‘Make better Choices’ and other Directionless DirectivesBy
This week I keep running across sayings, posters and quotes that I find frustrating because they are all sayings and directives that I believed in and strived towards for so many years. The problem was that in reality I was spinning my wheels and not really making any progress with moving forward and away from my struggles, depressions, and oppression. Today I see some of these sayings as “directionless directives”. They sound great, ideal in fact, but they didn’t actually HELP me.
They motivated me and inspired hope in me for about twenty minutes or even a few days before the familiar feeling of personal failure set in once again. I thought I was the only one who could not achieve the decisions these little sayings were meant to inspire.
For instance the directive “Stand up for yourself even if you stand alone”; No one ever empowered me to know how to do stand up for myself. No one actually even stood up for me. I was a victim in my own home for most of my life and as I grew into my twenties and thirties I tried to change the course of my life by trying to follow some of these directions but standing up for myself was not something I knew how to do or even felt that I had “the right” to choose to do. I had no idea where to even START standing up for myself.
My self esteem had to be repaired and restored first. I didn’t know that I didn’t actually deserve the disregard for my feelings that was my reality. In my victim mentality I thought that the way to emotional health was compliance to the wishes of others and self sacrifice. The message that I actually believed whether I was aware of it or not, was more like “don’t stand up to anyone and you will be safe”.
The directive “Don’t “LET” anyone abuse you” makes me shudder. It implies that we LET people do this abusive stuff to us. It isn’t that I went around giving my permission for someone to treat me like dirt. Have you ever talked to a victim of domestic violence? The reason that most women have trouble leaving is because they have been convinced that they DESERVED the beating. I didn’t LET anyone abuse me; I just didn’t know that I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I didn’t know my value. My self worth had not been set in place yet. The foundation for self esteem and self worth that should have been set in place when I was a child was missing.
Before I could “not let” anyone abuse me disrespect me, devalue me, define me or disregard me, my self esteem had to be repaired and restored.
What about this one; “Your life is a result of the choices that you make. If you don’t like your life it’s time to start making better choices.” I have a real issue with this one; I tried to “make better choices” for at least 20 years before I finally started to dig into WHY I made the sometimes disastrous choices that I made. The answers were not about “just change and presto all will be well”. The answers were in facing how I arrived at such a broken place.
It is so simple for people to spout off all these “oh so easy answers” to all of life’s problems but the HOW part of it is not so easy. And when I start talking about the “how part” many people run for the hills. There is a huge fear of facing the pain that facing the truth brings and I think that fear goes hand in hand with the fear of taking the action that comes right after the clarity and seeing the truth.
I am so glad that I realized that I am worth the effort that it took to overcome the belief system that had been set in place for me by abusers. I didn’t know that I was worth it at first, but I kept going forward long enough to find out and today I know that I am worth every tiny, huge or medium effort that I put into my life.
Before I could make better choices and before these little posters and quotes were actually uplifting instead of a reminder of “my weakness” I had to find out how I got to where I was. I had to understand and VALIDATE what had happened to me in the first place and the damage that it casued. I had to face the truth about the origins of the broken and I had to do the work to repair it. I had to fight for me before I could stand up for me. The solution was in changing the false messages that I believed about myself back to the truth. THEN I made better choices.
There was an order in this process of healing; and I didn’t start at the end. The solution was not in these deceptively easy sounding directionless directives.
Thankfully, there is a solution and that is what Emerging from Broken is all about.
Please share your thoughts and perhaps some directionless directives that you have heard. Remember that you may use whatever name you wish in the comment form. Although Emerging from Broken has a facebook page, the comments here are not shared on Facebook. The EFB community is growing every day. You are not alone!
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Related Posts; another directionless directive is often found in the whole subject of forgiveness. I have already written about those ones and if you are interested, they can be found here; Forgive the Abusers? A bit of a Rant and The Confusion created around Forgiveness,