Gertrude. That was her name. She was very plain looking, not out of the ordinary either way. Yet, there was something about her which I really couldn’t figure out. She was an average person, not highly intelligent and neither dense. But she had some sort of power over me which I couldn’t explain. Her words rang true, her words pierced my heart, every time. I had the choice not to believe her but honestly, I didn’t know how to. The evidence spoke for itself.
“You are not good enough.” her words rang in my ears. I was in grade one, my report card came home, I was ranked 22nd in a class of 30. My brother, who was in grade three, was ranked 1st, yet again.
“See, I told you - you are not good enough.” Gertrude murmured. Throughout my life, Gertrude showed up at the most inopportune times, to remind me, exactly how “not good enough” I was. She told me I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, she told me that I would always be second best no matter how hard I tried, always giving me proof of it, for every situation, without fail.
Who was this Gertrude and where the hell did she come from? Why did she control my life and why did she have so much power over me?
Gertrude was my inner critic, she came into existence the day I started doubting myself and when this doubt was fueled, unknowingly and unintentionally by my primary caregivers.
Throughout my life, I fought Gertrude, I worked very hard to shut her up by showing her how good enough, worthy enough, beautiful enough I was but she always reared her ugly head to show me proof of the opposite. Why?!
I started daily affirmations - meditation, journaling. I was going to evict Gertrude out of my mind forever. These affirmations didn’t make me emotional, I figured it was because I already believed that I was good/worthy/beautiful enough. But did I, though? Situations kept arising fueling Gertrude’s assault on me - friends ditching me, closing my business down, the list went on and on. Gertrude had won, or had she?
One look at my life’s experiences showed me that, time and again, situations turned up in my life warranting me to prove that I was “good enough”. Whether it was a disgruntled friend accusing me of not being there for them or whether it was a family member complaining that I didn’t care enough. The end result was the same. I would step up my efforts and go out of my way for them. Just to get rid of the feeling of not being good enough, a feeling that came up for me often.
I never thought about this, never tried to understand it, I accepted it as a part of my life. But that’s when my “Aha” moment came. It is one thing saying an affirmation and a totally different thing believing what you affirm. How do you test your belief? It is in your actions.
So, I decided to analyse my actions - every time I faced a situation where I felt I wasn’t good enough, I went out of my way to try to disprove this. My actions didn’t yell “I am good enough.” So, my actions didn’t support what I thought I believed about myself.
How has this changed me? I question my actions - am I taking a certain action because it brings me joy or am I taking this action because I want to disprove a certain belief about me? If it is the latter, I walk away from the action - no matter how hard this is. This is how I know that I have changed my belief about my self-worth and self-value.
How has this affected my experiences? Well, I no longer face any situation where I feel unworthy. You see, what you feel in your heart is what will reflect in your experiences. If you want your experiences to change then start by changing what you feel about yourself.
As for Gertrude, well, she occasionally knocks on the door - I choose not to answer it.