Why Do I Keep Rejecting Love And Kindness?

Mathew Baker

7 min read

As part of our "community question series", in this video, professional counsellor & Depression Project co-founder Mathew Baker sits down with renowned interviewer Hayden Turner to answer the question: Why do I keep rejecting love and kindness?

Video Transcript for Why Do I Keep Rejecting Love And Kindness?

Hayden:

Mat, community questions are great. They let us feel the pulse of what people are going through, what they're feeling. And, this one is a great one: Why do I keep rejecting kindness and love?

Mathew:

Yeah, I think this is a great question as well, because for a lot of people, it's common to think why? I mean, why would I do that? Because, it's obviously great to receive love and be on the receiving end of kindness. But, a lot of the times for some people it doesn't feel natural to accept it. And, this can especially be the case if you have depression.

Now, at the core of this is that we tend to only accept the love and kindness that we think we deserve and that we feel comfortable with.

So, if we don't feel like we're worthy of kindness or love, we're going to put up a wall to accepting it. And, we may even question the authenticity of it, or question how can someone be kind to us or love us when we don't see ourselves in that light at all.

And, like I said, this can especially be the case with depression - because a very big part of depression is the worthlessness which comes with it ... the feeling like you're a burden ... feeling like you're not good enough ... feeling like you're a failure. If you have these negative core beliefs about yourself and someone's saying "I love you" or saying really nice things about you or traits they like about you for example, then it's hard to take that in when you're so focused on all the negatives about yourself.

So, I'd say that's a short, simple way of putting it - that we accept the love and kindness that we we believe we're worthy of-, deserving of- and are comfortable with - and that if we don't feel worthy of-, deserving of- and comfortable with love and kindness, then it's going to be really hard for us to accept it.

Hayden:

Mm-hmm. And that has been a journey from when you were born all the way through to wherever you are in life at the moment? That would be reflective of that?

Mathew:

Yeah, so that would be the next component of why someone may not feel like they're worthy- or deserving of love and kindness.

For example, let's say that you weren't treated very well as a child, or maybe you didn't get the love and kindness that you wanted from your primary caregiver. This can lead you to conclude that "the reason I didn't receive much love or kindness is because I didn't deserve it and wasn't worthy of it" - and you can become used to not receiving much love or kindness from other people. So then, in the future, if someone is kind and loving towards you, then it can feel uncomfortable - because you learned how to become comfortable with being neglected in a way, without love and kindness.

And it's not just in childhood, either. It can come from ... let's say you were in a toxic relationship in your adulthood, and were mentally abused by your partner. It could come from a toxic environment where you're constantly belittled by your boss. If you negatively internalise yourself as the cause of these negative events, blame yourself for them and draw negative conclusions about yourself as a result - such as "I was mentally abused and treated badly by my partner because I'm unlovable", "my boss belittled me because I'm a failure", etcetera - then it can lead you to think that you're worthless and that you deserve to be treated badly ... and this can make you much less accepting of love and kindness moving forwards. It can make you reject it and push it away, because you don't feel as if you deserve it.

Hayden:

So what steps can a person take to start accepting that love and kindness?

Mathew:

Well, it's about going back to those past experiences and re-analysing them ... processing them in a way which "serves you better". So, when the way you process them doesn't serve you is when you negatively internalise yourself as the cause of those negative experiences.

So, let's say for example that a parent or a primary caregiver didn't give you the love that you wanted ... perhaps they neglected you and didn't attend to your needs ... in these cases, the natural response can be to conclude something like "it's because I'm unlovable", "it's because I'm not worthy of being treated any better", "it's because I'm not enough", etcetera.

However, to overcome these negative core beliefs about yourself and start healing from these painful past experiences, you can instead bring awareness to all of the other reasons why those painful past experiences may have occurred.

For example, maybe your primary caregiver didn't give you the love you wanted because they had other life stresses going on.

Maybe they weren't capable of giving love.

Maybe they didn't have the time and care to put into your own needs for whatever reason.

And, as you start exploring these other alternative explanations for why these negative past experiences may have occurred ... that's when you can start changing the way you see yourself, and then it gets easier to begin letting in and accepting that love and kindness.

