Difference between knowing logically and believing

Digz

MyPTSD Pro
I really struggle with believing in myself, liking myself and feeling worthy. It's difficult because through all the therapy I know logically that none of my abusive childhood was my fault. I can logically see that my parents were the bad ones, but there seems to be a big difference between knowing this logically and actually believing that I am intelligent or have good traits of any kind. Perhaps it's because I'm dissociative that I have this disconnect, I don't know.
Does anybody else know things are objectively, logically the truth, but still struggle to believe it and hold onto it as a feeling?

It's weird because I do watercolour painting and people seem to love my paintings, yet I still struggle to believe it's something I am good at. The same with other things I do in my life. It seems logically the truth, yet believing it about myself is a completely different and harder thing.
 

Sideways

Moderator
Absolutely.

I think particularly if your wired with a particular narrative as a child (like "You aren't worthy of love"), if can be extremely difficult to rewire that neural pathway later in life. Despite all evidence to the contrary.

Human brains believe in lots of things despite evidence to the contrary. When it serves a functional purpose? We refer to it as faith, and we coexist with it quite happily and productively.

When it's dysfunctional (like when it causes self-loathing) it can cause all sorts of problems, the big one that I personally experienced being chronic depression.

But (I think) that while it's extremely hard to change those neural pathways, it's not impossible. Different types of therapy use different strategies, the most obvious being CBT, which will redirect you with how to manage your thoughts, emotions and behaviours when these beliefs are causing problems.

But, CBT is just one example. Personally, I've used a combo of therapy approaches to tackle changing my core beliefs about myself. And I'm in an okay place right now, so I'm able to say that (after many, many years) I do seem to be finally noticing a shift.

Probably, for me, the big one was "act in spite of how you feel". I've focused a lot of energy on behaving my way out of my core beliefs. For example, behaving like I'm worthy of respectful treatment by others, and worthy of kindness, even when it really distressed me because I (aggressively) believed that wasn't true, and how dare I, and, and, and...

That has put me in a lived experience where the core belief (I'm not worthy) is inconsistent with my daily lived experience. And power of that core belief has waned, and in some situations, doesn't come up for me at all. There are some situations where I now confidently feel like "I'm worthy of being treated with respect here". Whereas when my healing 'journey' started, I couldn't tolerate that concept at all.

Did I go too much off on a tangent there? I may be projecting my own stuff a bit much...
 

Digz

MyPTSD Pro
@Sideways , No, not a tangent at all. It's very helpful actually, and quite similar in ways to my experience on this topic. I too behave in a different way to how I necessarily feel and I do think that helps to change the narrative. I think the biggest challenge for me is when I'm going through a very triggered time because all those past feelings are on hyperdrive and then I feel very different to what I logically think. I work through all the therapy stuff and tell myself they are past thoughts and feelings but they're so persistent and pervasive that when I go about my everday life I feel them seeping in and making me feel bad. I am hopeful over time, like with you, that changing that narrative might shift me further along the path as well as addressing the new flashbacks. I think part of the other problem for me is that I am highly dissociative so there are a lot of memories hiding in my brain that I don't know to address until they come flashing back with, but the feelings of that little child associated with those memories are still there and influence my ability to believe different to what that kid did. Still, even knowing logically that it wasn't my fault, that I am worthy and good, is progress from where I started many years ago, so I have to acknowledge that and keep trying to take small steps towards one day believing it too.
 

Sideways

Moderator
even knowing logically that it wasn't my fault, that I am worthy and good, is progress from where I started many years ago,
Knowing that you've got these core beliefs, snd being able to define them? Is a huge chunk of the process. That alone took me ages. For most of my life, it was just a pervasive self-loathing that I couldn't really articulate beyond "I hate myself".

Being able to articulate it sounds a bit meh. But it's the step that's required before you can then move to the really hard work, which is identifying how it plays out in your life, and what changes need to be made.

I threw out my journals recently, about 20 years worth. It was book after book after book of me acting out the core beliefs I had about myself: everything from sabotaging relationships and work opportunities to refusing to give myself proper nutrition.

And I totally hear you. When I'm not okay? My go to tends to be forms of self harm that lean in to those dysfunctional core beliefs. It's hard to break out of that cycle especially when I'm dysregulated.

Many times, I didn't break the cycle, but I was able to find a middle ground. Instead of going all the way back to behaviours that reinforce the "I don't deserve" narrative (and isolating is a big one for me), or trying to do the exact opposite (which is just too hard when I'm struggling), I looked for behaviours and that lay in the middle. Stuff that was neutral about deserving/not deserving.

