Why does it always seem to come down to the same story?
I can want or do the thing (fill in the blank) as long as I feel bad about it (or punish myself) afterwards?
Why can I not just say 'this is how it is' and not berate myself? Why can I not leave qualifications behind, even if the 'thing' turns out to not work or be a mistake and not punish myself for my decision or desire to want it in the first place?
It comes back to history, as it always does. It comes down to belief, the sinister conditioning that affects every choice and decision I need to make.
Fundamentally, it comes down to this...I BELIEVE I AM BAD.
This is the story. I was the middle child, the trouble-maker, the one that got in trouble all the time. I was the one who stood up for myself, that hated secrets, that fought injustice and tried to set boundaries for myself. This made me BAD in the eyes of others and consequently made me carry BAD as a label, like an electronic fence to keep me in check against areas where I might offend others. BAD became my self-contained prison to keep me in line even against my own needs and desires.
“Don't be BAD”
“That's BAD if you do that”
“That's BAD if you don't do that”
“You can do that but make sure you feel BAD about it afterwards”
It's crazy how such a simple belief has had such vast power over my life! Some people would be hard pressed to associate that word with me, would even laugh at it, I know. I have trouble even swearing or getting angry. Yet, BAD informs every area of my life!
Every decision, no matter how big or how trivial, takes this belief that I'm bad into account. Maybe that's why I am notoriously bad at making decisions? The decision is less about the choice that I make and more about the belief about the person making it.
Change plans for something unexpected that will bring you joy? Sure, but make sure to feel bad about it. Oh, and also make such you perceive the other person's reactions in the process.
Spend money without remembering that bill payment and now you're short? Make sure you really berate yourself for that one, you terrible person!
Set a boundary that puts your health and happiness first? Don't you dare feel good about that you selfish bitch! You need to put others first, be a martyr, and care what other people think.
I realize that BAD is both my filter and my fear.
I desperately don't want to be perceived as bad because of all of the ramifications that would mean. The power to control me has lived with other people and their ability to give or withhold love. Yet I myself give and withhold that love, FROM MYSELF, for the very same reason! It's crazy!
Anyways, all of this came from a counselling appointment today, as all the great questions usually do. So what am I going to do with it all? That is the question.
On the drive home, I thought about how I can change this belief in my life. What if I simply allowed myself, gave myself permission to exist as an imperfect human being? What if I let go of the label and judgment of bad and simply was just me? What if I made a decision and just said, good, bad, who knows and didn't punish myself as part of the process? What if I let others have their own reactions and opinions and perceptions and didn't automatically assume that they think I'm bad? What if I didn't either?
I love how the mind works, and it will always fascinate me...what a journey this life is.
** Oh, and the reason that this came up today..it's all good, there was no need to worry, lol.
Tracy Kelly is a writer and artist from London, Ontario Canada who manages Anxiety, Depression and Fibromyalgia.