Why Some People Are Doubtful and Others Are Confident

Have you ever spent time with a person who doubted nearly everything they did or how about a person who is confident in their speech or actions?  What if they grew up in the same household yet there this huge difference between the two of them?  How can this be?

Erik Erikson in his eight stages of psychosocial development explains that between the ages of two and four a child learns either confidence or doubt.  His second stage of development, Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt, recognizes the importance of the toddler to learn to do things or make choices on his/her own.  Too often, this time is marked by the toddler’s repeated statements of “I do it” or “by myself” as an attempt to gain what little control they can.  It is also marked by temper tantrums that seem to come out of nowhere, or do they?

The Psychology.  A toddler is trying new things such as potty training, putting on their clothes, eating without help from a caregiver or pretending to read a book.  They also like to mimic the behavior and attitude of the caregiver or other siblings in an attempt to learn more or do more on their own.  But if the caregiver insists on doing everything for the child because they take too long or don’t do it the right way, the child learns to doubt their own ability.  The child may choose mismatched clothing but the sense of accomplishment that they did it allows them to gain confidence.  On the other hand if the caregiver reprimands the child, they feel a sense of shame and doubt.

The Child.  As the child grows, this confidence allows them to continue to try new things and even though they may not do it right the first time, they have learned that they can keep working at it and eventually get it right.  If however they develop doubt, they may be fearful of trying new things, insist that others help them, or throw temper tantrums when there is too much control or too little control.  Either way, the child is not capable of controlling him/herself so they enlist the help of others using whatever means necessary including negative.

The Adult.  An adult who has learned to be confident is willing to go after the promotion, be bold when asking someone out on a date, or be comfortable in a room full of strangers.  An adult who has learned to be doubtful questions the logic of even the most basic level of decisions, seeks other domineering people to make decisions for them or is insecure even in parties where they know almost all of the people.  This trail of indecisiveness and insecurity can sometimes cause them to feel shameful unnecessarily even when they have not done anything wrong.

The Cure.  Once a doubtful person recognizes that they do not need to feel shame for their decisions, that they are entitled to make a decision and fail, or that they do not need input or approval from others they can begin to heal.  While an overly controlling caregiver can stifle the growth of a two to four-year old, the now adult child can gain confidence from trying things in a manner different from how they were once trained.  For instance, if the child was told they must match their clothing before leaving the house, the simple exercise of wearing mismatched clothing to the grocery store can become a new foundation.

One more thing to remember is that as a Christian you are not called to live a life of fear but rather a confident life secure in knowing that Jesus is your Savior.  It does not matter what tragedy happened to you as a child during these formative years, what does matter is that you realize you are not bound to a life of doubt and shame but rather a life of freedom and independence.

Watch this YouTube for more information:

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Why Some People Feel Guilty Over Everything

You have met the guilty type: the person who feels bad over things they have no control over, the person who takes responsibility for other’s mistakes, or the person who can’t seem to rest because there is so much to do.  Yes, you have met this person and they may be staring back at you in the mirror.  Frequently thoughts such as “I should not have”, “I can’t believe I did this”, “I feel so bad”, or “I wish I could” plague their mind as they actually believe that everyone else thinks this way too.  These thoughts often paralyze them into hours or days of inactivity or worse senseless busyness.  But there is a better way.

The third stage of Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Development is Initiative vs. Guilt which occurs during the delicate years of four to six.  Taking initiative is the ability to formulate a plan, an idea, or a scheme and then begin the process.  It does not necessarily mean completing it however, this is a different stage of development.  Guilt is an emotion where a person feels responsible, takes blame, feels shame or remorse for something that has happened.  Although, it does not necessarily mean that the person committed the action.

The Psychology.  These years are associated with the preschool and kindergarten years for a child when they either learn to take initiative or to feel guilty when they don’t.  During this time, they are very interactive with play usually creating some type of random game or imaginary scenario to reenact.  If a child is allowed the freedom to play their own game or be imaginative without criticism, they learn to take initiative.  If not, they feel guilty because their idea was not good enough or was done the wrong way.

The Child.  As the child progresses, if they have learned to take initiative they will naturally take responsibility in other areas of their life as well.  They will want to learn and become more involved in their own basic care such as learning to cook (easy things), hygiene, academics, and sports.  If they have not learned to take initiative, they may be uncharacteristically shy about trying new things without constant approval from others, they may be afraid to share ideas for fear of criticism, and often refuse any leadership opportunities.

The Adult.  An adult who has learned to take initiative will handle change relatively well with an ability to formulate new plans as needed.  They have learned to manage themselves and maintain a sense of self-control.  However, the adult plagued by thoughts of guilt often takes on too much responsibility to mask their irresponsibility in other areas of their life.  They constantly feel bad for others and try to “help” others even to their own detriment.  Sadly, they are more than willing to subordinate their plans to others because their plan is never good enough.