For example: I can accept that I'm an animal. Even if it's a heinous, demonic animal or whatever - I'm some kind of animal, existing on earth. Animals need food, shelter, warmth, to attend to (and avoid) physical and emotional injury, etc. Deliberately behaving in that neutral territory, making choices for myself that didn't dismantle the work I was doing in therapy, has been a helpful way forward a lot of the time.

The ultimate goal may be self compassion. Believing "I'm worthy". But if I at least stop reinforcing the "I'm unworthy" narrative by treating myself neutrally, that's still progress.

I'm not sure that "I'm worthy" is a specific point that I will ever reach, so much as something that will increasingly become more comfortable as a concept, and less work deliberately acting out. Idk. But definitely being able to articulate the problem was the first big hurdle to make meaningful change.
 

Sues

MyPTSD Pro
OMG Yes!! This is so huge for me, and my therapist says it's common. I can know something, but believing it is so hard. I know the abuse wasn't my fault, but I still think it was. If I didn't do this, then he wouldn't have done that. I feel so unworthy even now, and I struggle all of the time with just daily stuff, all the while believing I'm broken beyond repair.
 

ruborcoraxxx

Sponsor
Yeah, it’s what I call the difference between understanding and registering.

I am a very logical person and from the outside, it’s very difficult to pick up how dysregulated and depressed I am.

So the dissociation went to the point I wasn’t even conscious that I had these core beliefs. I did think I was entitled and deserving things, but not acting quite accordingly. Something wasn’t working.

It’s in slowing down and breaking down very discrete thought patterns that I found, like little balls of thoughts, the actual core beliefs. And they weren’t the ones I think.

@Sideways I really feel ya about feeling like an animal, being an animal has been my gateway to get out of the humanity trap and still is at times. At least as an animal I had freedom, but with the price of being a heinous beast—and here we go.

There is really a weird way to maintain both clauses totally contradicting together in one single person. It really creates internal conflicts and distress but since I’ve been able to pin the actual beliefs and have some kind of tenderness towards it, I guess compassion, it’s been easier to reinstate some affection in the logic and some logic in the affection. Taking advantage of the dissociation, I can see myself in a situation where my only escape was to adhere to that belief or create something weird for myself, so it isn’t dumb, it isn’t bad, it’s been necessary and highly adaptive. And I can tell myself it was okay. This gave me relief and felt less forcing through than the CBT and the DBT that I find very useful for damage control, but not so much for inner peace.

At the end of the day I’ve been capable of loving people who harmed me greatly, long story short. If I’m capable of compassion towards that level of harmfulness, then I know I can be compassionate with myself too. And when I say "myself", I think it’s easier to see me as an other person I’m directing the compassion to. Otherwise I can’t really receive it. But then there is a sense of warmth that comes up with that. Not all the time, but gradually more.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Trauma and abuse/depression can do a really good job of destroying our self worth but it's not arrogant to be aware of your own ego. Some people (actually many of us) lose our sense of ego. There's nothing wrong with saying to yourself...actually, I'm really f*cking intelligent and have great skilled talents.

Don't get me wrong, I am often suffering and feel like a piece of shit. But I do have a huge ego. I'm not saying I'm smarter than anyone else. There's a big difference between being arrogant and knowing your self worth.

I'd love to see your paintings @Digz I bet they're great!
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
First what is inside your head is yours and as long as you are not acting on it (that tiny gap of thought and behviour), it is OK to be this way. The culture mixes very much what is inside and outside cause mostly we are often diagnosed what is inside rather than outside so it makes sense that when inside is a bit odd, fearful, and dissociated, we confuse with outside - working, having relationships, being depressed but why would not be - there need a small opening for the inside to breathe!

I am not sure my point but the fact you are very creative and know this and also having difficulties accepting your worthiness in this even after you hear many times how great and worthy you are and you are touching people inside with your art tells me - there is some extreme fusion of your creative side and your negative view of yourself internally. It seems to me there is a fear if you really accept the reality of today, you may lose the art, the creative force so you are holding onto the hard negative interjections from the past in order to enjoy the outlet of the art today. Just a hunch.
From someone who was ridiculously abused, my inside does not match my outside at all but I do use humor (dark and sick depending) and I do like to make a meaning which for me tells me - I cannt smell like a rose growing up in the sewage but I can swim in shit! and make it to other side. Practice one area you have positive and BRING THAT UP often to practice practice practice what it feels to embody a self belief until the edges are softer but not gone completely!
 
Top