Why does negativity stick? Why, when something negative crosses your path, do you feel upset and why does it linger? It seems too often that people define themselves based on the negative things that happened in their lives and on a daily basis. The positive things just roll off their backs and are forgotten. It should really be the other way around! Self-worth is not based on what has happened to you, unless you have decided to base your self-worth on those events. So then why do certain events or people seem so negative anyway?? This is part of jealousy!
Recently a couple seeking marriage counseling sat down and started listing their grievances. The husband was having a tough time understanding why his wife felt so much jealousy towards other people in their lives. In twenty-five years of marriage, he has felt helpless to do anything to change her perspective and has been unsuccessful in stopping her constant concern about comparing herself to others. They often argue after leaving social functions. He says he never sees the conflict coming, that everything seems to be going well of an evening until the ride home or the next day, when his wife will complain to him that she had a terrible time. She would complain about not being able to talk as much as he did to people, or say that her husband didn’t take as many pictures of her as he did of family members. Either way, she said she would feel slighted and needed him to step up and defend her or make sure she was taken care of instead of allowing these “negative” things to happen. Needless to say, the husband is feeling pretty worn out and resentful after all these years and confused about what to do.
What he doesn’t understand is that his rescuing of his wife’s issues has enabled her to remain stuck and trapped in the negative story she tells to herself. She isn’t able to process her pain and understand herself when her enabler steps in and rescues her from her negative feelings. She has been able to continue seeing herself as less than other people. What story do you tell yourself and others about you? Do you feel like you have to explain yourself or defend yourself when you meet people? Do you feel shame, guilt, or anxiety around others? Are you constantly worried about being accepted or liked? Do you mask your anxiety with humor or being overly generous with yourself to be kind to others? Do you feel like you bend and reshape yourself to make other people happy? Maybe it’s because you aren’t being positive about yourself and that’s about your shame. If you feel like you are not being true to who you are when you interact with others, then you are not giving yourself permission to be yourself. This creates abandonment feelings and experiences.
If you spent much of your childhood feeling like your parents didn’t approve of you, if you rebelled against everything, or if you just felt invisible, then you could be feeling shame and abandonment when you are around other people. This client is experiencing childhood shame and abandonment, re-enacting her issues constantly in her family and at social functions. Her negative concept of herself is based on her childhood experiences and there isn’t enough her husband can do to alleviate that for her. She has to address her inability to feel love and acceptance as her issue and not make it about other people or the outside world. She is being a prisoner to her negativity about herself. She struggles to remember the love and support she has around her when she goes through these moments. When this continues for twenty-five years and everyone around her is tired of feeling like they walk on eggshells all the time, its time for wife to start looking into what this lack of trust and shame is about instead of bandaging it with other people.
Her issues are based on unresolved childhood relationships and experiences. She focused on the painful situations because they caused her pain and discomfort as a little girl. The negativity sticks because this is her belief about herself and its been there a long time. What experiences dictate your self-worth? It’s important to know because these will eventually dictate your outcomes in life. Where do you invest your time? Are you constantly beating up on yourself and telling people all the things you do wrong or downplay your gifts in an effort to make other people like you? Do you try hard to be more competent so other people like you? What you divulge to others says a lot about what you believe about yourself. You could be drawing more negativity to yourself without your realization. You could be stirring chaos in your life by causing chaos in your marriage and in your interpersonal relationships if you feel chaotic and don’t trust yourself on the inside.
Where does all this internal conflict come from? It comes from your belief about yourself. It comes from a core belief system that you installed the moment you decided that you were not good enough to be yourself because of something that happened or something someone said to you. This is stinkin’ thinkin’ and will continue to draw negativity and the opposite of what you desire out of your life. You are the one who has decided that this is your story. You have decided that there is a profound negative statement about your self-worth.
If this is happening to you, then you need to get into recovery.