This morning I sat in my favourite cafe with tears streaming down my cheeks. I was crying over some people I don’t really even know. They’d jabbed me right where my insecurities live.

Deep down, like (probably) all of us,

I have some destructive, unkind, horrible beliefs about myself.

They lurk so deep I don’t even know they’re there most of the time.

For the most part I feel fulfilled and at peace with the life I lead, my career, the people I get to work with, my incredible, kind, non-judgemental, self-aware friendships and relationship. It was a long, rocky road to get here, but those lurky feelings don’t dominate me and my relationships like they used to.

Most days I even reckon I’m an alright human doing an alright job of navigating a bloody complicated world.

Until every now and then, an opinion, a whisper, a judgement jabs me right where it hurts,

and suddenly I’m crying in a cafe, shame washing over me.

My psychologist friends call these lurkey lurkisons “schemas”.

Apparently, these shifty little schemas develop before the age of 2 – they’re so deeply rooted in our non-verbal sense of self that we often don’t even have the words to describe them, and we certainly can’t talk ourselves out of them.

They mostly knock on our door in the form of shame, and right behind the bastard, an army of beliefs that we’re inherently broken. The army General of Negative Self Beliefs clutches a file containing a lifetime of biased evidence.

No matter how much work we do on ourselves, facing our demons, getting up close and personal with our many flaws, and our good bits –

the judgements of others can still trigger our oldest, least helpful beliefs about ourselves.

When this happens, it’s like a tornado tears through us, our emotions surge, and in the battle to avoid the shame, lay blame and outsource our hurts,

our mind can quickly create a trail of destruction if we don’t watch it carefully.

In the eye of this shamed-up storm, the best thing you can do is curiously observe your emotions, allow whatever comes up to come up, and remind yourself that eventually the storm will blow itself out.

When you know it’s a storm you’re in, and you know it’s about an old belief or trigger which may not even be true – it’s much easier to stay in the eye, observing as the storm whirls around you.

Fighting with the storm, or trying to distract yourself from it makes everything a lot worse.

When you’re in these storms, take everything that your mind tells you with a sackful of salt – your mind is going based on evidence from your 0-2 year old self.

I’m writing this so that you can know with me – that even if deep down you really believe that

you’re a useless, terrible, unlovable person,

even if you feel SO sure that your negative beliefs about yourself are right…

They’re probably not.

It’s just those “not good enough” lurkey lurkisons, hiding in the shadows of your psyche.

They’re shady characters.

Don’t trust them.

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