Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m not worthy” or “I’m not good enough”? How about, not smart enough, strong enough, or just simply “don’t have what it takes”? As survivors of abuse, these feelings are all too common, unfortunately. The grooming, the abuse acts themselves, and the overall invalidation we may have received while growing up, are prime targets for anxiety.
Welcome to the next post in our Tricks of Anxiety series, as we break down how anxiety wants to capitalize and exploit these feelings.
I feel it’s important to mention that those feelings aren’t limited to solely abuse survivors alone; anxiety is more than happy to exploit you as a human being, survivor or not. For the purposes of this post and this blog, I generally focus my posts from the survivor point of view. This is never an attempt to minimize those who are not abuse survivors. After all, we are all in the battle of our lives in this war on anxiety.
Let’s look at some ways that anxiety tries to make us believe that we aren’t good enough, worthy enough and that we don’t deserve to feel better, and then shed some hope and encouragement on how we can overcome them.
One of those ways is to make us think that if we try to celebrate something good, we are being selfish. Anxiety might try and invalidate you by saying something like this: “Nope don’t do that. If you do then you are showing off, and trying to make yourself look better than someone else. What are you trying to do here, and who do you think you are making someone else feel bad when you know exactly how that feels? Besides, it’s not THAT big of a deal anyways.”
After it puts that doubt in your mind, you begin to downplay every victory and every good thing about yourself. Before we know it we start questioning if we are worthy of any good thing at all, let alone celebrating something. Thus reinforcing, yet again, all of the negative thinking and lack of self-confidence and self-respect that may have been a part of your life for so long. Some of the very things you are trying to work on in our survivor journey.
How about feeling unworthy? That goes right along with the feeling of not being good enough, smart enough, and not having what it takes to accomplish a goal. As abuse survivors, feeling unworthy is pretty darn common if we’re being real here. The grooming, the physical acts of abuse, invalidation by our parents or caregivers, bullies at school; there were so many things working against us at such a young age. Over and over, people and circumstances drove home the feeling that we are worthless, and that there’s no point in trying to think otherwise.
As a survivor I know first hand, and if you are then you likely know as well, those feelings stick with us for a long time, well into adulthood. There is no “just getting over it”.
On top of that, we have society telling us every single day that we need to look a certain way, act a certain way, and wear a certain dress or pant size. We have to have the latest electronic gadget, nicest car, and biggest house. After all, everywhere we look the people who have those things and seem to be happy. They must have something we don’t have, they must be better than we are, work harder than we do, and want it more than we do. They are worthy and we are not.
Talk about being bombarded with pressure! Healing from abuse is already a tough task as it is, and the last thing we need is anxiety making us feel worse because we can’t possibly live up to the unrealistic expectations that we are confronted with every day.
What about feeling unworthy of healing from abuse? That’s a big one right there, friends! We blame ourselves and shame ourselves because we were abused. Those feelings can certainly drive home the idea that, ” you allowed this to happen, you didn’t stop it, you were weak, so therefore you aren’t worthy of feeling better. You made your bed now you have to go lay in it”.
I’ve felt those very feelings, I’ve been there. Maybe you have too? Anxiety will take that and run with it, every chance it gets. Remember, there’s never a time when anxiety says, “well I’ve got this person, they’ve had enough”. Nope, it will just keep going and going, tirelessly working as hard as it can to constantly exploit every negative thought we’ve ever had or ever will have.
What about when we do start to make some headway in our healing journey? You begin to realize that all of this hard work is starting to pay off.
- You start to have some good days, and not as many rough days.
- You begin to see how important and validating self-love is.
- You take time for yourself by doing self-care.
- You put yourself first by enforcing healthy boundaries.
So many things that we may never have thought possible, are now starting to become reality, little by little. Anxiety will try to work its way back in and make you think that it won’t last. “Who do you think you are in feeling better?” “You’ll find a way to screw this up!”. Any number of countless invalidating thoughts will be brought back into our minds in an attempt to regain its power.
Be sure and check out the Periscope video I did on this topic, and join me every Sunday at 1030am EST.
So what hope is there then? What hope do we have that we don’t have to feel like we aren’t good enough or worthy enough? What hope do we have that we don’t have to feel like we are being cut down every time we start to gain some headway in our journey?
Well, there is hope, tons of hope! Because it’s all a lie! Everything anxiety tries to tell you, tries to exploit, is an outright lie. That’s how it thrives, by trying to make you believe the lies that have kept you stuck for so long.
Anxiety doesn’t want you to embrace hope. It doesn’t want you to realize that you are worth reaching for your dreams or even having dreams in the first place. It doesn’t want you to gain momentum, self-confidence, and a feeling of self-worth. It simply doesn’t want you to be happy and feel contentment and peace.
Why? because that means that anxiety loses its power over you and you gain all of that power back! When anxiety loses power, you gain power!
Take a realistic, honest, look at your life and say, “Why not me”?! “Why should I have to live a life filled with Anxiety?!”
Break down the power that anxiety tries to use against you by looking at yourself NOT as someone who is broken and unworthy, but rather as a Survivor who has been through the depths and is still here. A Survivor that refuses to give up. A Survivor who knows that YOU are worthy of feeling empowered and YOU are worth embracing hope for a life that is not defined by the past.