up when you do this?
Write them down on the paper too:
If a strong negative thought come up, write it down on the paper too then carefully and deliberately score it out and write the positive thought again below it. Don’t be surprised if you run need a lot of paper to do this exercise!
If you feel really stuck with making any progress with getting a positive feeling or response from writing your positive thought, see how you feel about going further. If you are not ready to go deeper then start working on the next thought on your list.
Keep doing this till you get either a positive response to write down (in which case move onto the next thought on your Positive list), or you run out of time.
That is your first session over. For the next session you can either start from the beginning again (recreating your list of negatives, reversing them etc.) or you can continue where you left off.
Try and do this at least once a day for a week (preferably for a month) and you will see results gradually start to appear in all aspects of your life. You may not get a breakthrough in you first session, but you will start to feel better fairly quickly. Your dreams will change for the better, your sleep will improve, your energy level will move up a notch or two You will begin to realise how much energy was being taken up by the negative aspects of your inner dialog and how freeing yourself from that releases a lot of energy and good feelings for other things.
In time you will become more able to give yourself what you need. You will be able to approach others with a sense of being filled up with good feelings that you want to share. Others will sense this and will respond positively.
You may want to spend some sessions focussing on specific issues like relationships, work or money and to create a reveres your thinking and beliefs about yourself in those areas. You may want to make or buy a tape of positive affirmations, or some form of talking book on positive thinking, that you can listen to at home, or while travelling to work.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves is check out the self help section of a bookstore or two and see what grabs us. Reading a book, or listening to a CD, or download, which makes very positive assumptions about human nature is very life affirming and can help us lift our spirits directly and indirectly just by the nature of the content. I may seem challenging at first, if we are not accustomed to this kind of material, but getting accustomed to any kind of input which encourages us to develop our potential is surely a good thing.
Here are a few ideas of things which might work for you:
What to Say When You Talk to Your Self — by Shad Helmstetter
(Goes in-depth into how to create a positive inner dialog).
You Can Heal Your Life — by Louise L. Hay
(A real classic on the theme of self healing – in the widest sense of the term).
Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting: The Astonishing Power of Feelings — by Lynn Grabhorn
(brings together many different principles in a simple yet powerful combination.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway — by Susan Jeffers.
(Another classic in the self-help field.)