A short letter, tonight, I promise.
It never ceases to amaze me, even after all the airline miles I’ve accumulated; I awoke this morning in New York and had lunch in California. And I was even in Texas for a bit, today, too.
And, since all I did was sit on an airplane for three hours, run through an airport and get on another airplane for four more hours, I had a little time to just sit and think.
I am completely exhausted. Totally. And, by telling myself I am completely exhausted, I am, now, in fact, completely exhausted, whether I actually was to begin with or not. That’s how it works, in case you were wondering.
I believe, 100%, totally, completely and without exception, we are what we say we are. If we say we are tired, we are going to feel tired. If we say we feel sick, we are going to feel sick. If we say we cant’ do something, we have no reason to even try.
Have you ever had someone say horrible things to you? Mean things, about you? You’re not smart enough. You’re not athletic enough. You’re not strong enough. You’re too slow, you’re too out of shape, you’re too old, you’re too young, you don’t have enough time, you don’t have enough money, you don’t have enough patience, you don’t have enough education, you’re dumb, you’re fat, you’re ugly. Ever? Has anyone close to you ever said anything to you that was anything other than positive, respectful and supportive? I’m sure. I’m sure, and more than you realize. So, do you believe them? Perhaps, perhaps not.
Don’t you ever talk to me that way!
But if there were someone in your life that you were extremely close to, trusted more than anyone else in the whole world and they told you any of those things I listed above once, would you consider the possibility that it were true? What if they said it to you over and over and over, day after day after day? Do you think you’d eventually think they may be right? Would you eventually be convinced?
Did you ever fib, maybe just a little, as a kid? Perhaps in order to get out of something you knew you’d get in trouble for; breaking a vase or a window, trampling the new flowers in the flower bed, eating the last twelve Oreos? And did you ever continue to deny the incident vehemently and repeatedly, to the point where, eventually, you believed your own lie? It happens. Even to adults. We can convince ourselves of our own lies if we speak them often enough.
I know someone close to you that treats you badly, tells you horrible things about yourself, repeatedly, every single day. And you let them. And, you trust them, because they are closer to you than anyone you know. You believe them, without a doubt, you have been convinced, after years and years and years, a lifetime, of being told the same lies over and over and over.
That person is you.
We speak to ourselves in ways we’d likely never tolerate from others, no matter who they were to us. Think about it. How often do you tell yourself you can’t do something for one reason or another? How often do you look in a mirror, or at a photo of yourself and say something negative about your appearance? How often do you attempt something, make a little mistake and tell yourself you were right in knowing you couldn’t do it in the first place?
How do you suppose you’d feel about yourself if your parents or someone else equally close to you told you, on a daily basis, maybe even several times a day, that you were ugly, you had too strong of a chin, a fat belly, thin hair, an unsightly birthmark, hairy arms, that you were bowl legged, too tall, flat chested. Next time you walk past a mirror, catch what it is, exactly, you notice about yourself.
We are horrible to ourselves. Listen up! Listen to the things you say to yourself when you aren’t paying attention. I’m serious. Listen to your self speak, your self doubt. This is your self control, your negative self control. You control yourself by limiting yourself with every negative thing you think or say. You are standing between you and everything you need to reach your goals, your dreams and your potential. We truly are our own worst enemy. And, even worse, since we are so horrible to ourselves, often we allow those around us to act in kind. In fact, if we can’t treat ourselves with love and respect, doesn’t it seem a little unreasonable to expect others to rise above?
In fact, people will treat us in the manner they see us treat ourselves. We set the expectation, the precedent, with our own self-respect.
Let’s look at this from another angle. Do you know anyone who spends a great deal of time complaining about ailments, or being tired, or unhappy, broke, or how about people who respond, habitually, with “I can’t, because …”? Or all of the above? Do you like spending a lot of time with them? You know they are a lot more capable, well, smart, strong, healthy than they think they are and they just need to change their attitude and do it. You know it, in their case, but what about when you’re chatting with yourself. Well, pot, this is kettle, and you’re black.
Am I right?
What do we do about all this negativity? Stop it. Cold turkey.
Start making a concerted effort, listen to the voice in your head and how you speak to yourself. Make note of when you think or say things, to yourself, that are, in any way negative or derogatory. And correct it, right then and there. Whatever negative thing you catch yourself thinking or saying, correct it, out loud, if possible. This will take both practice and persistence, but it works. Begin to compliment yourself for the very things you used to criticize yourself for. Soon, you will find you feel more energetic, healthier, smarter, faster, stronger, more capable, more confident and, best of all, happier.
This practice, though, is much like building physical strength, endurance or stamina. You can’t just raise yourself off of the couch on January 1st and go run twenty miles if you’ve never run a significant distance before. You will have to work out, regularly. And, you’ll have to keep building those muscles, forever. Let’s say you work really hard, for several months, to be able to do 100 push ups. Once you achieve that goal, you can’t just stop doing push ups and continue to be able to do 100 push-ups. If you stop doing push ups regularly, you lose the ability to do so many. Developing a positive “self-speak” policy and a healthy self-confidence, like working out, requires regular practice to maintain. Daily, for the rest of your life.
Develop some kind of practice, or routine, that you can incorporate into your day to bolster a healthy conversational relationship with yourself. If you find you always criticize yourself when you catch your reflection in the mirror or when you see pictures of yourself, put up more mirrors and take more pictures. I’ve talked to you about “selfies” before! I believe in them! I always have!
I also find a great benefit in journaling every morning and every night. It doesn’t take a great deal of time and it sets the tone for my day before it begins and puts everything in perspective, again, before it ends. I actually write down all the positive things I would like to tell myself in order to evolve into the person I intend to become; stronger, healthier, more grateful, more tolerant, more forgiving, etc. And, then, at night, I revisit each of those points, again, and write down all the things I am grateful for. It is a great meditative, centering exercise and takes no more than ten minutes, morning and night. These practices work for me, find what works for you. What can you do to make sure you’re treating yourself with the respect you deserve? So, do it.