I sometimes choose fear and blame over love and joy. Perhaps, so do you.
Have you said these words recently?
“I am wrong,” “I made a mistake,” “I was thoughtless,” “I love you,” “I need you,” “I’m sorry.”
The words that reflect a willingness to show vulnerability are so difficult for some to say. Why is that?
According to Brene Brown, researcher of human emotion, we use protective mechanisms such as blame, perfection, or certainty/absolutes to numb our sense of vulnerability. The problem with numbing, says Brown, is that when we numb negative emotions, we also numb the positives ones like love, joy and connection to others.
Turns out, people who believe that they’re worthy of love and belonging are more willing to share their vulnerability. As a person used to never leave home without her emotional walls, I know that they are not erected intentionally. We just take them for granted, they’re how we roll, our M.O.
“I am worthy,” “I am enough,” “I am lovable.”
These truths are also so difficult for so many of us to really believe. Why?
So many of us feel, on some level, that these truths do not apply to us. We are the one exception to these otherwise universal truths. Our unacknowledged fears are those that are the most powerful, and therefore the most damaging. By identifying and challenging our previously-subconscious fears and assumptions, we can demystify and deflate their impact.
According to Tara Bennett Goleman, author of Emotional Alchemy, we have some combination of the following core beliefs and fears:
- Abandonment – we will be abandoned
- Subjugation – our needs are less important than others
- Deprivation – we will not get what we need (I’m especially fond of this one)
- Unlovability – we are worthy of love and
- Mistrust – we cannot trust others
These fears cause secondary fears regarding our interaction with the larger world including:
- Exclusion – we do not belong
- Vulnerability – catastrophe will occur
- Failure – we feel like a failure despite outward success
- Perfectionism – having unrealistically high expectations or
- Entitlement – feeling special and entitled.
In other words, our subconscious core beliefs such as unlovability may cause us to express those beliefs in a dysfunctional way such as perfectionism or entitlement.
These beliefs and fears are all lies. Dirty, rotten, stinkin’ lies. We are ALL worthy of being loved, listened to, cared for, nurtured and being able to trust, no matter what we’ve been told, what we have done, or what secrets we carry from our families or our own pasts. By failing to confront our subconscious lies, we deprive ourselves of both authentic connection to others and positive emotions like love and joy.
To make matters worse, we are predisposed to be hypersensitive to confirmatory cues that reinforce the fears. If we believe we are unlovable and someone shows disapproval, then we may blame them for being inconsiderate, judgmental or mean or turn the hate inward and lose our confidence. The infraction, perhaps inconsequential to someone else, is so hurtful because we are primed to find evidence of our unlovability, then believe it confirms our hidden flaws and destructive assumptions. This, of course, is a self-fulfilling prophecy since we are now acting unlovable by being so sensitive or defensive. This self-fulfilling pattern will occur as a result of any of our fears.
What are your inner lies? Which lies are you making your personal reality? If you think you don’t have any, then you’re lying to yourself. By avoiding the reality of your inner lies, you are also avoiding your joy and connection to others. Regarding the past, you can claim ignorance. What about the future?
Once you bring this decision to consciousness, it is really a no-brainer: “Let’s see, keep the story going that makes me and others miserable, or let it go and choose love and joy?”
Which do you choose?