Do you have a bully that lives inside of you? Most of us do. Many of us don’t even realize it. The bully sounds like this: I’m not good enough… I can’t do it… I’m too fat… I’m not very pretty… how could you make that mistake? You idiot! How dumb can you be?! You failure!!
Well… it can be a lot worse too. And if you’ve never stopped to listen to yourself, you’ll probably be shocked. Most of us start this inner critical dialogue so young that as adults, we don’t even notice that we are doing it. It’s just “natural.”
But there is really nothing natural about beating yourself up mentally every day. There is nothing right about being a bully to your own self. It’s depressing and it brings us down. It makes us doubtful and fearful and ashamed. It adds to depression and anxiety. No, there is nothing good about criticizing ourselves the way we do.
Most of us are pretty awesome and kind humans. We would never, in a million years, think of speaking to another person that way. Yet, we do it to ourselves all the time.
It’s pretty sad… and damaging. Our brains believe whatever we tell it. If we are constantly telling ourselves that we are a failure, then our brain believes it. And if you’ve been doing it for 20… 30… 40 years… oh, man, that’s hard to break.
Hard, but not impossible.
We break this bad habit, these limiting beliefs, these words that weigh us down and make us miserable by replacing them with positive affirmations. With I ams.
First, you have get real and honest with yourself. You have to listen to yourself, truly, and take note of how you speak to yourself. This is the hardest step because it’s become so ingrained in us, that’s it hard to even see it sometimes. You have to want to listen and accept what your inner critic sounds like.
Once you see it… then you can change it. This takes a lot of practice and it’s slow going at first. When you hear a critical thought, you immediately replace it with a positive one. You’ll need reminders to get started. Alarms on your phone, notes on your mirror, I ams on the home screen of your phone. Pictures printed and placed around the house. You get the idea. You’ll need the reminders or else you’ll just keep doing and saying what you’ve always done and said.
The cool thing about this is you don’t have to actually believe the positive thought. You just have to say it, and keep saying it, over and over. The brain believes what you tell it. Can I repeat that? The brain believes what you tell it.
I love this. It feels really strange at first, like you’re lying to yourself and you may even want to quit because it feels so wrong. But it feels wrong because it’s going completely against everything you’ve done for the last however many years of your life!
Don’t quit. Just keep doing it… because one day, it starts to feel natural. One day, you don’t even need the reminders… you catch your negative thoughts as they start and immediately replace them with good ones. Eventually, you have more positive thoughts than negative ones!
It’s something you’ll have to work at forever though. It’s too easy to slip back into bad habits. We have to continually fill our minds with positive thoughts and loving words towards ourselves. But you know what? It feels great. It feels so good, you want to keep doing it.
Loving ourselves is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. It’s also, I believe, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. When they see us loving ourselves, they learn to do it too.
You’ll have to model it for them. You’ll have to let them know what you are doing and why you are doing it. You’ll have to let them see you struggle through the process and keep doing it. But kids learn more from what we do than what we say. So let them watch and teach them how to do it too. Imagine if we could teach our littles to speak lovingly and kind to themselves at their age!!