Focus on one thought and follow it as far as you can. I find myself trying to do this fairly often now. I will find a chink in my armor of self and begin searching the thoughts that led to it. Take the word cute for instance. It is not a bad word in fact some people consider it a compliment for me it triggers all kinds of badness.
First off cute isn't just applied to children anymore. I myself have been called cute many times. It is most often applied to a petite woman and I have always been that though a round petite still a petite. I envy those women who can claim 5' 5" or more I am on the lower side of 5" 1" and have wished my legs would grow just a bit more but they never have. So when I am animated I get called cute.
Next I step back to age 13. My next door neighbour's have a horse farm and one day the oldest son asks me to go riding with him. He puts me on the horse in front of him and as we ride he talks me up and calls me cute while his hands are roaming in places they have no right to be.
Step back a little bit further and my uncle has me trapped in my closet . He wants to touch me because I am so cute. Starting to get the drift. There were a couple of other incidents like this from the time I began to grow a chest which was elevenish. I do not know how many times I have been molested nor by how many of my uncles, cousins and neighbours. Many, many times and it began when I was two so it was a lot of years.
Ok at this point my mind can take two tracks reliving the abuse or continuing to follow the path that lead me to dislike the word cute when applied to myself. Today I want to avoid the abuse if I can.
The next clear memory I have regarding the word cute is when I was 8 or nine. A man came by looking for directions to someplace and my dad invited him in for a beer. I can only assume that my dad knew him or knew someone connected to him. I was precocious and I ended up sitting on his knee. On his way out he gave me a ring and told me to hold on to it because he would come back for it some day because I was so cute and he wanted to see what I would grow up to be like. I lost the ring and I remember being so sad because now he would never be able to find me again.
Step back now to what I consider the beginning of this connection between the word cute as applied to me and negativity I feel towards it. I am six and it is a beautiful June day. I watched my first ballet on TV the night before and had fallen in love with it. I began dancing with the shadows during recess and I lost myself in my imagination. When the bell ran I was slow coming out of it and by the time I did everyone in the school was gathered around me. They laughed and clapped and I heard the teachers comment on how cute I was. A few days later I came down sick with the chicken pox and missed the last four days of what have been a perfect attendance year. During the chicken pox the clapping and laughter took on a sinister edge and so did the word cute.
What should have been a joyful memory turned into a nightmare and haunted me for a long long time. I have managed to remove some of the fever induced horror but not all of it. and for me the word cute when applied to me had become a dagger to my self esteem. It also prevented me from ever dancing comfortably again except for waltzes. If I could disentangle the fever emotions from the real ones I would be much happier I think but the process is slow because I need to remove from my memory the negative overtones. That is a very hard thing to do.
Take a moment for a subjective pause. Is there a word that when applied to you seems to have a lot of negative overtones even though you know that when they are applied to others they have none? Trace it back as far as you can. Then work on changing the incident in your memory from a bad memory to a good one. Chances are it was supposed to be a good one. Changing how you think about it will also help you change the ones that came after, rather they were meant to be good or bad, so that they no longer impede your self worth.