Why are so many people not fulfilling their potential? What is causing them to be unhappy, and to behave in destructive ways?
These questions plagued me, and I was determined to find the answers. As a practicing Marriage, Family, Therapist, my counseling office served as a “research laboratory.” My subjects, the numerous troubled clients of all ages, offered me many opportunities to collect valuable data. I was fascinated with the results.
Basically, this was my scientific approach. I asked the clients to close their eyes, and to visualize a number from one to ten, ten being high, that would rate their self-esteem. They often reported seeing numbers from one to six.
Then I suggested, “Imagine that the person who you have issues with is standing in front of you. Tell that person what you are upset about.” After they expressed all their thoughts and feelings, I continued, “Now say, when you do that I decide that I am _____ and finish the sentence.”
To my surprise, 99% of the clients completed the statement with the following negative thoughts: “I’m deciding that I’m bad, unworthy, not good enough, unimportant, unlovable, stupid, and ugly, or not okay.”
These decisions, I discovered, are the basic causes of our low self-esteem. These insidious beliefs in our subconscious create a great deal of pain in our lives. Even though in reality, FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real, we believe these untruths and act accordingly.
For example, if a woman is convinced that she is stupid, she is likely to demonstrate ineptness in her job. If a man feels he is bad, his behavior will be consistent with his belief.
It is interesting to note that even though two people may feel they are bad, their behavior can be the exact opposite. One may act very shy, while another extremely aggressive. The same root, just different branches.
Where do these destructive, debilitating beliefs come from? I discovered the answer to that question with the following process I developed called, HART: Holistic and Rapid Transformation. Once a client uncovered their negative belief, I said, “Allow yourself to go back to the time when you made that negative decision.” Often, they would recall an incident when they were five-years-old or younger, or in elementary school.
For example, Karin, an unhappy and overweight thirty-six-year-old woman, recalled a time when she was three years old and her father left her mother. Karin was devastated, and she decided that she must be not good enough, bad and unlovable.
Typical of a young child, Karin took total responsibility for her parents divorce. As a result, her negative beliefs deep in her unconscious affected her self-esteem. Consequently, adult Karin was unsuccessful in her relationships, career and in maintaining her ideal weight. Her guilt feelings and her debilitating negative thoughts sabotaged all her efforts. Karin was definitely not fulfilling her potential.
Once I helped Karin heal her inner child, and realize the truth that she was good enough, lovable, and a good person no matter what anyone said or did, she felt better. At the end of the session, Karin rated her self-esteem higher than at the beginning.
In summary, the data led me to conclude that we make decisions from our experiences. Negative experiences cause us to make negative decisions which lead us to negative behavior. Of course, the opposite is also true.
Therefore, it is important for all of us to experience many positive interactions so that we can make positive decisions, feel good about ourselves and be able to act in healthy, constructive ways.
The clients also taught me that we are unique but our problems are not. Troubled adults and children are all struggling with similar negative decisions which cause them their problems. The negative thoughts are like roots of a tree, buried in the ground, buried in the unconscious. The branches of the tree represent what we can see, the symptoms.
Some examples of how people express their negative beliefs are: career and relationship problems, poor grades, ill health, and drugs and alcohol (an attempt to numb and drown the painful negative thoughts).
When we all believe the truth that is expressed on the below poster, our self-esteem will be high, we will rate ourselves as tens, and we will fulfill our unlimited potential.
The Truth Is
No matter what anyone says or does,
I am Okay, Worthy, Lovable, Attractive, Important, Intelligent & Good Enough.
I am a good person, and I deserve to be Happy, Healthy, and Successful!