Lies I have believed about myself

Post by Leanne Banks for the Kind Kindred series.

image courtesy of Victoria Henderson on Flickr

We come to the beliefs of who we are mostly because of what others tell us. At least that’s been my experience. I was one of those people who didn’t really seem to have an identity of my own. I became like whoever I was spending time with. I mimicked their mannerisms, patterns of speech, taste in music and fashion. I never had a sense of who Leanne was. And so, most of what I learned about myself, I learned because of other people. And these beliefs have not been easy to shake. It’s only very recently that I have found all of the following to be untrue:

1. I have no self-discipline

This is an untruth I learned from teen magazines featuring articles about healthy eating, exercise and skin care routine. I learned this from movies and TV shows too. To be healthy and thin with flawless skin required dedication and will power. It asks us to say no to that chocolate and lazing on the couch, opting instead for the lettuce leaves and a jog. I was never able to say no to the chocolate, and salad was just blah and tasteless.

I have carried this belief in my poor self-discipline well into adulthood. Despite all evidence to the contrary I still catch myself declaring my state of ill discipline on occasion. The truth is I am disciplined. I’m a single parent with a full time job – I’m disciplined. I see things through. I don’t give up at the first sign of discomfort. When I realized that I needed to lose +30kg I was disciplined in following the eating plan. I have been disciplined with exercise too. I trained to swim the Midmar Mile, I trained to run 5km and then 10km, and now I’m training to run a half marathon in October. I completed #100happydays last year and right now I’m close to completing the #the100dayproject. Creating something every day for 100 days demonstrates discipline. I’ve also learned that discipline does not equal perfect.

2. I was never good with girls as friends

This is a belief I picked up relatively late in life. Enough women around me were saying it (and still say it) and being the chameleon I was, I took their statements about themselves and made them statements about myself too. The belief goes along the lines of “I’m much more comfortable around guys,” “I don’t like hanging out with other girls, they’re too bitchy and there’s too much drama,” “I’m one of the guys.” The truth about my friendships is that I’m comfortable with men and women. Throughout high school, university and adulthood I have had close girl friends. Who I didn’t like was girls I didn’t know, girls who had what I wanted, girls who seemed to live on Easy Street, girls who dated the boys I liked. I felt threatened by these girls, like they were somehow showing me up. I didn’t trust them. But I always have girl friends who I love dearly. I’m a girls’ girl. 🙂

3. I am a terrible mother

I know that just about every mother out there can relate to this one. I struggled tremendously with post-natal depression after my daughter was born. It was one of the most painful times of my life. My experience of motherhood in that first year was as far removed from what I’d learned in movies and magazines as you could get. I’d heard that motherhood was this heavenly, fulfilling experience filled with bonding and a deep sense of place and purpose in the world. I didn’t have that. My first year of motherhood was about keeping both myself and my daughter alive. I wanted to die. It was so, so, so, so, so hard being a single parent. Even though I had the most incredible, lifesaving support from my Mom, my Dad and my Stepmother, I was drowning. My daughter was this wonderful bundle of love. She was not a difficult infant, not sickly, didn’t have colic. And I couldn’t appreciate it. And so the belief of terrible mother was born.

I struggled more or less until my daughter was about 3 years old. At that time I got into a relationship with a guy who was a wonderful Dad to her. Our parenting styles complemented each other. We were great parents together. The turning point in this belief came from him. He was always suggesting that I give myself a break and stop beating myself up for times I got it wrong. He read me a quote that says “There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.” (Jill Churchill) I still have that quote stuck up in my kitchen. Yes, I’m not a perfect mother but I am a damn good one. More importantly, I’m the best one for my daughter.

4. I have no purpose/passion/talent

About 4 years ago it seemed that every article I read suggested we find our purpose, discover our passion and pursue that. I struggled with this. People would ask, “What are you passionate about?” And I couldn’t answer. I’d go blank. I’d be thinking, “Ummm, my bed, reading, being with my daughter, being at the beach.” Hardly lofty passions, right? I just couldn’t think of one thing to pursue. In hindsight, I guess I was passionate about all those slowed down activities because life had been tumultuous in the year or so before this. My Mom had been diagnosed with cancer (she’s all clear now) and the aforementioned relationship had come to its dismal end. My purpose was (and still is) to be the best Mom for my daughter.

Then I started writing again and a light went on inside of me. At first I wrote poetry; most of it bad, some of it I like. I even had a poem published. Seems I do have a bit of talent after all. Earlier this year I discovered #the100dayproject and I started writing a haiku a day for 100 days. Today is day 93. The daily discipline of writing and creating and sharing my art lit up a whole bushfire inside. I have so much to say. I have some writing talent. I don’t have to sing a rock song, I can write a rock piece. I want to write and write and write. Doing this honors me.

5. I am not worthy of a wonderful, loving man

Again, I know many people who hold this belief too – men and women. It looks like settling for less. Amazing woman with low self-esteem settles for a man who doesn’t share her desires to start a family, because having any man is better than having no man. Wonderful man who’s insecure settles for a woman who cheats on him, because at least she comes home to him. I’ve been these people too; settling for less because I don’t believe I’m worth more. I came to this belief because I was told once at some point that I was only good for one thing. That’s all it took, just one man saying it that one time. In addition, movies and magazines tell me too. I’m not thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, successful enough to earn the love and commitment of a wonderful man.

I don’t believe this anymore. Since the aforementioned relationship ended, I have had many painful months and years proving to myself that I’m unworthy. In the end, all that pain brought me closer to God and His loving grace. I am forgiven and so I can forgive myself. My actions today are those of a woman who knows she is worthy of a wonderful, loving man. Whether or not he’s out there is not something I can control. But in the meantime I’m living the best, most fun life.

What untrue beliefs are you holding on to? Looking at the truths of our lives makes it easier to dispel the myths of our lives. Shine the light of honesty into your dark corners, that’s where your treasure is hidden.

I am 40 years old, mother to an amazing 12 year old, vegan, Christian and actively involved in my church, recovering addict (14 years) and a member of a 12 step fellowship. I live in Durban, South Africa. 
I blog at Leanne With Purpose.

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