Many people struggle with an internal "tape" playing in their mind. It's the tape that is often self-berating. The tape playing loud and clear when we lock the keys in the car or forget something we needed at home.
It's the unyielding voice inside telling us things such as: "You're dumb! You can't get anything right!!"
Where on earth does this unhelpful narrative come from?
Often it comes from a time and place long ago...A time and place we would like to convince ourselves is "in the past..." but really isn't.
Too often we try to push aside the difficult experiences we endured as children, and try to pretend those experiences have no effect on our adult, present-day life.
While we may tell ourselves "it doesn't matter, it was a long time ago," our body and mind remember. It is easy to forget that to a child--to ourselves as children--the world was a big place and we were completely dependent on others for caring and survival.
People have lots of messages from childhood.
Fortunately, some are positive and affirming.
Other messages are less so.
Some messages are very clear, others more ambiguous. These "behind the scenes" messages can lead to feelings of "not being good enough" or "never measuring up" or so many other self-limiting beliefs.
These messages can persist into adulthood and later crop up in our relationships with friends, spouses, coworkers, bosses, children, and everyone else around us!
And it's not just the negative tape that pops-up in our present lives. We may find ourselves triggered by something that happens now, but which brings up feelings about ourselves we experienced when we were much younger.
The negative tape runs and we hear all the old, inaccurate messages we have about ourselves.
Someone recently told me "no one gets through their childhood unscathed."
While I don't have any research to back that up, experience tells me there's a lot of truth to this statement.
In fact, there is substantial research about the ways "adverse childhood experiences" affect us into adulthood. The effects occur in more ways than many of us realize!
These adverse experiences affect not only or self-esteem and our beliefs about ourselves and the world--but also affect our physical health as adults!
Whether we like it or not, our childhood learning and experiences can continue to have an effect on our lives, on our physical and our mental health, and on the day-to-day decisions we make in adulthood.
This old learning intervenes no matter how much we would rather shove it into the past. Sometimes we don't even realize the outdated learning and old messages are there, affecting our decisions today.
If you notice you are struggling with a negative tape playing in your head...
or if you're struggling with something holding you back and you can't quite put your finger on it,
I encourage you to consider working with a skilled therapist to update those messages.
In particular, techniques such as EMDR can be very helpful in addressing and updating the inaccurate old learning we so often hold onto.
Just because you learned something, doesn't mean it is true or correct.
You can always learn something else.
You can always learn to love and to be yourself.