Change happens when we change the way we think about ourselves.
In the world of personal development and self-growth, the basic principle is to discern what it is about ourselves that needs changing – hence the words “personal” and “self”. This is a continual theme in my articles. The opening quote is one of my favorites as well as one which I pen in every one of my books I sell. Perhaps I emphasize how we think about ourselves so much because it was a huge stumbling block to my own personal growth.
In 2012, when my 22-year marriage was hanging by a thread, I searched for a therapist to see if this once-happy union could be saved. After setting the appointment, I recall thinking, “I don’t want to go in there, lie on a couch and have him ask me a bunch of questions about my childhood.” The circumstances were dire and grave. I didn’t have time to go into all that malarkey. I needed a solution now!
It makes me chuckle when I remember that demand. Although the relationship could not be saved, all of my issues contributing to the breakup were basically caused by how I learned to think when I was a child. Yes, you read that correctly, “how I learned to think.” I may not be using the proper neurological or psychological terms but when we are young we develop behavioral models which I call “default patterns” that innately dictate certain actions and reactions in our day-to-day decisions.
At an early age, I was very worried about doing the wrong thing and looked to others not only for advice but also to tell me what I needed to do. Whether it was my mother, teacher, coach, or minister, for some reason, I didn’t believe that I could find those answers from within and therefore had to be told what to do. Needless to say, I was mostly an obedient child.
This, however, created a tremendous lack of self-confidence when it came to making life choices and decisions, constantly seeking the approval of others before moving forward. It was not a daily occurrence but happened in all the major decisions. This kind of thinking became my “default pattern” so it felt “normal” for me to react in this way.
Not realizing this was the case when I got married those patterns remained. My wife at the time was a recently divorced, mother of three, attractive, and had much more worldly knowledge than I. My thinking was, “tell me what I need to do to be a good husband, father, and provider.” There were many times when something as simple as where should we go to dinner was a mind-game for me trying to think what she would want to eat.
These kinds of self-limiting patterns spring from negative ideas that we learn to believe about who we are – which by the way, is how I define shame. Over the next few articles, we’ll discuss ways of how and why these patterns develop and most importantly, how they can be changed and healed. My hope is that you’ll discover some disruptive pattern that you had no idea existed and learn to change the way you think about you.