The fifth and most foundational barrier to love is OUR OLD CORE BELIEFS ABOUT LOVE. The beliefs that we operate out of become the building blocks to how we conceptualize our lives and who we are in the world. They become our identity. These beliefs are formed early in our lives, sometimes before we can even talk. They become pervasive in our experience of who we are, and what we can expect from life. This is not because these beliefs are true, as much as, given that we are in a constant state of creating our lives out of our words, thoughts, feelings and actions, they become true for us because we believed it to be so.
For example, what I identified in doing this work was that around the age of 7 I learned from my parents that my younger brother had a much higher IQ than me and most humans, and I made that mean that since I’m not extra smart in the ways that he is smart then I must be stupid so how could I even be good enough. And over time this identity of not being enough deepened and grew to include beliefs that I was invisible and not safe to be seen and heard in the world. And I became aware of how these false beliefs were generational, in large part learned from the way my parents and grandparents felt about themselves and interacted in life.
My mentor Katherine Woodward Thomas, writes in her book Calling in the One, “As you might imagine, the beliefs we hold, particularly when they are unconscious and unidentified, can wreak absolute havoc with our love lives. For not only do we live our lives in reaction to these beliefs (e.g., the woman who secretly believes she’s worthless and marries a man she doesn’t love for his wealth), but also because we are constantly finding ways to validate and confirm these beliefs, in spite of ourselves.” What beliefs do you hold around yourself, love and life that are interfering with your love life?
What big disappointments occurred in your childhood that negatively impacted your beliefs about you? One big lie many kids tell themselves after a divorce or one parent leaves is that they are unworthy of love. They will internalize that their parent left because of them. Had their parent loved them, they would not have left, therefore, “I must be unlovable!” That nasty little lie she has secretly developed about herself, affects EVERY aspect of her life including developing and maintaining close friendships. She might stop taking chances in life and settle for the safe choices such as not trying out of the lead in the school play or choosing not to go to college when she had a full-ride scholarship, and it will certainly impact the way she interacts with her love-interests.
When that tape runs in your head in the background of your daily life, what is it saying to you? Most people will tend towards the negative. Do any of these sound familiar? I am:
- A brat
- A loser
- A hot mess
Consider that your best friend came to you and shared that he/she is a desperate, stupid, dirt-bag and feels completely un-lovable? How would you respond? I bet you would say with conviction, “that is NOT true!” And, it is not true about you either.
Now that you have identified your negative self-talk and you have a feel for how and when these non-truths became part of your identity, can you go back and reframe the situation that started this belief? As kids, we think the world revolves around us. Now that we are all adults we know that sometimes our actions have unintended consequences, even when we are doing the best we can. Now, go search for evidence that whatever your old beliefs around love (yourself) are, they are not true! And, choose new, healthy, compassion-oriented beliefs about yourself.