Here is an example. If a young woman – let’s call her Sara – thinks about herself ‘Im not good enough, I’m inadequate,’ she will often see other people as being superior to her. The fact that she feels inferior will have far-reaching implications for the way she creates her relationships. The fear of being rejected by other people because of her perceived inferiority will have a considerable impact on her personal experiences, motivating her to do particular things or making her avoid having to do certain things.
Sara’s beliefs of ‘I am not enough’ and ‘I am inferior’ define her self-esteem and affect how she manages her life and relationships. She makes determined efforts to live up to expectations. She wants to have everything under control. She strives for perfection, and is slim, stylish, and professionally quite successful. But she rarely feels that she is being who she truly is and lives in the constant fear that others might notice how inadequate she really is.
But where does this deeply rooted belief come from?
In Sara’s case, her ‘beliefs’ and the resulting self-preservation strategies (striving for perfection and control) are due to unhealthy formative influences in her childhood.
Sara’s parents – in their good intentions to support her – set narrow boundaries for her and often criticized her. This has resulted in Sara’s belief that she is inadequate. Her mind has been programmed that she must work hard to please other people. This presumed certainty functions like a kind of lens through which Sara perceives herself and the world.