Who Says?


I’ve often spoken of how much I think the things that happened to us and the things that were said to use during the developmental stages when we are most malleable impact us. Just as our physical bodies are made up of what we were feed. So, too, I believe are our psyches made up of what we were “fed.”


Before I go any further, let me say that this is not about placing blame– on our parents, our churches, our society or anyone else. I’m more interested in living a happy and fulfilled life now and sometimes that is about identifying and rethinking some of the programing that we received.


For example, at fifty years old, I still, if I do something embarrassing in public, will assign it to some belief about myself for which I was made to feel less-than as a child. This phenomenon seems automatic. In my case it most often was because I was a sensitive, artistic, skinny little gay boy. I wasn’t, in fact, the prototype for the kind of child who got heaps of reinforcement for the things I found interesting and beautiful, and because of this I received some pretty harsh criticism. For you, it likely might be something else. Some people were overweight as a child or may have had trouble with a speech pattern.


My theory is that our biochemistry gets set up to feel like being under chronic (if sometimes subtle) criticism is the norm. Even in the absence of our oppressors we will step in for them as understudies and be as vicious and cruel as they were at times just so we can feel “normal” even if that normal is not happy.


This is a habit. And habits can be broken.


Now that I’m an adult with a reasonable education, one who’s seen a fair slice of this big world of ours and had the opportunity to experience other cultures and hear other worldviews, I know that a lot of that shortsighted hogwash that was passed off as truth to me as a child is just that– hogwash. That still doesn’t keep me from some knee-jerk cognitive and/or emotional response to a human mistake I might make. If I drop and break a glass, I’m sad to admit that I might likely say, “You stupid faggot.” But here’s the good part: the next thing I’ll say to myself is, “That’s not mine.” What I mean by that is the homophobia is not mine. It’s not true. It didn’t come from my God or my own best thinking and neither does any of the other hypercritical echoes that find their way from the 1970s to my otherwise beautiful present.


As with all my personal unburdening, I hope you can find this useful if you experience any similar phenomenon that wants to take you back to a time when ignorance from your earlier surroundings tried to obstruct the beauty of the being that you truly are.


The next time you say something mean to yourself, try my trick. When you say something about or to yourself that could have come from an abusive relative or 5th grade bully, let the next thing that comes out of your mouth be, “That’s not mine.” Because you know what? It’s really not.


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