Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Negative Messages and Their Continued Influence on You

Negative message
Negative messages (Ricky Leong)
by Marilyn L Davis

Negative messages are spoken or acted out in families, society, school playgrounds and socially. These messages can have a detrimental or harmful effect on you as an adult.

If you grew up in a family or had bullies in school who shamed you, sometimes for aspects about yourself that were beyond your control, you may have low self-esteem.

You may also have participated in activities in your life that further reinforce some of these messages about your character.

People can use Negative Messages as an excuse to stay the same. Simply because someone told you that you would never amount to anything denies your ability to choose what you are or will become.

Individuals will often say that they have a hard time getting over these messages, yet, this is sometimes a selective choice in which messages to keep as part of their belief, and which messages to discard.

Therefore, you can get over other messages if your motive is to get over them.

I had red hair and freckles as a child. I heard from cousins and on the playground, "I would rather be dead than red on the head" as well as the question, "Don't those spots wash off your face." I clearly heard negative messages about coloring that I could not change.

Only when my father got me a poem about a face without freckles being like a sky without stars did I learn to accept my coloring. Granted, not everyone is going to have a father that finds a poem to refute a negative message.

However, you can make the effort for yourself to change the mindset if you find that there are negative messages holding you back. In recovery, you can evaluate the negative messages, determine if they have merit or truth, and discontinue your belief in them if they are invalid or no longer true.

This is a partial list of Negative Messages. Make a list of the personal negative messages that hold you back or erode your self-esteem. Examine them to see how have affected you and make an effort to change your mindset about them.

  • All children are ___
  • All men are ____
  • All women are ____
  • Always be happy
  • Always be in control
  • Avoid conflict at all costs
  • Do not get angry
  • Do as I say, not as I do
  • Do not ever embarrass the family
  • Do not express your feelings
  • Do not question, just follow the family rules
  • I wish you were more like your brother/sister
  • It's your fault that I am abusing you
  • Keep all family secrets
  • We don't discuss bad things in our family
  • You are just like ____
  • You deserved it
  • You will never amount to anything

Taking the time to examine these old negative messages can help you see exactly how much influence they have had on you. For many people, until they take the time to remember and examine these negative messages, they do not realize that their "belief" in some aspects of themselves is actually based on something that was said to them when they were a child; an opinion that may or may not have anything to do with the person that they are today

Example: There was a very caring man who was the younger son. When he was five, his twenty-year old brother died from a gunshot wound, suffered in a hunting accident.

He was sent away to live with his grandparents because his mother was too "fragile" to raise him after the death of her other son. His grandfather thought he was lazy around the farm, although his grandmother made it a point to say he just didn't know how to tend to large animals.

His grandfather would comment on how much his deceased brother understood farming, hunting, and fishing, how he had been a "real man, cut down too soon."

He never returned home to live as "fragile" turned out to be a mental health diagnosis and hospitalizations for his mother, although no one told him. His belief about himself was that he was not loved enough to come home, and not good enough to feel comfortable with his grandfather.

Twenty years later, his grandfather willed the property to this man, because he was the "one grandchild who valued the land".

Part of the point of this example is that messages are sometimes unspoken, not fully explained, or there may be conflicting messages, but in all of this, there are messages that have impact, on you at either at the time they were said, or in later years.

Reflect on your own negative messages and see how they impact you today; change them if they are invalid and hold you back from becoming the person that you want to be.

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