The Cure.  Recognizing the guilty thoughts and calling it guilt is half of the battle.  The other half is counter-acting the thoughts with truth.  For instance, if a person feels guilty because they got a promotion over a coworker, they need to stop and recognize that they are not responsible for the decision, a manager is.  Moreover, perhaps the reality is that the guilty person, not the coworker, actually works harder and does deserve a promotion.  As long as the guilty person did not jeopardize their coworker’s chance at the promotion, there is nothing to feel guilty over.

The only time God uses guilt is to convict us of a sin.  All of the other times a person feels guilty, they are actually taking on more than their responsibility and risking their health and welfare in the process.  Realizing that Jesus Christ already bore the price for sin and He has already taken on the responsibility, eliminates the need for anyone to take on the sins of others.  Instead, the guilty adult must learn to shed the unnecessary guilt and begin to take initiative for the things they are responsible for handling.

For more information, watch this video. 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Why Some People Feel They Never Do Anything Right

“I can’t ever do anything right.”  While this seems to be an overgeneralization and certainly there is some evidence to the contrary, there really are people who do believe that they can’t to do anything right.  Perhaps you are married to someone like this, have a friend who says this frequently, a coworker who complains that nothing they do is ever right or you catch yourself saying those words.  And while arguing the points of the matter is unproductive, what does make sense is trying to understand where such thoughts may be coming from and how they can be changed.

The fourth stage of Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Development is Industry vs. Inferiority which occurs during the prime school age of six to twelve.  During this time, most learning is root memorization and children have an amazing ability to grasp large quantities of information.  This is why the show, “Are You Smarted Then a Fifth Grader” is so interesting.  Industry is the ability to develop some pride in the work a child does separate and apart from their parents’ expectations.  Inferiority arises when a child has been told the quality of their work is not good enough or they are not capable of doing as well as other children.

The Psychology.  This is a time in a child’s life when they are most likely to try different sports, begin to like one subject over another, develop friendships at school outside of parental involvement, and start to question “why is it this way”.  While they ask the “why” questions now, their ability at this age to reason has not fully developed yet.  If the child feels a sense of accomplishment, believes they are capable of doing a good job, or finds value in their natural abilities then they will develop a sense of industry.  If however the child believes they are inadequate, produce poor quality work, or are weak compared to others then they will develop a sense of inferiority.

The Teenager.  As the child grows into a teenager, the sense of industry propels them to work harder in the areas that they already excel naturally in doing.  They may be excellent basketball players so now they work harder to achieve a goal of a scholarship and take pride in their ability to dunk a ball.  The teenager who develops a sense of inferiority sometimes shuts down and refuses to perform because they believe their work to be inadequate.  Or they do just enough to get by, never really trying to excel at anything because they are afraid of the pending rejection if they fail.

The Adult.  A sense of industry will serve an adult well as they need little micromanagement to accomplish a task.  They are confident in setting goals and while they may not achieve them every time, they still keep on trying and generally enjoy doing some type of work.  A sense of inferiority keeps an adult tangled in a web of fear: if they don’t do a task, they will be rejected by others; if they do a task and it works, it is never good enough; if they do a task and it doesn’t work, they will face rejection again.  So they opt for the easiest way out which is to do nothing and usually end up with jobs that are far beneath their level of ability.

The Cure.  One of the hardest concepts for an inferior feeling adult to grasp is understanding that everyone is unsure about themselves from time to time.  They have so internalized the feelings of inadequacy that they believe others really are better than them because they have more talents, gifts, opportunities, friends, and support.  Ideally, the inferior feeling adult needs to realize that they do have a purpose in life and they do have special talents to match that purpose.

By explaining that God created everyone for a purpose and then equipped them with unique talents to serve that purpose, a person can be transformed from inferior feeling to productive.  Once one area of their life has been transformed, the other areas will follow and the adult will have a new sense of how they fit in the world around them.

For more information, watch this video. 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Why Some People Don’t Know Who They Are

Have you ever watched someone struggle with answering a simple open-ended statement such as, “Tell me about yourself”?  They seem to get lost often looking like a deer caught in the headlights and respond with confusion, “Well, what do you mean?”  Or “What do you want to know?”  Occasionally they may even give with overly generic statements that by the end you still have no idea who this person is in front of you.  Their struggle is not because they don’t know how to answer as much as it is because they really don’t know who they are and how they fit in with society.

These adults have not yet mastered Erik Erikson’s fifth psychosocial stage of development called Identity vs. Confusion.  During the years of twelve to eighteen, most teenagers begin the search for who they are in comparison to the other adult and peer influences in their lives.  Around twelve years old, a teen develops the cognitive ability to critical think instead of just rote memorization.  All of the information the teen has learned is now being simulated into their life.  This is why the most frequently asked question by a teen is, “Why did I need to know this for my life” especially when it comes to something they are not interested in such as trigonometry, biochemistry, or metered poetry.

The Psychology.  Developing a sense of identity requires all of the years between twelve and eighteen and cannot be accomplished early.  It is not until the teen has reached past eighteen that a person is able to properly assess whether or not they developed a strong sense of who they are.  Understanding who you are means that you can identify the characteristics, traits, talents, gifts, and interests that distinguish you from the other members of your family or your peers.  Not only can you identify these things but you must also be comfortable and appreciate your uniqueness.  A person who is confused takes on a similar personality to a parent or peer instead of developing their own or they take on a personality designed for them by a parent or peer.  In either case, they do not develop their uniqueness nor take pride in it.

The Never Ending Teen.  A common belief that came out of the 1970’s generation is that a person needs to “find themselves”.  While this is true, it should be done during the teen years and be completed just prior to entering into adulthood, it is not supposed to be a life-long exploration.  The never-ending teen is one who goes to college to have a good time and leaves still having a good time only to move back home when the money runs out usually without any prospect of a career.  They are in a state of confusion as to who they are, what they can contribute, how they fit in, and were they are headed.

The Adult.   Even sadder is an adult who still struggles with these issues twenty or forty years later than they should.  The adult remains confused and frequently blames society, parents, spouse, children, or anyone else for the shortfalls in their life.  This is not to be confused with a mid-life crisis which is entirely different as a person reflects on their life and frequently makes major changes because they are unhappy with the direction they are headed.  Rather, this is a lack of direction from the beginning or a lack of desire to even have a direction.

The Cure.  In order for a person who is confused about their role in life to continue on that journey into adulthood, there must be another person enabling them.  This person makes excuses for them, indulges them, minimizes their behavior, or likes them just the way they are because they are more easily manipulated and controlled.  So to change the confused adult, the adult who is enabling them needs to stop.  Otherwise, the confused adult will have no motivation to change their behavior.  Once this has happened, the confused adult can begin the hard work of figuring out who they really are.

The good part is that God did create everyone for a purpose so the confused adult is not on a pointless journey into never-never-land.  An adult who can identify their special gifts and talents and who knows how to use those gifts and talents contributes well not only to their family but to society.

For more information, watch this video. 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

Why Some People Never Learn to Trust Others

Have you ever wondered why some people cannot seem to trust anyone?  Maybe you are married to someone who despite all of your positive efforts of encouragement still struggles with being able to trust you.  Maybe you have a friend who automatically distrusts everyone they come in contact with including supposed safe categories of people such as the police or a pastor.  Or maybe you have a child who mistrusts everything you say.  Regardless of any positive outcomes, they remain steadfast in mistrust.

There are some concepts that psychology does really well and some that it tragically falls short but one that has stood the test of time is Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development.  The first stage from birth to eighteen months is Trust vs. Mistrust and it is the foundational stage upon which all future issues lie.  If a person learns to trust others for feeding, nurturing, comfort, and safety during this time, then they will have an easier time trusting others in the future.  But if they don’t learn to trust, then the foundation has been laid for a lifetime of mistrust.

The Psychology.  Simply put, Erikson concluded that all babies by their nature need to trust someone to care for them as they are incapable of self-care between birth and eighteen months.  During these foundational years, a baby must rely on crying to communicate all needs: food, comfort, pain, nurturing, and safety.  It is the responsibility of the caretaker (hopefully the parent) to meet those needs in a loving manner.  If the infant fails to have his/her needs met then they learn not to trust their caretaker for meeting their basic needs.

The Child.  A child who learns to trust the caretaker to meet the most basic needs now is capable of trusting them even further to meeting his/her wants and desires.  On the other hand, a child who learns to mistrust the caretaker fails to develop any further trust and subsequently has a difficult time attaching to the caretaker.  There is an unnatural distance between the caretaker and the child as neither one engages with the other, it is a distance that only grows as the child grows.  But a child who has learned to trust will naturally run to the caretaker whenever there is trouble and the bond between the two is unmistakable.

The Adult.  As a trusting adult, the evidence of trust will be seen in many relationships but most evident in a marriage relationship.  However, if the adult as a child attached only to the same sex parent, they may struggle with trusting someone of the opposite sex, the same is true in reverse.  More obvious is the adult who never learned to trust anyone as a child, now struggles with trusting friends, family, colleagues, spouse, children, and especially the spouse’s family.

The Cure.  Just because someone grew up in an environment where they learned not to trust anyone, does not mean this must be permanent.  It does mean that it will be a struggle or even an ongoing battle but it can be overcome with hard work, time and energy.  Learning to trust God is one of the best ways to conquer mistrust and while this may seem counter-intuitive, it does work.  In some ways, God is easier to trust than humans because He is not human but supernatural so the old wiring that says people cannot be trusted does not apply.  God also provides a safe environment free from criticism or rejection.  But for some, this is a hard concept to grasp as every fiber in their being tells them that if they cannot trust a caregiver, how can they trust God?  So instead it becomes a leap of faith that is too big or scary.  For the others that take the leap of faith and trust in God, their trust extends slowly to others as time has passed and evidence has been gained that some people can be trusted.

The next time you run across someone who has a hard time trusting others, spend a bit of energy in understanding their perspective and try to see life from their point of view.  You will frequently find some trauma in the early years between birth and eighteen months that justifies their position.  So, don’t give up on them, trust them first and be a light to others who are trying to find their way in a sea of mistrust.

Watch this YouTube video for more information: 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.