The Biggest Source of Internal Negativity—Childhood Trauma
There is abundant data out there to tell you that more likely than not, the deepest source of our directionless anxieties and internalized negativity can usually be traced back to our childhoods. Among all bad experiences suffered, the deepest are those suffered during early years. A child’s worldview is soft and impressionable. Adverse childhood experiences or harsh upbringing have lasting effects on our behavior as adults and create dysfunctional thought patterns in our minds.
Research suggests that having an extremely critical mother or an overtly punitive father can lead to multiple disorders in children: anxiety issues, low self-esteem, catastrophizing, etc.
Children who suffer harsh criticism or extreme control at the hands of their parents tend to internalize this negativity, which affects their self-perception, tilting their worldview toward the negative at a relatively early age. This changed thinking pattern leads to emotional dysfunction and social anxiety in adulthood.
So, that rebuking voice inside your head telling you that you’re not worth it? It probably used to be an overindulging mother, a controlling father, or your forever-clucking school teacher’s voice that kept projecting negativity upon your vulnerable mind.
Practically Dealing with Internal Negativity
How do you overcome negativity ingrained inside you by default?
1. Understand its source.
Alain de Botton offers timeless advice when he says that it is paramount that you first understand the root of this negativity within you. Get all the insight you can from books and therapy.
A helpful technique I have devised is to view our emotional assailant with an alternate point of view. Instead of viewing your parent or teacher from the eyes of a hurt or neglected child, view them from an objective point of view as flawed human beings who did the best they could, given their financial and emotional limitations. Understand that your perpetrator simply acted within the confines of their diminished mental maturity.
2. Warn your peeps.
Warn your loved ones and close friends about what you have been through so they can empathize with you. Admit your insecurities and emotional shortcomings to them. Invite their understanding.
Forgive your emotional perpetrator. Every irritating fault in another person has a long history behind it. They became like this because of flaws in their development, which they did not chose for themselves. Apply this to yourself, as well as the person who raised you to be this way and those who treated you with nastiness at times. To be able to forgive, you need to understand that behind every fallacy or cruelty, there is a decisive trauma encountered before someone could cope with it properly.
I have devised a little exercise that has greatly helped me in understanding my own issues:
1. On a paper, list the top three reasons/events/episodes of your life that bother you—like, really disturb and hurt you. Give a brief description of each.
2. Write down the effect of each incident in your present perception and thought process.
3. Give this to your partner or any other trusted person in your life.
4. Take their feedback.
Key Takeaways That You Can Pin Up
Alain surmises his technique of forgiveness in the perfect manner: Forgiveness relies on a sense that bad behavior is a sign of suffering rather than malice. Understand that and use it to your advantage.
Tomorrow, we will examine the most continuous and sometimes almost inescapable sources of negativity: our workplace.
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