“I’m too old” “I’m too young” “I’m not smart enough” “I’m so stupid” “I’m too fat” “I’m too skinny” “I can’t do it” “They don’t like me” “I’m not perfect” “I talk too much” “I’m shy” “I hate my hair/teeth/voice/body” “I’m not worth it” “I am such a loser”
Negative self talk. We all do it. The list mean things we say to ourselves is endless. These are things we would never say to a friend, much less a stranger, yet we say them to our selves constantly.
People tell me “You are so strong!” “How did you get so strong?” Well ….the hard way! When you are in an abusive relationship, bruises heal and fade away. However, the words that are said, the insults that are hurled at 100 miles per hour, the underhanded comments that are said just loud enough for you to hear but not loud enough for others, the gaslighting, that all takes a serious toll on your mental health and self esteem.
So, how did I get so strong? It was not easy. Therapy was the first line of defense. Being vulnerable to open up, owning my weaknesses and mistakes was work. Unpacking years of emotional baggage was work. Changing destructive patterns of behavior was work. It was all hard work.
One of the most difficult pieces to address was untangling the web of lies and unwrapping the person I had hidden away. The verbal reel of negative and patronizing comments, put downs,  insults and insecurity played over and over in my head until I learned to reframe it and play a different tape. That took work.
Part of that work was creating a new soundtrack. This new reel needed to be filled with positives and encouragement. Thus started my practice of affirmations. I did not think it would work but I was willing to try anything. I had coached my Girls on the Run to encourage each other with positive words. We threw our Negative Nellie words in the trash, figuratively and in reality. Now it was my turn to practice what I was preaching. I wrote all the negative words and statements about myself i could think of and then tossed it in the trash. Gone!
I wrote a new affirmation for myself each week. I set it as a reminder on my phone and wrote in on post it notes. I repeated it multiple times a day. It was silly but I had to try. It sounds like it was easy….nope….it was WORK. I did not want to do it some days (more days than not!) but I repeated the affirmation over and over each week.
Slowly but surely, things started to change. I was listening to myself. I was hearing what I was saying to myself. I was creating a new soundtrack. I began to catch myself when I started saying something negative and reframing that to a positive….”I can’t do that” became “I can’t do that …yet.” “I’m too old” became “I have more experience than other people. “I talk too much” became “I have a lot to share”
There are days I still struggle but I lean on my affirmations. They held me resent and realign to my values each day. They remind me that I am worth it and that being positive is a practice that is work each day.
What are you telling yourself? Are you cutting yourself down or building yourself up? Are you disparaging yourself or encouraging yourself? You are your own worst critic and your own best cheerleader. The choice is yours but no matter what you choose, it is going to be work!