There are many words that can help define this word, agreements.

Assumptions, interpretations, accusations, biases, prejudices, self-beliefs, my understanding, a contract, unity, harmony, accordance, arrangement, compatibility, consistency, and others can help describe what agreements are.

But the essence of this word for my purpose is the awareness that we have taken on, been given, been named something in our past that has stuck with us to this day. Somewhere along our journey, we made an agreement with this moniker that it was and is true about me. 

Some of these agreements can be positive. (e.g. I have worth, my voice matters, I am capable, kind, strong, lovable, etc.) When we agree with these monikers, we build our real selves up and then live into these agreements by providing sweet value to our lives and the lives of others.

The challenge comes when we can’t remember any positive statements or when we never got any in the first place. 

We will then easily hear and remember the negative statements about self - (e.g. I’m stupid, I’m unlovable, I’m to be seen and not heard, I’m not enough, I’m too much, I’m just an addict, I deserve what I get) - and then live into them.

By this, I mean we will live defensively trying to prove to self and others that these monikers are false. 

Defensive living is a hopeless task. 

We do 10 things to prove our case against these negative monikers and then do 1 thing that approves the negative, and all our hard work is instantly shot down.  We stand again with that negative moniker hanging around our necks.  Choking and dragging us right back into the depressive pit we try so hard to climb out of. 

The problem is, the agreement I made as a kid or adult says that the negative moniker is true about me!  But what is the Truth about me?  Who am I at the core of my being?  To whom have I given the power to name me?  Who is hanging this moniker around my neck as a badge defining who I am? 

Some find help from a higher power.  Who did your higher power create you to be?  Who would your higher power describe or see you to be?  If your higher power is loving, then this negative moniker must not be true. 

But how do we deal with it?

I’m so glad you asked.  If you think this process is anything but hard, long, and challenging, then you are not dealing with reality.  These negative monikers are present with us each day.  Many of them we now tell ourselves (agreements) even if those who originally gave them to us are gone. 

The first challenge is to identify these monikers in our today lives and  relationships.  They are the negative beliefs that we try to ignore. That are actively controlling how we see ourselves and therefore how we live each day in all kinds of relationships. 

Name your ‘monikers.’

The next challenge is to consider your story and see where, when, who spoke or inflicted this moniker on you.  You can look from outside the situation knowing what you were thinking and feeling.  You can answer the questions, “What did I need at that time? What needed to happen for me at that time?”

Then you can insert your adult self into the story and rewrite that chapter including the truth about that younger you.  You can speak the truth about your younger self and those who were hanging the moniker on you. 

This can be difficult, because these monikers have been anchored deep into us for a long time.  So this will take intentionality, vulnerability, and courage to confront these agreements. 

Identify a story from your past that connects with each moniker.

The final step is the most exciting and requires the most energy.  I call it the “HellNo” step.  We said, “Hello” to the agreement, and it was hung around our necks.  Now we have the opportunity and privilege to say, “Hell No!  That isn’t the truth about me!” and rename ourselves with the truth. 

Identify the TRUTH about you in each story.

All of this is extremely challenging, so it is best done with a trusted therapist and/or recovery group. Sometimes we need to ask for help seeing the negative messages and the truth about our Real Self. 

Don’t do this alone.  We were created for community, and this is best done in community with a gifted, safe therapist.

-Doug Harsch, LPC, CSAT-C