I don’t know if you needed to hear that today, but there you go.
You may have made bad choices. You may have to live with the consequences of bad choices you made as a child or young adult. You may have to live with the consequences of other people’s bad choices.
That doesn’t make you a bad person. You are not your choices.
That being said, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to take responsibility for the choices that you have made, be they bad or good. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to live with the consequences of your choices or that you don’t take responsibility for how your choices have affected others.
Owning the choices that you have made is empowering. I’ve had to work hard to own the bad choices I made while I was focused solely on survival.
And boy howdy, I have made a LOT of bad choices. I survived abject poverty and a huge amount of trauma and instability when I was growing up. There was good stuff, but the bad stuff overshadowed so much, and most of my memories of my childhood are full of terror and pain.
And a lot of the bad choices I made were the result of being told that I was a bad person who deserved bad things as a child. I was told that I was worthless. I was told that I was unwanted. I was told that I was a mistake. I was told that I was a burden.
And sometimes, when you’re a person in a bad situation, there are no good choices available.
Sometimes, when you’re lonely, you make bad choices to make that loneliness go away.
You know only that you need, and you’ll do just about anything to fill that void in your soul.
You try religion, but it just tells you that you’re worthless and hellbound unless you believe God murdered his only son to save humans from the consequences of their bad choices in the afterlife. You see “saved” people mock and jeer people who are suffering.
You try other beliefs, but they have the same message in a different wrapper, and the people “saved” by those religions act the same as the people in the religion you grew up in.
You try new age stuff, but “manifesting” doesn’t make anything get better, and now you’re blaming yourself because you can’t shift your brain into whatever magical vibration will solve all of your problems.
You’re still not a bad person. Kicking yourself while you’re down won’t fix anything.
What you need is something else. Self-flagellation just gives you new wounds and no answers.
The first thing that helped me shift was learning that I am not my choices. I am a person, and I have made choices. Some of those choices have been bad, while others have been good. Some of those choices have had lasting consequences for me, while others have had lasting consequences for others.
I am responsible for my choices, but I am not my choices. I am even responsible for the choices I made when I was just surviving. I am even responsible for the choices I made when there were no good choices available.
The next thing that helped me shift was knowing that feelings and judgments are separate things. I can feel happy, sad, angry, content, hungry, tired, good, bad, etc. For example, I cannot FEEL that Alicent Hightower is a bad person because she wants to disinherit her stepdaughter so her children can rule. However, I can THINK that Alicent Hightower is a bad person because she wants to disinherit her stepdaughter so her children can rule. People who aren’t me might think that being unable to separate feelings from thoughts and judgments was strange, but that was the way I was brought up, and that was the tangled mess I grew up with in my head.
The biggest thing that has helped me start to shift was discovering that I have worth. To someone who grew up believing she was worth less than nothing because she was born into poverty as a female, this was really, really difficult. I’ve had a lot of therapy to untangle the pain and abuse that told me I was unworthy of good things.
When you’re blinded by abuse, pain, and twisted thinking, it is very hard to see the good, much less the opportunities in front of you.
It’s hard to do better when you’re convinced you don’t deserve better.
It’s hard to break out of a prison of negative thought when you’re invalidated at every turn. Every thought, every emotion–everything about you is WRONG according to others.
Some people will tell you to just forget the haters, completely ignorant to the reality that for a lot of us, that negativity was LITERALLY beaten into us.
It’s not easy to break out of negative thinking, and that’s okay. Sometimes you need help, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s hard to stop making bad choices without help. Sometimes the consequences of your choices have you living in your own personal hell. It sucks.
The aha moment is learning that you have worth, just as you are.
The healing begins when you believe that you have worth.
The growth begins when you start making good choices.
Is it easy? No.
Is it worth it? Absolutely.
Does it guarantee success?
Well, that depends on you.
Know your worth and keep growing.
In the end, you will know.