Hayden:

Mm-hmm. It's interesting, there's so many things in that part that you said there.

There's the luxury of time to reflect on those experiences.

There's situations that you might not have the skills when you're really young to understand those points as well. So there's a lot of areas in there that you have to try and pull together to really reflect on that time. I've often heard you say before, when you talk to somebody from the beginning of going through and finding a little bit about them, you normally take it back to a part of ... like a really important part of their life, a trauma or something that's stuck with them. A lot of time we don't deal with them, do we? We move past them. We try and escape them. We move on, and we think we've dealt with them ... but they can affect us ... such as with this acceptance of love and kindness.

Mathew:

And that's the point I think, where as a reaction, we tend to always bring it back to us. When we go through a negative or a painful experience, it can be instinctive to automatically think, "oh, it must be about me. That's why this is happening, that's why it's happened - because I deserve it or because there's something bad about me".

Hayden:

Yeah, right.

Mathew:

Let's say with neglect, for example - where there's nothing being given to you. Experiencing this can lead you to conclude that there must be a reason for that, and that the reason must be to do with you.

So, I think this is part of what we're doing here and part of therapy - offering tools to help people give a much more "critical analysis" of the painful events they went through that ultimately led to them developing negative beliefs about themselves (like "I'm not worthy" or "I'm unlovable"). That sounds a bit scientific, but essentially, at the time you're going through the painful experience, you do what you need to do to survive, to get through it, and to try to move forward ... because you have all of these other things going on in your life to navigate. So you often don't have the time or the resources to really process things deeply.

However, as you go to therapy or watch our content for example, you can gradually start giving more time and thought and awareness to "OK, well what are some other reasons why this painful even took place that aren't to do with me and that aren't my fault?" Now it's a matter of reflecting back on that.

Hayden:

Yeah, going back and trying to do a bit of repair and a bit of self-care in that area.

Mathew:

Yeah, and that's part of it too, because if you don't really do that sort of work, then while it's easy for other people to say "just accept love and kindness", it won't feel comfortable to you. If you don't get that deeper work done, then it'll continue to feel uncomfortable, or at least the depth of comfort you have with that love and kindness won't be as strong as if you did that deeper work.

Hayden:

I think also, when I even heard myself say, "oh, it's the luxury of time", and it sounded like you have to be on the planet for quite a substantial amount of time to actually be able to deal with this ... I'd love to ask you, I personally don't think that's true in a sense because I suppose through your younger years, you definitely don't have a massive amount of experience on the planet, but you still can deal with small traumas or small things that may be affecting you in ... I talk about a long period of time, but it's all relative, isn't it?

Mathew:

Yes.

Hayden:

If you're 15, you might've been through some trauma, and you can start to dig back into those traumas even at 15 years of age, because I don't want to make it sound like it's just for people that have been on the planet for 40 years or 30 years.

Mathew:

No, of course.

Hayden:

It's really important for young people to know that they can dive into some of the things that have happened in the past and start to unpack them as well.

Mathew:

No, of course. I think as well with that, just the mental health industry is very young as an industry, where if you compare it to the medical industry and how long that's been around, versus mental health ... it's very, very young. It just so happens, to your point, where it's in adulthood, you actually have more of those resources available. They don't teach you very much about mental health when you're young. There's no class on reframing trauma that's in school, right?

So, I think it's more about when does the opportunity present itself in terms of having the resources to re-dissect and re-analyse those negative experiences in a way that actually helps you? Because, until you're aware of it, you won't know there's even a problem. For example, someone who's been abused or neglected won't know that - "oh hey, I shouldn't actually be carrying all the weight of this" - until the opportunity presents itself to let go of it, and the resources to re-dissect the painful past experiences and actually heal are made available.

Hayden:

And to do that earlier, what a great thing for your life, to be able to move forward.

Mathew:

Definitely, and something which we're working on doing at The Depression Project. And, I think as the industry grows and as these resources become more and more available, the more and more that opportunity will present itself at an earlier age.

Hayden:

Yeah, fantastic. Great, great guidance.

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