July 10, 2009

Negative Self Beliefs

A friend of mine and I were discussing why she was depressed and how she may address it. The conversation finally boiled down to some key elements in her negative self appraisals. She believes that her depression is due to her laziness. In our conversation I suggested that this was due to her response to her mothers overbearing nature.

This conjecture can apply in many ways and to many situations. As combat veterans we have developed a set of combat values that we attempt to apply to our civilian life and find they do not fit into our past lives. We can try and push this square cog in a round hole and find ourselves loosing our minds becuase we have not identified the inner changes we have made to survive a unimaginable situation. Everyone is shaped by their parents, community and culture for better or worse. Nurture and nature both have significant effects on our developing minds.

I am not suggesting that your are blaming your mother for the way you are. I am suggesting that some of your mothers negative appraisals of you have become your standard operating procedures and effect your life today. What I am suggesting is the opposite of blaming your mother. I am saying that you are the one who makes the choice to believe you are lazy based on your acceptance of your negative self appraisals. You are responsible.

One thing that may determine whether your mom is a factor in your negative self appraisal. When you put yourself down, the negative self talk, are the words you use in your head similar to your mothers when she was putting you down? In your lowest moments of depression when the obsessing over what you have not done resounds, does the voice in your head sound like your mother or repeat in similar phrases?

This is probably something you have not thought about. At first you may think no way, but the only way to tell is to listen for this voice and note what it says. Negative self beliefs run through our minds and reinforce our negative self appraisals. You have come to believe that you are lazy so that's what you tell yourself and this in turn reinforces that you are lazy.

I would suggest a way to change your negative self beliefs. When you catch your negative self appraisals degrading yourself, in that moment, say the opposite of the negative self belief. If you are saying that you are lazy, say NO, I am not lazy I am (pick one or find one that suits you) "hard-working, diligent, active, busy, steady, productive, energetic, conscientious, tireless, zealous, laborious, assiduous, or sedulous" (from freedictionary.com).

Pick a word that you like and use it to countermand your negative stereotyping of yourself. Use this new operating procedure to change all of your negative self appraisals and reinvent yourself. This will take some time, months, eventually you will become to believe in yourself the way you wish to be and you will act accordingly.

Ever heard the term "fake it till you make it"? It sounds, um well...fake. But the only fake in this whole endeavor is the belief that you are not worthy of true happiness and joy. Tricking yourself to believe that you are less than is the real faking.


  1. This is a really important topic. Our (self) beliefs are at the crux of PTSD healing. I'm in Orlando right now getting certified in NLP, which has had much success with trauma victims, particularly military. I'm training with Richard Bandler, the cofounder of NLP. Yesterday he put things to us this way:

    "Humans are only born with 2 natural fears: loud noises and falling. All other fears are learned, and so can be unlearned."

    A simple idea, difficult to implement but very possible for all of us - civilian and vets alike - if we learn the right strategy.

    NLP is all about learning and using techniques to change perceptions. Wondering what you think of it from your perspective....

  2. I am not educated in this technique, so I could not comment on its effectiveness. What I do know is that treating PTSD involves a great amount of changing perceptions; of ourselves and others.

    I did watch his video on "What is NLP?" and he was quite dismissive of all other techniques and therapies. This I find to be a turn-off right away, due to the fact that I have been successfully treated by several therapies. Another thought occurred to me about Mr. Bandler. He was accusing the disciplines in mental health of infighting as to who's approach was the right perspective to the exclusion of all others. Is this not what he is doing?

    With what little I know about NLP it seems to be a psychoeducational approach. In which most therapies and treatments begin with this therapy.

    I find the most promising approach to be The in treating the chronically traumatized individual is The Phase Oriented Treatment paradigm and the theory of Structural Dissociation of the Personality. This treatment approach includes as many treatments and therapies as necessary to heal the wounded mind. I will write an article soon on The Phase Oriented Treatment model.


Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee