Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Last week someone asked me if I’d ever been married. When I responded that I hadn’t he asked, “What’s wrong with you?” A few replies went through my mind, most not appropriate to share. Instead of whipping out a sharp retort, I laughed. While I found it an insensitive question, snapping at him would have confirmed what he thought—that something was wrong with me—and may have revealed that I believed it. I decided not to take his interpretation of my life as my own. He chose to view my being single as an indication of a deficiency or error, I did not.

We have all used the words and actions of others as an excuse to confirm what we believe about ourselves. It was easy for me not to latch onto the negativity associated with my relationship status because I genuinely do not believe anything is wrong with me being single. I have not met anyone I want to spend the rest of my life with. Not a fault, just a fact. However, it’s not so simple with other areas of my life.

Living through the lens of an adult survivor of child abuse, there are days when I interpret how someone else treats me as confirmation of what I deserve. As a child, instead of considering that I was abused because others had a problem, I internalized the negative treatment. Over the years, I've used it to confirm an extremely destructive thought—I deserve it. When someone said or did something harmful or hurtful, I would tap right back into that “logic” and use it as proof that I deserve to be mistreated.

Your reactions to the words and behaviors of others are a reflection of what you think of yourself. When someone does or says something that you deem to be negative, intentionally consider what you will do with that information before you digest it. Without making a conscious decision to reject it, you will more than likely accept it as truth. Do not take ownership of someone else’s behavior. While you are responsible for who you allow into your life and what significance they hold, you cannot control their actions. S/he didn’t cheat on you because you deserve infidelity. You weren’t neglected because you deserve neglect. You weren’t talked down to because you're worthless. Do not use other people’s choices to confirm and strengthen negative self-talk. When you know the truth—that you deserve respect, care, attention, and love—you can interpret your place in the world honestly and with clarity.

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