Had I not read it in books I wouldnt have known how truly mean I was to myself. Wherever my internal dialogue had sprung from (an eclectic mix of parental voices, other authorities such as teachers, things Id heard on television, that hurtful comment the angry bus driver made, all compounded with a large dose of my own personal venom) it certainly wasnt nice and it certainly wasnt helpful. Until I read about the power of my thoughts, the self-deprecating script just kept on churning, as naturally as breathing air. I gave as little awareness to it as I give to other processes that just happen such as digesting food or inhaling and exhaling. That endless, negative, self-defeating chatter was my constant companion. So much so I would have identified it as being me. When I read that the way we think affects our lives, it made a lot of sense. If I was constantly putting myself down, being unsupportive of myself, and scaring myself with worry, no wonder my life was not the way I wanted it to be.
I was no stranger to depression and was often anxious. Life can be complicated and overwhelming enough I realized, without me adding fuel to the fire and making everything even more difficult. Negative thinking is erosive. It will wear you out. I got it! Perhaps I deserved a breakfrom myself. So searching for anything that would help, I learnt to pay attention to my internal dialogue. At first this was quite shocking wow I give myself a hard time!, then I became curious hmmm I could help myself out here. Finally, I had some mastery I dont choose to think that about myself anymore.
Gosh! I was horrible to myself. See if you can identify with any of the following: The perfectionist in me would always doubt that anything I did was good enough. The fearful part would foresee the doom in any eventuality and terrify me into regular insomnia. The critical part would tear to pieces any minor human error and turn it into a feat of monstrosity. And, Id call myself some horrible names. I know this isnt just me. I hear people doing it all the time.
If youre anything like me you are probably way harsher on yourself than you ever would be on another person. Some of the things we think about ourselves, and call ourselves, we wouldnt dream of saying to another person. Would you turn around to another person and tell them how stupid they are? Or watch a child learning to crawl and criticize it for not doing it right? Probably not. We wouldnt do it to another person because that would be hurtful and demoralizing. Generally, we want the best for others. We support them, praise them, encourage them. But we dont do the same for ourselves. In fact we put ourselves down.
By giving ourselves a hard time we contribute to our own downfall. We are not able to be the best that we can be. We limit ourselves and, in doing so, we also limit what we can give to others.
After bringing some awareness to the way I think, I needed to replace these thoughts with something else. Stopping these thoughts in their tracks was a first good step. I still do this now. Silly me is followed immediately with Im allowed to make mistakes. This is not enough however. My critical internal dialogue needed a complete revamp. So I started to think about the things that I would say to me if I were someone that I loved. And I started to talk to myself like that.
When I learnt to replace the horrible, attacking, crushing thoughts with thoughts that were soothing and encouraging and supportive, when I became my own cheerleader standing on the sidelines shouting me on, life became a much nicer place to be. Within the last two weeks my friend has apologized to me for being useless, another woman made a remark about herself in a photo as looking like a poisoned troll, someone else called themselves a fool. And it makes me want to weep! Its time that we stopped all the self-deprecation and started to see how truly, wonderfully, beautiful and talented and capable we are. My life is much easier now that I praise myself for trying, rather than berate myself for failing. And I just keep going from strength to strength.