9 Self-defeating Beliefs

If you’ve been following Monday’s blogs, you will have learned lots about various forms of child abuse.  Part of my purpose in sharing this painful, stark information is to provide easy to read information about this disturbing topic.  But no dialogue can be one sided.  So I’ve decided to make Wednesdays the Day of Outcomes.  It will offer simple, short thoughts on the results in adults from childhood abuse and/or how to overcome these issues and challenges.  None of us has all of these beliefs all of the time, but they often persist in some variation for years.

  1.  I am responsible for everyone else’s emotional state.  Happy, sad, grouchy or euphoric, others’ moods always develop in response to something I’ve said or done.  Even if I can’t figure out the connection, your mood is my fault.
  2. It is selfish to want things for myself, whether it’s time, things, accomplishments or values.  In the same vein, I must never speak up for myself.  I must always put others first because they are more deserving of me.  Or because kindness is a virtue.  Or self-sacrificing is always rewarded later.
  3. I must be perfect in appearance, work ethic, housekeeping, blogging…anything and everything.  Anything less than perfection means I’m a failure.  Fear of failure always accompanies this belief so we seldom try new things.  Anyone have trouble blogging the first few times or refusing to blog because they didn’t know how?  How about dance lessons?  Mountain climbing? Yoga? (Ever wonder about the roots of eating disorders?)
  4. There is nothing worse than appearing stupid.  Therefore I must be an expert on all topics.  Alternately, if I know I am stupid, I can flaunt and accept that judgement as a reason not to try new things. Or to push myself.
  5. The past is the perfect predictor of the future.  What was will always be and there’s noopportunity to change.
  6. I am not enough.  No matter what I do or how hard I try, I am never enough.  Put in your own descriptor of enough:  pretty, rich, smart, honest…etc etc.  It doesn’t matter the criteria, I’m never enough.  (Know anyone with more education than any individual needs?)
  7. Along with not being enough, I can’t trust myself.  I’m not smart enough or experienced enough or cool enough or…whatever enough to be able to trust myself.
  8. It is wrong, rude and/or selfish to ask directly for what I want.  I could never put my loved ones in a situation where they’d have to show how they feel about me by saying “No” in response to a request.  Besides, if they love me, they’ll know what I want.  Along with this, I will usually use an associate (a loved one is common) as an accomplice, getting them to deliver the information of what I want to do, when others are involved.
  9. Since I was victimized, it is clear there is something wrong with me, i.e., I am unlovable even by myself.    Anyone who says they love me is lying and is waiting for a chance to hurt me.  I will vigilantly watch them to protect myself. (Also related to an inability to trust myself to find a caring, kind partner.)

Not every abused adult has all of these all of the times, but they do show up regularly, in different intensities.  Do you see little snippets of yourself?  Of course you do.  These are part of the human condition for most of us.  But those who were abused as children are emotionally handicapped by these beliefs – their lives and experiences limited.

About Louise Behiel

Author, coach, therapist, mother and grandmother. I'm on a spiritual journey and consciously work to grow every day.
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13 Responses to 9 Self-defeating Beliefs

  1. Oh wow, when you put it that way… Yes, easy to see little snippets here and there. Funny how unreasonable expectations seem perfectly normal when applied from the inside. Thank you, Louise, a wonderfully insightful and healing post.

  2. Louise,
    This was a wonderfully informative post. And though I wasn’t abused as a child, (my family was reason they created the word dysfunctional) I was witness to some of my mother’s abusive relationships and also found my way into several of my own mentally abusive relationships. Your bullets here are quite familiar to me. I see myself at different times of my life in them all. I’ve been fortunate to have overcome some of them, but I’m still working towards the others. It takes time to heal wounds of so long ago. I’m making progress with my baby steps and I’m grateful to be doing so when so many others are unable to.
    Thanks for sharing this!

  3. This is such a wonderful post, Louise. All your therapy posts are so good. And, yes, I see more than snippets in myself for just about every one of the points above. Thanks for reminding me that they are beliefs, not facts.

  4. DL Snow says:

    Louise, these are such thoughtful, insightful posts. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  5. Wow Louise, what a strong but uplifting message. How many people are walking around with this baggage, eh? You nailed it on this post. You are amazing with people Louise. You have got quite a background. Thanks for using it for our benefit. 🙂

  6. Wow, I’ve got chills and tears from this post. #6, 7, & 9 are totally me. I never associated it with the abuse I suffered as a kid. I just thought it was the way I am, but I can totally see where I would feel this way because of what happened to me. Even though I know it wasn’t my fault, I still tell myself hurtful things. It’s a long process, but I’m learning to tune out the negative and replace it with something positive. This series has been difficult to read, but I think it’s so important to face all aspects of abuse and learn to recognize the signs.

  7. Tameri, I’m sorry about your childhood abuse. I’m so glad you’re learning to tune out the negative and replace it with the positive. I appreciate that you’ve hung in with this difficult series. One more difficult post, on sexual abuse, and then we can move forward into healing and helping information. Thanks for valuing yourself enough to hang in with us. be well

  8. SJ Driscoll says:

    Ugh, I get five out of nine–at least for how I was in the past. I was never abused, just brought up in a way that didn’t at all acknowledge my nature.

    My husband, who was a family court psychotherapist for many years, has helped me put down a lot of my burden. Studying philosophy has also helped me enormously.

    BTW, Louise, WHAT is a Carwackian? It sounds painful!

    • I’m so glad you found a loving husband who can help you put down those burdens. Abuse is not the only way we get these false beliefs as you say.

      a carwackian is a fellow member of CARWA – the calgary association of the Romance Writers of America, a writing chapter I founded 9 years ago.

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