I used to make all the parents feel INCREDIBLY awkward when I was a kid.

I had this thing with my sports activities where I’d walk up to the front of the room when my name was called to collect my trophy or medal…

…but instead of smiling and accepting it like all the other kids…

I would pause, wait for the clapping to die down, scan the room, then say something like:

“I just want everyone to know that I’m not going to accept this trophy because I didn’t play good enough and I don’t actually deserve it. Thank you.”

Then I’d hand the trophy back to the team mom or coach or whoever handed it to me and walk back to my seat.

And of course the parents would eyeball each other awkwardly and wonder…

“Oh fuck… so, do we clap?

What do we do with this trophy now?

Do we try to convince her she totally deserves it? 

Do we awkwardly ignore this kid and call the next one up for her trophy?”

WHY would I repeatedly act like that? 

Good question. But here’s an even better one to ask:

WHAT would a child have to believe to repeatedly act like that?

Here’s my answer:

  • I suck.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m not deserving of praise.
  • Mistakes and failures are unacceptable.
  • I don’t deserve anything unless I’ve performed perfectly.

See, I’d picked up a toxic mix of beliefs about myself, performance, perfection, and mistakes. 

And within the context of that mix, my seemingly ridiculous actions actually made perfect sense.

So did the self-hatred, shame, and embarrassment I constantly journaled about as I entered my teenage years.

It makes SENSE that a kid who believed those things in the list above would feel and act like I did


Instead of constantly wondering WHY you do things that don’t serve you, seem productive, or make sense, do this instead:

Ask yourself:

WHAT would I have to believe to keep acting this way?”

The insights you gain from switching over to this question will often uncover the root cause of your behavior + actions.

And it’s only after you develop awareness about the root causes of your behaviors that you’re actually empowered to permanently change them.

Until then, you’re just taking shots in the dark, hoping that what’s worked for others will work for you.

Ask yourself that one question.

Watch what happens.

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