I had a long, soul searching talk with a good friend not too long ago because I was feeling a little down and said stuff like “I don’t think I could do that. I am not charismatic like him”. She pretended to fall off her chair because she saw it very differently and told me off in her usual brisk manner. “You play in the league of Margret Thatcher or higher” she said to me. Oops, the iron lady… That is how she sees me?

I know I can be tough but that tough? “No, Barbara. I am not talking about being tough. I am talking about you being powerful like the iron lady and maybe even more! You are one of the most powerful and charismatic people I have ever met…”

WOW, that really blew me away. I was choking down my emotions and thought of all the other people who have told me that in the past. I had heard it but never really believed it because I did not really believe in myself.  No matter what people said to me, I had my own picture of myself and that was neither powerful nor empowering.

Where did that come from? It came from the extremely high expectations my father has had on himself and of course also on his only offspring. He wanted a boy but I came out as a girl. That didn’t stop him expecting me to do the same a boy would  and because I wanted him to love me, I obliged. I climbed trees, ripped my clothes, thought dolls were stupid and so on. I became tough and what I thought a boy should be like. But my Dad never seemed satisfied. Somehow I seemed never good enough. Somehow whatever I did was not enough. He beat me up a lot, shut me into a black hole under the staircase and no matter how loud I screamed, he made me stay there. At the same time he loved me to bits (when he was in a good mood). So I went from feeling cherished to feling like a doormat and that continued through most of my life. I gave men a lot of power trying to please them but at the same time trying to show that I am “one of them”. It didn’t work and destroyed my self-esteem more and more.

Fortunately that has changed but that is for another day.

I am sharing these painful experiences because I want you to become aware that how you feel about yourself today – as an adult – usually stems from your childhood and you keep repeating the same patterns that you have learned from those days but fact is, today you have a choice! You can decide how you think and feel about yourself. It is your choice!