1. Where I started...
All my life, I have felt criticised. Not good enough. I had to try harder, to better, be perfect. A song that resonated with me for a long time was Perfect by Alanis Morissette. I was deprived of love and validation, and thought that by being perfect I would finally be worthy to receive it. But I was never perfect. There was something missing and something I always fell short of. In turn, this meant I was denied of the validation and love I craved.
This impacted my adulthood in 2 ways:
1. I wanted to do well. I became ambitious and determined to be perfect and prove my "Inner Parent/Inner Critic" that I can do well and make myself proud.
2. I wanted to help others on their own journey of growth and healing. I wanted to help others and be empathic because if you plant good, then good will come back to you.
I was hypersensitive - often told I need to "stop taking things so personally". I was dependent on other people's validation of me and often trying to do well just in the hope that people will appreciate me.
I somehow seemed to find and in fact attract people in my life that triggered me in ways that were outside of my control (eg the boss or the colleague at work) who makes me feel criticised or not good enough.
And while I was so busy seeking love, appreciation and validation externally, it never seemed to be enough to make me feel worthy and confident and truly fulfilled. And even when I was praised and validated, the positive effects of what could disappear in a moment when a hurtful word or criticism was said to me.
Our brain is programmed to try harder and put more effort into pleasing others, and we put a disproportionate amount of effort towards those "lost causes" - people whose appreciation we will never be able to obtain.
We look at everyone else's snappy, stressy attitude and whatever reasons they have to be critical towards us, as if it's our fault. We take the burden of their own pain upon our shoulders, as if it's ours to carry and suffer through. And when we also have our own baggage, that's a lot of weight to carry.
I noticed myself at work in particular, especially with people I perceived to be in authority (usually superior in level) that when criticised or bullied, I became paralysed. Words escaped me and all my energy was used towards standing own my own feet and trying not to fall. And trying to prevent myself from crying. Because THAT'S a weakness! Yet, somehow, almost without fail, the tears wouldn't hesitate to burst out, particularly in front of those people I wanted to look strong.
The shift for me happened when someone in an online game told me I was stupid. And two days later I had a breakdown in the bread isle of a supermarket. In that moment I knew I couldn't go on like that and I had to do something about it.
That was over 15 years ago - when I started to use my determination and ambition not to please others, but to understand what the f*ck was wrong in my brain and why I am such a weak person - apparently incapable of leading a normal, healthy life.
I became determined to defeat that stupid and f***ing annoying, loud voice, telling me I am not good enough and I have to do more, be better, be nicer and smarter and performing and liked and and and and and.
I'd had enough.
I studied Psychology in the hope that I will figure out what the hell was wrong with me and learn how to fix myself. My degree has helped me a lot to help others and understand my brain, but I still wasn't closer to fixing myself.
I started coaching people and I helped hundreds of them with their lives and problems, that still didn't help me fix my own stupid brain.
Imagine the unrelenting and constant bashing I was giving myself every single day of my existence.
And you want to know something funny? I wasn't the only person doing this to myself.
It made me angry - no, furious! - to see how many other people struggle with their own inner demons and go through similar, self defeating and destructive inner dialogue.
I was furious at the injustice I was doing to myself, and others were doing to themselves.
It took me 15 years to get to where I am today. I still hear that voice sometimes. I still cry sometimes. I still get triggered. I don't want to claim to you that I am perfect and have got all my sh*t together. No. I am still human and imperfect, and want to work with other people who are also imperfect.
Crucially however, what I have discovered is that I am whole. I am not broken. And I have all the resources within myself to figure out the way out of any situation.
And while it may not be the end of my journey, this is what I've achieved in 15 years - and the commitment I can make to you...