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Self-Sabotage - Are We Prisoners of the Past?

By Rosella Aranda

Many people who suffer from low self-esteem would give anything to escape their painful feelings of inferiority. Almost anything, that is.

People are reluctant, even obstinate, when it comes to giving up their illusions of an idyllic childhood.

And yet, if we are to break free from our mental prisons, we must become willing to honor the truth of our personal history. This is the key to removing our invisible psychological and emotional chains.

Lack of Self-Worth Does Not Develop in a Vacuum

There is just no getting around the fact that our core beliefs about the world and ourselves and our place in this world are pretty firmly established by the time we are three or four years old.

Lack of parental approval in early childhood exacts a heavy toll. Low self-esteem, the root of all self-sabotaging behavior, hangs heavy around our necks for life

"I Left All That Behind a Long Time Ago

People are quick to grasp at a simple "Out of sight, out of mind escape. Sadly, this is a fantasy. While you can, indeed, leave home and leave your family life behind, their influence does not leave you.

Negative parental messages carry enormous weight. It is through these concepts that everything else later on, (i.e., for the rest of our lives) is filtered.

Clearly then, if these basic messages are more negative than positive, it is not surprising that we would wind up with a badly mangled sense of self-worth.

A life of self-sabotage and perpetual dissatisfaction is what results, because we simply do not believe, at a SUBCONSCIOUS level, that we are worth anything better.

Traditional Morality Would Have Us Turn Away

People recoil at the idea of finding fault with their parents. We have many religious, social and cultural injunctions to honor, obey, respect, forgive, and worship our elders.

These commandments prevent us from looking upon our caretakers in a less than adoring way without incurring a tremendous sense of guilt, betrayal and ingratitude. So we remain unaware.

What people fail to appreciate is that it is only by shattering our ignorance and examining our formative years that we can come to understand what makes us tick. This awareness will, in turn, allow us to process any distress so that we may finally release it. Not ignore it, not camouflage it, but finally release it.

This is all done in a spirit of healing, not one of self-pity, and certainly not one of denunciation. As a result of discovering and embracing our emotions rather than squelching them, we can finally come alive.

Not only do we gain a new sense of vitality, but we gain a new source of wisdom. And our awareness allows us to cut negative patterns off at their source. You see, we cannot let go of something if we don't allow ourselves to acknowledge what we are hanging on to.

Rational Justifications Do NOT Penetrate the Subconscious Mind

Many well-intentioned people and spiritual mentors will agree that while injurious things may have been said and done, we should be mature or evolved enough to understand that our caretakers were doing the best they could.

After all, they didn't mean to hurt us with their harshness or neglect. Why don't we just rise above it and move on? Surely we are noble and generous-hearted enough to forgive them, yes?

Well, no, actually. And for two very important reasons.

First, this is an attempt to reason things out consciously. It is a fruitless activity, because it does nothing to reach and alter the core beliefs and distress that are stuffed down BEYOND conscious access.

And second, the person whose body and/or emotions were assailed was NOT an adult capable of reasoning things out so rationally. The early distress lives on unabated.

We Cannot Live With the Results

We may be able to carry on, but we cannot really live and flourish while those negative core beliefs remain frozen in time. The tragedy for so many of us is that they remain lodged firmly in place today, without our consent and without our conscious awareness.

Down With the Taboo Against Knowing Who We Are

Rather than continue to justify our ignorance, we must dare to bring the unconscious to conscious light. There are compelling reasons for doing so.

  • To heal a mutilated sense of self-worth.

  • To process our present moments through fresh eyes.

  • To avoid becoming subtly mean, cruel or sarcastic.

  • To prevent ourselves from unwittingly passing on our damage.

And finally, and perhaps most compelling of all, if traditional morality continues to deny us knowledge of ourselves and our history, our bodies will end up speaking for us. And this it will do by erupting into disease. Witness the alarming number of people who suffer from depression today.

Our psychological and emotional disturbances must eventually surface as some type of physical or mental malady. Or as I heard somewhere along the way, "If your mouth won't say it straight, your body will say it crooked."

And according to the title of Dr. Alice Miller's most recent book on the victimization of children, The Body Never Lies. Time spent digesting any of Dr. Miller's books is time well spent, indeed.

The greatest healing contribution any of us can make to world is to heal our own wounds, not hide from them or deny them or justify them. After all, we do want to live and not just survive, don't we?

About The Author

Rosella Aranda is the author of Sabotage Thyself No More, an excellent guide to raising your sense of personal worth and getting rid of self-defeating behaviors. Free Mini-Course at


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