“How Can I Feel Good About Myself?!

12 Sep 2005

“How Am I Meant To Feel  Good About Myself….
When I Feel Terrible?”

That was the question I undertook to answer in the last issue of “The Woman You Want To Be” (my bi-monthly ezine for abused women, available through
www.joyfulcoaching.com and I’ll admit that I feel some anxiety about doing so. You see, I believe that the answer I’ll give is as true and honest (and personal) as I can make
it. But I remember all too well the objections that I would have raised a few years back. I was deeply objectionable at the time. 

Back then, my situation left me feeling so profoundly negative that I would have dismissed out of hand a message like the one I intend to share today. It is the memory
of that almost impenetrable negativity that makes me feel nervous. But as bullets go, I’ve gnawed on tougher ones, so here goes.

My first encounter with affirmations came through Adam Jackson’s brief, charming books: “10 Secrets of Abundant Love” and “10 Secrets of Abundant Wealth”. I read them with
some pleasure, but couldn’t quite relate them to me – because my situation was different.

I once asked the then husband (TTH) about subscribing to “Which” – a UK magazine that provides expert advice about best buy products. TTH replied instantly, with complete conviction that ‘it wasn’t for people like us’.

After TTH left, I subscribed and learned 3 valuable things:

  • That he was a fool – it’s for anyone who doesn’t have the time or inclination to do the research but wants information. (It saved me a lot of money.)
  • That he habitually condemned as stupid any view that did not coincide with his own; and I came to accept that, in the great scheme of things, he was always right and I was always wrong.
  • And most important, that he and I were ‘different’. General rules and generalizations, especially, did not apply to us.

In fact this was an affirmation, sometimes repeated sometimes merely implied, that moulded his – and my – perception of the world. It was a negative affirmation, and a very powerful one. Because
‘things were different for me’, the strategies and solutions that proved effective for other people would never work for me. Or so I believed.

(While every abusive relationship has its own individual aspects, all abusers croak from the same hymn sheet and what went on between us was quite similar to what goes on in all abusive couples. Only I didn’t know it at the time. There were loads of ‘people just like us’ around; but I was too far into denial ever to realise it or recognise them.)

So there I was thinking to myself: “Affirmations will never work for me”, unaware that I was using them all the time, to great effect. The only thing was, they were negative affirmations and the effect was unremittingly negative.

Two things here: first Nature and the human brain abhor a vacuum. My assumption was that I was trying to plant tender, exotic plants in stony, barren ground. In fact the ground was quite fertile. What had been planted in it were hardy little seedlings of despond, so genetically modified as to be sterile.

Second, what was there had been planted, by someone. The negative affirmations have felt like reality to me –because they were what I knew. But they had been germinated and planted by
a seedsman that I mistakenly believed was more knowledgeable and capable than me. 

After all, I had become so convinced of my own inferiority that I had internalised my partner’s bad opinion of me. (And, although I have written this in a very personal way, I believe that the mechanisms described hold true for most abused women.)

How then can you feel good about yourself, when you feel terrible? By becoming your own seedswoman. By consciously employing the same process to create the result that you desire, that someone else used to control and diminish you. 

That process is language. You know it works, because of the havoc it has wreaked on you. 

But you can also harness the power of language and use it to create the outcome you desire for yourself.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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