Early in my career I observed that when people reacted unproductively it was because they were stressed, not because they were self-defeating or masochistic. I intuited that what was happening resulted from the fact that the brain can’t distinguish stress from danger. In order for our species to survive we developed a hair-trigger response to fear because for most of our time on the planet man did live in mortal danger. Your stress signals are hijacked and the signal goes to its primitive, fight or flight center, leaving you with the brainpower you had as a helpless vulnerable child. I called this "Emotional Dyslexia" because it is a physical problem in the brain like the learning disability dyslexia.
There is no gene for self-esteem-your sense of worthiness is largely based on how you were treated when you were very young. If you had been given primarily loving, supportive messages you would have internalized those messages and that would be your self-talk now. If your self talk is negative then you may have been overtly criticized, or ignored or your opinions were diminished or you had a lot of trauma in your life. Your lack of self-esteem, your self- critical behavior is due to your conditioning and doesn’t reflect who you are at your core and how you want to be.
Our species has survived because we are able to feel compassion and empathy allowing us to support and care for one another. This is our true nature and I believe are a number of things that interfere with our living in harmony with this nature. The first interference is that we have a brain that is wired to have a hair-trigger response to fear. Because our brains haven’t evolved to tell the difference between stress and danger our stress signals are hijacked and sent to the fight/flight/freeze part of the brain were all our childhood memories and traumas are stored. We are then triggered into irrational fear responses which diminish our capacity for compassionate responses.
It is our true nature to be empathic and compassionate… We even have parts of our brain called empathy neurons that allow us to connect deeply to each other’s experience …These neurons evolved because as a species our survival is enhanced if we can take care of each other…Because our brain has not been able to distinguish stress from danger, frequently when we are stressed we are triggered into fear responses that interfere with our innate capacity to be caring and loving.
Did you know that your brain is wired to have a hair-trigger response to fear because that is the only way our species could survive? You probably didn’t learn that the brain can’t always distinguish between stress and danger. As a result, very often your stress signals are hijacked and sent to the fear centers in your brain. When this happens, you don’t have access to your higher cognitive abilities. You basically have the brainpower of a young infant or child. You have probably blamed yourself or been blamed for childlike or ineffective responses and I’m here to tell weren’t deliberately trying to self sabotage or cause yourself pain in any way. You’re not responsible for the way your brain evolved.
My life and work have been devoted to helping myself and others transform any thoughts, behaviors and emotions that are causing pain or discomfort. Early in my career I was impressed with how motivated and well intentioned my clients were. And yet, I had seen so many people spend years in therapy without fulfilling their true desire to live a more fulfilled and liberated life. I never doubted that people’s intentions were pure and yet I could understand their frustration at not being able to attain or maintain desired changes. My approach to creating change is based on the belief that all living organisms have one innate desire and that is for growth. I have dedicated myself to both identifying and removing any interferences to this innate drive for mastery.
The second interference to full empowerment is what I call “faulty learning.” Stop and think for a moment. If this survival reflex is active in every person you meet? Your parents had it, so did your teachers and your politicians. Too often the adults in our lives and our culture as a whole gave us information that was distorted by a brain that was wired to react with fear. They were not able to give us the information and tools we needed because they were limited by their own fear-based reactions, causing much pain and suffering. The well-intentioned adults in our life did not mean for us to feel inadequate or ashamed. We had no way of knowing that many of our beliefs and our emotional reactions were the result of conditioning by important people in our lives who were themselves being triggered into fear responses.
Unfortunately, you grew up in a judgmental and critical culture is by definition creates anxiety. How could you not be anxious if every time you make a mistake or you overreact you anticipate being criticized or diminished. As a result you are probably self-critical and critical of others even if you don’t voice your criticism out loud you have been conditioned to see other people’s imperfections in a diminishing way.
In our culture we are conditioned to believe that if we didn’t get the unconditional love we deserved as children we can have a “do over” and get it in a romantic relationship. No one was trying to trick you. Every behavior has a positive intent in a matter what the outcome is. The positive intent in this hypnotic message was to give you the hope that you could feel lovable and worthy even if your parents didn’t create these feelings and you. Your parents didn’t have the ability to give you unconditional love because they didn’t have it either as is the case with the vast majority of the people you know.