The underlying message our negative reel consistently relays back to us is:
you are not ___________ enough (don’t worry, your negative reel will fill in the blank for you).
This repetitive dialog perpetuates fears that we will fail, be rejected, humiliated and abandoned which keeps us from trusting our abilities and moving forward (or in any direction for that matter). We begin to believe that voice without question, without hesitation, so that it becomes so familiar that we don’t even recognize we’ve been shit talking ourselves all these years.
Once we embrace the belief that there is something wrong with us, we begin to act on that belief. We hold ourselves back, convince ourselves that change isn’t worth the effort, and stay on autopilot because planning for a life of misery is less terrifying than taking a leap of faith into the unknown.
Our brains don’t like change because the endless possible outcomes and potential risks are so unpredictable that we cannot prepare enough to counteract all the different ways we may fail. So we do nothing because if we don’t try, then we can’t fail. And this makes us feel like we are in control.
But we know that we’re never fully in control of any outcome and there are a million different ways that any situation can play out. When we acknowledge that fact, it actually gives us permission to shift our perspective and start to quiet down our negative reel.
In reality we don’t know what life has in store for us, no matter how “prepared” we may think we may be, so there’s no control to hold on to. The last few years of the pandemic has highlighted this fact for us. We are not in control. We never have been and we never will be.
So if there’s no control, then where can we find our security?
The answer is: in ourselves.
We must be the ones to believe in our own abilities. We must be the ones to define our own worthiness or else we allow others to define this for us – still leaving us out of control. The only true control we have is over ourselves and that starts with our thoughts, which then determines how we feel about ourselves, which then sets the foundation for our actions.
Our negative reel will tell us that we are not enough because of our flaws and lack of ability. But if we can accept that as humans we have flaws and shortcomings AND can still be enough, then we can start to quiet down our negative reels.
When we start to trust that we have the ability to adapt, change, and meet the challenges of this uncontrollable life, then we can release the fear of failure. We can even shift our definition of failure completely. The incredible effort it takes to trust that we possess what it takes to do the hard work means that we aren’t failing even if the outcome isn’t what we hoped for.
The first step is to know that WE ARE ENOUGH – flaws, mistakes, poor decisions, addictions and all. We are unique, complicated works-in-progress. When we shift our perspective from thinking that there’s something wrong with us to knowing that we have the strength to work on and overcome our weaknesses, then we can give ourselves the time, patience, and grace to take our first steps on our healing journey.
“There’s nothing wrong with you. You have just found your work” – Rabbi Mordecai Finley, the rich roll podcast
So if you need help identifying and quieting down your negative reel, check out our tools page. These are the tools we have used, and keep coming back to, when our negative reels decide to pop back in. And as you take your first steps in this difficult journey, remind yourself:
“There is nothing wrong with me. I have just found my work. I am enough.”
Ming-Wai + Ming-Cee