We build our self-image as a child based on the reflection we see in our parents eyes. As we grow and our sphere of contact increases, our peers, teachers, and even strangers influence our perception of self. If we’re lucky, our caretakers encourage us to form our own identity, love ourselves as we are, and reject the voices of outside influence. But many of us are not that lucky.
Many of us, especially those who struggle with addiction, wake up twenty, thirty, even forty years later and realize that the things we believe about ourselves are based on other opinions. We realize (hopefully) that the critical voice in our head sounds just like our mother/father/teacher – an endless loop of negative messages engrained in our subconscious. It doesn’t help that those who had abusive or challenging relationships as a child, tend to (subconsciously) seek out wound-mates who will perpetuate unhealthy cycles.
It’s very common for addicted individuals to feel like we don’t know who the hell we are. It’s no wonder. We are living in a (not so) funhouse of mirrors in which all of our perceptions of self are distorted and disfigured. It’s so insidious that many of us are not even aware of this fact until someone on the outside, with a clear objective gaze, points it out.
I have had this experience more times than I can count. (You’d think I’d learn by now, right? Well, I’ll be compassionate with myself on that one. Self growth and healing is a lifelong journey!)
I know that part of my struggles with addiction are rooted in my struggles with shame. On good days, when I look in the mirror, I see a beautiful, sexy, sensual, powerful, Goddess. On bad days, I see all the things I should be ashamed of. Specifically, all the negative things my mother, and others, said I was. (And sometimes those messages were not spoken, but delivered through actions or silence.)
But guess what? That is not reality. That’s a distorted mirror built on other peoples projections!
If our image of self is built as a child based on reflections, how could our self-image possibly be clear and true? It’s impossible.
That means that as an adult it’s our job to destroy the (not so) funhouse of mirrors we are living in and create a new perception. It takes vigilance and work but it can be done.
The next time you think something negative about yourself ask yourself if it’s the truth or the opinion of someone from your past? And please, remove yourself from any situations or relationships that perpetuate the distortion!
You are a perfect, innocent being (no matter the mistakes you’ve made.) See yourself as a newborn worthy of all the love in the world. You are still worthy of that love. Encourage yourself to grow into the amazing woman you were born to be. Give yourself all the loving messages you wish you’d received growing up. And be gentle with yourself along the way.