“She has it all together; I’m not as perfect as her. Look at her photos and house. She is flawless.”
“Look at my body; it’s not as fit and trim as hers. Look at her hair; it’s so beautiful. I could never get mine to look like that.”
“Her family looks so perfect; look at all of their coordinating outfits. They are all smiling and look so happy together.”
I grew up poor by the United States standards. My single mother was on welfare. Growing up, I recall getting our food from food banks. I recall walking with my mom over to the Pizza Hut by our apartment and loading my mom’s purse with toilet paper from the bathroom.
When you’re young, it’s hard to know how you differ from others. I felt like I was on an equal playing field with my childhood friends, but as time progressed, the classification of socioeconomic status became glaring.
There were things I couldn’t participate in that I wanted to, like Girl Scouts and dance class. Money was always an issue and a reason why I couldn’t do things I saw other kids doing.
I knew we lived in low-income apartments, but at school, I felt like I blended pretty well—until junior high where it was survival of the fittest. I continued to try hard to blend and fit, but it was clear I didn’t have what the other kids had as far as home life and clothes and shoes; I was falling behind.
My teeth were crooked, and I needed braces that my mom couldn’t afford. I became self-conscious of my lack of resources and my crooked smile.
I began shoplifting with a friend in seventh grade so that we could have the clothes that we coveted in others. We would shoplift and then return things for money or store credit. We had this down to a science. Things were going our way until we were handcuffed while going down the escalator at Nordstrom and thrown into a little room for questioning.
Growing up poor affects us and sets us up to have self-limiting beliefs as adults.
First of all, what are self-limiting beliefs?
“To put it simply, self-limiting beliefs are assumptions or perceptions that you’ve got about yourself and about the way the world works. These assumptions are “self-limiting” because in some way they’re holding you back from achieving what you are capable of.”
It’s been a long road, but here are some ways I believe we can overcome these self-limiting beliefs and get on a path to recovering the truth of who we are:
>> Self compassion—or “Maitri” as Waylon of Elephant Journal would say.
>> Learning to love all parts of ourselves. Learning to breathe through disappointment and feelings of inferiority. Learning to be our own best friend.
>> A few years ago, I learned I was wounded. I am an adult child of an alcoholic and grew up with beliefs that have limited me and how I interact with the world.
>> I learned how to become my own loving parent by reminding myself that the critical inner voice I hear in my head is just noise. It’s not the truth. I can release it and let it go.
>> I can pray and write to a God of my understanding. I can let go.
>> I surrender to the world of trying to be enough, and I connect with what is. I connect to those parts of myself that feel not good enough, and I let them be heard. I sit in the sadness of those emotions long enough to feel them and find the root of their existence. Who told me that I wasn’t worthy of good things happening? Where did I learn that? How did that belief come about? When did it start?
>> I can acknowledge the pain of those feelings and how they have held me back in my life. How it feels to walk around feeling not good enough. How it feels to walk into situations, knowing I will mess up and not do as well as others. That nagging voice telling me to quit or that I am not smart enough, that others can see through my persona of being enough.
>> And then once I’ve felt that sadness and pain of not being good enough, I can tell that belief to f*ck off. I can say good riddance.
>> I can learn to walk in my truth. I can hold my head up high. I can lavish myself in affirmations and mantras that help me find my worth. I can remember all that I have overcome and conquered. I can remember that I am a warrior. I can remember that I have risen, and I will rise again.
Let’s learn to sit with ourselves. Let’s relearn how it feels to be with ourselves without the distractions of comparing through social media. Let’s take the time we need to reconnect with our spiritual natures, and while we’re at it, let’s get out and do something in nature.
Let’s be our own best friend.