I have been living on my own in Colorado for a little over two weeks now. I talk to family and friends regularly back in Tennessee. As I mention the places I have been going and the things I have done, a couple of my family members have asked about me making friends and if I am going to ask some work friends or whoever to join me in these adventures. I guess the word “triggered” would apply here.
All of a sudden when they mentioned making friends, my mind did a strange twist where it went back to my childhood where I really did have a hard time making friends and fitting in. I was bombarded by a series of negative thoughts “You’re going to be alone here”, “It’s hard for you to make friends”, “Poor guy can’t even make friends”, “Why are you doing everything by yourself?”, and “What a loser”. These thoughts flooded my head unwarranted and you can imagine the emotions that followed them, frustration, shame, anger, self-pity.
Out of nowhere my mind adopted the programming I had as a child and a teenager and instilled it into my reality. I felt isolated, I felt neglected, I felt socially incompetent. None of these things are true by the way but that didn’t stop me from feeling it. I let the emotions pass and then I asked myself “Are any of these thoughts true?”. I carefully analyzed each one and it turns out NO, none of these ridicules and complaints have any merit. I am not that awkward child anymore, I have grown up, made plenty of friends in various situations, and even though I am a bit introverted, I do enjoy social events in moderation. There is nothing wrong with me.
It’s like I felt guilty because I perceived myself the way I perceived myself growing up, existing in a world of self-pity instead of empowerment. In reality, the last several job positions I have had, I have made friends in. I don’t seem to have a problem making friends as an adult. It is true that I do like to keep to myself so my mindset isn’t always in Let’s Make Friends Mode, but I do alright socially. I can’t believe I allowed myself to have those thoughts. It just struck me as odd, like a blast from the past.
And I felt pity, actual pity for myself. I forgot how much I sought that emotion out as a child. I relished in it. I guess it made me feel justified in my thoughts and behaviors, I don’t know, but I have no room for self-pity in my life again. I am an empowered individual and I do not feel sorry for myself now. Self-pity hold no redeeming quality and only hinders progress and constructive change. It’s been long overdue that I pick myself up and take responsibility for my own life and satisfaction.
It reminded me that many of us are still running off of old mental programs from the past and constructing our current image of ourselves through them. In my mind, I was still this awkward social outcast loser (which I arguably never was) and I allowed myself to feel guilty for a moment. Luckily, I have mental tools now that can subvert these thoughts and attitude and that help bring myself back into reality, back into an inspired present and an inspired future.
I thought if I hadn’t known better and had just let those thoughts consume me, I would have embodied that old, antiquated, simplified way of thinking about myself. It would have compounded over time as the emotions intensified and that new disempowered, dreadful identity would have solidified itself within my mind. I would have trapped myself in those thought patterns and in that perceived identity. So many of us do this without realizing it! We are living off of past emotions, past programming. I am thankful that I am capable of bringing myself back to the present moment and combat these irrational thoughts with a bit of introspection, rationality, and mindfulness.
If you are having similar negative thoughts about yourself, ask yourself if it is true? Is it absolutely true? Most times you will find that these negative thoughts are not based in reality. Many times, these thoughts are part of a residual program of the brain that you gained in the past, possibly from a past trauma, cultural persuasion, or experiences growing up. Certain experiences can facilitate negative thought patterns and beliefs about oneself and they can follow you all of your life if you let them. They can help reinforce certain familiar emotions and certain false identities that only serve to restrict your options going forward.
Bring yourself back to reality, ask if these thoughts are even remotely true, and try to find the compassion and nuance in who you are. You are beautiful and you do not have to be stuck in these cyclical ways of thinking. I feel much better today after having subverted these patterns in my mind through mindfulness and exposing the falsehood of these thoughts. Remember you don’t have to emotionally invest in every crazy thought that flows through your head. You are doing just fine and you have all the potential in the world if you open the channels in your mind to a better future, a better you. I hope this insight can help you today. Happy growing 😊