We all know how good it feels when we get a compliment from someone. A real, unexpected and genuine compliment. It can be anything from “your hair looks pretty today,” to “great job on those accounts.” It often doesn’t matter the content. It is the fact that someone has gone out of their way to give us positive feedback, which makes us feel so good. Just one such moment, can be enough to make your entire day.
Imagine then, the opposite. Imagine how it would feel if someone approached you to tell you how fat, ugly or stupid they think you are. Imagine if day after day that person continually berated you with negative, insulting and downright hurtful comments. If they bullied you and upset you, if they stole your self worth. Would you keep this person in your life? I sincerely hope the answer to that question is no!
The scary thing is that for many of us, the bully is inescapable. She follows us around from morning to night, every day of our lives. She says the most unspeakably awful things to us. She exploits our biggest fears and weaknesses. She can access our deepest vulnerabilities. Who is the BITCH?! Well, actually, she is you! She is in the words you say when you don’t like how you look in the mirror. She is the voice you hear when you screw up at work. She is the one saying “I knew you were going to fail” when you slip up on your diet.
For the vast majority of us, we are definitely our own toughest critics. We say things to ourselves, which we would never allow others to say. And worst of all, we believe it. We do it almost without thinking. In fact, it took my husband to point out to me how often I say things like “I’m so fat,” or “I’m so stupid.” I have exclaimed these things which such regularity that they trip off my tongue unnoticed. I have started to wonder how damaging this could really be. After all, I have struggled with confidence for most of my life, could my internal dialogue be part of the problem?
In Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk she discusses how much of an impact our body language can have on ourselves. She talks about how spending just two minutes in a “power pose” can have an enormous effect on a person’s confidence and demeanour. If this is true, how much of an effect could a lifetime of negative self talk really have? How can we expect to be confident, happy people, when the person who knows us best constantly tells us we are a failure?
Imagine yourself as a little girl, or a little boy. Imagine that every time you make a negative comment about yourself, you are saying it directly to that child. Envision the pain and upset you would cause her and know that despite the fact that you are all grown up now, your words still sting just as much.
We are often told to treat others as we would like to be treated. How about treating ourselves that way too? How about putting a ban on negative self talk? Didn’t your mother tell you “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?” I know I would never dream of calling anyone else fat, lazy or stupid. Don’t I deserve the same from myself? How can I expect others to treat me better than I treat myself?
I think, for me at least, it’s time to stem the tide. I am going to make a conscious effort to gag that girl! I will endeavour to call time on all negative self talk. Those of you who know me, feel free to pull me up on it if you catch me slipping! After all, a habit 34 years in the making, won’t be easy to break xxx