Kelvin’s life was in shambles once again. The past 30 years of his adulthood resulted in three divorces with children from each marriage, five significant career changes, and several moves across the country. As he moved back into his parent’s house for the fourth time in his adult life, he knew he needed to change.
This was a revelation for him. In the past, the change had been about his ex-wives, kids, job, and even location. Now it was going to be about him. So he willingly and openly went to counseling, instead of feeling forced into it.
The first area he needed to tackle was his own destructive thoughts. These opinions became beliefs and sometimes self-fulling prophesies. The problem was that his thoughts were rooted in lies that he held onto as if they were gold. And the result brought chaos to his life. This is his list.
- “That didn’t happen.” Denial is the most potent defense mechanism because it can erase a traumatic moment as if it never happened. The problem is that whatever is denied becomes a haunting, magically appearing out of nowhere and causing destruction.
- “It wasn’t that bad.” Minimizing difficult circumstances sounds good initially because there is some acknowledgment of the problem. However, dismissing intense feelings reinforces stuffing them which leads to explosions later.
- “It was the worst thing ever.” Making a mountain out of a molehill is equally problematic. By increasing the size of an event, thought, or feeling, they can become larger than life.
- “I handled that well.” When the only counsel a person has is their own self, they tend to believe their version of what happened. Getting outside perspective and feedback from others improves self-awareness.
- “I’m worthless.” This particular statement is usually the result of some trauma between the ages of six and twelve. Unresolved pain can lead to a lifetime of suffering.
- “I’m the dumbest person.” This belief originated from someone else. It could be a parent, teacher, friend, student, or partner who repeated this until it was wrongly absorbed as truth.
- “No one can ever love me.” Hidden shame, grief, or guilt causes a person to believe that they are unlovable. Bringing the issue out in the open resolves this quickly.
- “I’ll never love again.” When a heart is broken, a person believes that they will never find love again. But love isn’t something you catch, it is something you give. The only limitation in loving is the one a person places on themselves.
- “Life isn’t worth living.” Every life has good and bad times, times of peace and war, and times of joy and sorrow. What makes the good, peaceful, and joyful times so enjoyable is the contrast to the bad, warring, and sorrowful times.
- “I didn’t do anything wrong.” While a person’s actions might be correct, the thoughts behind it might not be. Self-awareness looks for ways to improve, not to escape responsibility.
- “It’s all my fault.” Accepting unnecessary responsibility for a trauma, event, or circumstance removes the accountability of others. This can be very damaging to their own growth and development.
- “I have no choice.” One of the biggest lies is the belief that there are no options. Even people in terrible circumstances such as concentration camps, false imprisonment, and severe abuse have options in what they absorb, believe, and accept as truth.
- “I have no self-control.” This is used to diminish a person’s responsibility for behavior that is problematic. Addicts frequently say this so they can justify their poor decisions.
- “It’s not my fault I reacted that way.” By casting blame on others for the poor reaction, a person falsely dismisses their responsibility while simultaneously holding others accountable.
- “I can’t help it.” As soon as a person says this, they have limited their choices to a few poor options. Just by saying the reverse, a person can open themselves up to more possibilities.
- “I have to have …” The sentence can be completed with a person, thing, money, or circumstance. Ironically, even when these items are obtained, there is a transfer to the next big item instead of finding satisfaction from within.
- “If only I had done …” The assumption of “if only” statements are that things could be different if they had responded another way. This is not always the case; sometimes the end result would still be the same regardless of the “if only”.
- “I’m not good at anything.” Being good at something requires effort. Talent will only take a person so far, the rest is all hard work.
- “I have no purpose/passion/mission.” One of the lies of our society is that everyone needs to find their purpose/passion/mission to live life fully. A person can have a very full life while discovering their passion. Often this is not realized until a person is at the end of their career, not at the beginning.
- “I’ll never be good enough.” This is another lie that is rooted in trauma between the ages of two and five. Healing from this trauma and restating the reverse can resolve this lie.
Once Kelvin confronted the lies he believed, he was able to counteract them and move forward healthily.