Two ladies wrote of book now offered by Focus on the Family which identified 4 very real problems of thinking and behavior that drove them so badly that one of them engaged in illegal activity and the other experienced a failed marriage, and it was disclosed that early, during their youth-these thoughts and behaviors were occurring due to emotions that were harmed. One of the women spoke of how she could be in a roof filled with family yet thought of herself as invisible which resulted in her thought that she was not good enough. Due to that belief (a very real belief) she began seeking responses from others to meet her needs. She exclaimed, "I would do whatever it took to make people accept me!" She also talked of how unbalanced the level of exhausting and continued working to beat the odds, to climb the ladder, to be the best, yet not finding fulfillment. As she found herself willing to do something totally out of her character and illegal; she then knew something was very wrong.
She was at her lowest low-and had to do introspection of her heart and mind...why did she feel unworthy? Why was she driven to utter exhaustion to achieve? Why wasn't her many achievements unable to provide her those needs? She then came to a conclusion, "I yearned to hear from my mother, "I am proud of you!" And that statement needed to be without any-but, attached. Those buts renders any praise useless, but you sure would not listen, or but you were so defiant unlike your sisters; or but you did this-or that.....That book is entitled, "You Don't Have to Try so Hard." It was written by two Christian ladies who were plagued by Perfectionism, People Pleasing, Performance Driven, and Procrastination. Those interviewing them rightfully stated that the Bible covered every sin-naming it; and disclosed that we were to guard our hearts and minds; walking closely with God, being in His Word so as to be able to please Him and avoid-or flea from temptation; and endure the trials and tribulations. Brains think of one thing at a time. If we are thinking a positive thing-we cannot be thinking a negative thing at the same time. We are also told that as our minds are-so are we. Science also have more recently concluded the same about our thoughts. It is our thoughts about situations that actually drive our emotions and behavior.
In counseling, we then take this construct and we dive more deeply into how and why this works to bring light to one's understanding. We also provide definitions for the necessary thought distortions, defense mechanisms, and forms of manipulation that has to occur for the client to believe in their bullying thoughts to which they cling-ed to while being a victim. We locate the origination of those thoughts and how these were reinforced. Then we teach our clients how to stop, challenge, and reframe them into a more realistic and empowering tool to aid them in healing and change. Calmly we walk them through this process, give them homework to practice their new tools, and watch them change into courageous and empowered people. Prior to this process-they were people who wore a mask to project perfectionism; they labored to please (but to an exaggerated extent), and/or when they felt overwhelmed or feared rejection or failure-they may have been choosing to utilize procrastination to avoid the pain. Either method delivered a sense of guilt and shame, fueled with fear. Yet if we keep putting off and refusing to do the work that has a little pain or uncomfortable work now-then we will confront a huge monster of pain and overwhelming work ahead-and will not be equipped to manage it. However, when they learn the tools to change their "stinky thinking" then they find peace. We hear God most in the silence-or during despair; if we seek Him. When you do the work and face the smaller painful situations early on-then you build the tools to overcome obstacles and to rise above challenges.
I identified with those two ladies. Those who knew me as I was growing up could attest to my operating from 3 of those 4 P's on a continuum. I also felt invisible except when someone needed a scapegoat. I felt unworthy and unable to measure up to an impossible standard that I thought was expected from me. I was not my sisters or brother yet was told that I needed to be like them.
I am a strong willed individual that needed answers that would help me discern why I was expected or told to do this or that. This was seen as rebellious when my heart was not to rebel but to know why...and I needed to believe that other's way was better than my own...before I could resist an insatiable need to find out. The Lord was grounded in my heart from a very young age and I wanted to please Him which did save me from making many unwise choices during my youth: But I became one who had to earn His and all other's acceptance of me.
Some misinterpreted by need as conceit since I would tell of my achievements-when in fact-I felt as if I was not good enough and was in need of constant affirmation as I starved for attention and confirmation of being good enough. With this dark cloud over me; my judgment regarding relationships was clouded. I felt used and abused even-though I had given my all. It was not until I hit bottom; filled with resentment, anger, shame, guilt, and confusion as to how inept that I was as my best was never good enough-before I could be still (from all of the busy hustle) to listen.
As I walk with my clients in counseling; I speak with the knowledge and the absolute confidence and empathy towards my client's need to identify their "bully" inside of their heads, as we change the perception and heart. If you are now a victim of these bullies...then come in and let's work to free you. I know you are worthy even though you don't. I am here to help you re-write your story...With God's wisdom and presence; and proven scientific tools-we can find the real you. As with those ladies, an myself-we take comfort in Psalms 18 as we read: God delights in me....(the way I am) and He invites me to His table and family. Now that is awesome!
Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC