148398503My Mum always warned my older sister that one day I would be big enough to fight back. Most of the time, I would swing my fists wildly at her but they always missed their mark because I was just too small. And so the cycle of bullying and physical and mental abuse continued every single day.

But sure enough, that day arrived. It was a day I dreamed of but never thought would come. It was on a Thursday night that my sister spat in my face and tried to slap me while she pulled at clumps of my hair. I swung my arm out to defend myself, as I always did, but this time it was different. Rather than punching wildly at the air, my fist reached her face and with the sudden thrill of it all, I punched her a second time. She screamed and ran to her room, mouthing obscenities as she slammed the door.

I have never again felt such a burst of complete exhilaration. But although the physical violence ended on that day, the mental effects were far from over.

You see, my sister had taught me for more than ten years that I was worthless. Her constant bullying and abuse went unrestrained, giving me further evidence that I had no value. As a result, my journey into adolescence and adulthood was devastated by a crippling fear of meeting new people and an overwhelming belief that failure would become the inevitable outcome of everything I tried to be.

Even though we grow up, we never leave the child that we were behind. Inside every one of us is that small child, in my case filled with the despair of worthlessness. But there’s something else. Even though some people are no longer in our lives, people we were glad to see gone, they too are still inside us, taunting us with their abusive thoughts.

The single largest obstacle to believing in yourself is believing that you are not worthless. It may sound easy but in reality it is the hardest thing because your self-worth was taught to you when you were a child.

Sometimes, we try to hide who we really are. But the person we hide on the inside is usually the most visible on the outside. A sense of worthlessness invades our confidence, making us shy, embarrassed, weak-willed. It perniciously undermines our attempts at being all that we can be.

It took me two decades to value myself. I started by talking to that inner child. Praising and valuing that child. Stopping the negative thoughts that reinforced a sense of worthlessness.

Children who are subjected to bullying and abuse don’t leave it all behind. They are forced to live with it for the rest of their lives.

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