As children, when something ‘bad’ happened, we looked around for a reason that ‘made sense’ to explain our feelings, the whys and hows, etc. We did this to work out what we needed to be and do in the future to avoid experiencing that negative outcome again. Kids see themselves as the focal point of everything. Invariably, we found reasons that pointed to some error on our part. We decided it was our fault for not being “good enough” in some way.

Similarly, when we experienced praise (or anything else good), if we perceived it to be unexpected, unusual or like a sign of our worth and ‘goodness’, we likely placed a great deal of emphasis on external praise and validation. It taught us to associate performing and appeasing with generating good feelings. We also learned to associate our efforts with outcomes. When things didn’t go as expected, we assumed we hadn’t tried, been or done enough.

Once we applied what ‘made sense’ a couple of times, these became our reasoning habits aka beliefs. We then defaulted to these automatically regardless of the truth. 

From there, we adjusted our subsequent thinking and behaviour to fit with the belief(s). It was our hope that we could either avoid an outcome or generate a repeat of good feelings. And lather, rinse, repeat.

When you recognise that there are certain inner narratives influencing your self-image, including your perception of your options and opportunities, and that there’s an underlying unrealistic expectation of perfection that results in blaming disappointments on not being “good enough”, you can see that you’ve been reinforcing reasoning habits and compounding what ‘made sense’ back then despite it not being factually correct and it keeping you small.

When was the last time you updated your reasoning?

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