I grew up in a situation where I believed that I was not as good as the other kids. My dad had a heart attack when I was 6 and didn’t work while he recovered. My mom was a stay at home mom. My clothes for school were crocheted or from a second hand store because there was barely enough money for food, let alone clothes. I got teased about my clothes incessantly. That, among other things, created a pattern for me that I was an underdog.
Being an underdog most of my life drove me to prove that I could succeed despite the limitations of my situation. However, the pattern it created was that I had to prove myself all the time and get all of my validation of worthiness from outside of myself.
Constantly trying to prove that I was worthy put enormous pressure on me. In fact, the pressure I put on myself during the week caused me to binge on food and alcohol on Fridays and Saturdays just to relieve the pressure that I put on myself with my unrealistic expectations.
If this sounds like a familiar story for you, I want to share with you the method I used to get it mostly under control (I’m still working on it and probably will be for a while). Tara Brach teaches a self-compassion technique called RAIN which stands for recognize, allow, investigate, and nurture.
I recognize that I’m doing this when I start to feel urgent and under pressure and I purposely pause. I allow the feeling to be present and I describe it in physical terms. I get curious and investigate what I was thinking and really question whether the thought I’m having is helping me (it almost always entails the word “prove” or “have to”). Finally, I talk to myself in a nurturing way like I would to a small child and tell her it’s ok and that we don’t have to think like this anymore because we know that we are worthy regardless of achievements. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, even myself.
Doing this technique over and over again has retrained my brain to believe that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, even myself. I can’t even put into words how much pressure this has lifted from my shoulders. I now chase goals because I want to, not because I have to.
Does this sound like you? If it does, and you would like some help reprogramming your underdog mindset, sign up for a complimentary session. Together we can put together a plan to alleviate the pressure.