Have you ever listened to what you say to yourself throughout the day? Most people don’t even realize there is a dialogue happening as they go about their busy life. The truth is the voice inside of your head tends to repeat and reinforce the messages you were taught growing up.
The role models we had in our life whether they be parents, family members, teachers, coaches, neighbors etc. helped shape the person we are today. The messages we tend to tell ourselves as adults come from the messages we learned from those closest to us as a child.
Maybe you were told to only get “straight A’s” or “hard work is how you get anywhere” which seems harmless unless you start to expect only perfection from yourself. This is an exhausting way to live. Your inner dialogue barrages you with messages that enforce perfection constantly. In turn, you believe you will not be happy unless things are perfect. This example of perfectionism is an endless cycle of constantly striving for the unattainable goal leaving you to feel unworthy unless you hit it! You are the only one who can change this pattern of thinking.
Some people growing up may have been given mixed messages where the words do not match the actions. They may have been told “I love you” but then emotionally, physically or sexually abused which sends the wrong messages. Some may never have had affection in their families maybe they got the message it was weak. Some folks may be from the best of childhoods and some from the worst but the messages they were given growing up have shaped who they are and how they respond to life. Those messages tend to be the same ones they tell themselves on a daily basis.
For example, if you make a mistake what is the first thing you tell yourself? It usually is so hard for us to accept this from ourselves. We tend to beat ourselves up wishing things were different rather then giving ourselves self acceptance. It is not natural to be kind to our self when we mess up. Pay attention next time this happens to see what comes up for you. When you are not accepting yourself for exactly who you are with the good, the bad and ugly you start to feel “less then” or “not good enough”. When this happens we feel we can’t measure up which demeans our value and self esteem. We usually are telling ourselves a negative message that damages our self worth rather then embracing the lessons we learn as part of our journey.
It is only by accepting ourselves fully as we are, in this moment, under these circumstances, that we can feel good about ourselves! This means your self talk needs to reflect positive encouraging messages! Yes – you need to tell yourself these positive messages regularly. Contrary to what we often believe, self acceptance doesn’t come automatically once we have met our goals, become a success or when things are different. It starts with accepting who we are right now as we are right now! Being kind and forgiving of ourselves regardless of our circumstances. Giving ourselves love and understanding. Catching negative messages and replacing them with better messages that build us up rather then tear us down.
It takes practice and commitment to change the way you treat yourself. Start with listening to what you tell yourself and ask yourself is this really true for me? Learn to become your own best friend. What are the qualities you would want in a friend? Probably, things like patience, trust, loving, loyalty, compassion, not being judged, being able to be yourself with them, good sense of humor, encouraging, positive etc. Now try to exhibit those qualities with yourself! Try being less judgmental of yourself and more accepting. Try listening to yourself and offering compassion. Try being less serious all the time and laughing at yourself. You are human. Trust you are learning valuable lessons.
You would never tell your friend “what’s wrong with you?’, “your an idiot”, “why did you do that?”, “your not smart enough”, “your so stupid”, “your are too fat, too thin, too anything” etc. You would be compassionate towards them offering support where you could. Do the same for you! You would not be bombarding your friend with all of these negative messages at one time. Why do it to yourself? Listening to yourself will give you insight into why you feel the way you do about yourself.
The gift of self acceptance is simple you feel better about yourself. You can stop doing battle with yourself. When you heal the relationship with yourself it changes everything! You become more effective in the world. You become less reactive and more resilient. Your health improves. You are capable of more meaningful relationships. You impact those around you with a ripple affect that continues a positive energy flowing into the world. You are stronger. People are attracted to those who believe in themselves. Acceptance of yourself leads you to a higher self esteem and happier life! The key is start right now being accepting of exactly who you are, as you are, in this moment.
Something to think about:
Do I treat myself with the same respect that I treat others?
Starting now I will think about what I tell myself so I can change self sabotaging messages before they take over. I am valuable exactly as I am in this moment right here right now. I am proud of myself for being aware enough to change this. Each time I do I have an opportunity to feel better about myself. I am whole, happy and complete just as I am in this moment. I have value and purpose to offer the world that only I can do being me. I love and accept myself just as I am now. I will continue to tell myself kind encouraging messages to lift my spirits as I would a good friend.
Each person has their own threshold for stress. One person may tolerate and endure so much more then another. What we all have in common is a breaking point! To understand what that looks like for you will help you decrease the chances of that happening. Nobody wants to appear like they cannot handle their life. However, if you do not take the time to understand your limits you will continually be in a vicious cycle of frustration or temporary fixes with no reward for your efforts.
My goal is to help you recognize the warning signs to gain control over stress before stress controls you. We all have a dialogue in our head that tells us the story about what is happening in our life with a particular problem or circumstance. In fact it is not the problem or circumstance that is stressing us out rather the story we tell ourselves about the problem.
My story tends to look like this, “if only this wasn’t happening I would feel better”, or “once I get through this I will be ok”, “I don’t think I can take this much longer”, “why do I always have to be the one to step up?”, “if things were only different I would be able to live my life” etc. I also tend to become short tempered, less patient, sleep in, don’t sleep, racing head, anxiety, depression, negative view, self pity, martyr, perfectionism, over-do, over achieve, stay busy, not to mention all the vices etc. All of these things just avoid the inevitable which is dealing with ourselves before the stress takes over us!
See what tends to happen is we start the dialogue in our heads that perpetuates more of the same negative self talk which then makes us more stressed out. The last thing a person wants to do when they have a problem is to stop thinking about the problem because it seems counter intuitive! The truth is if you don’t examine what you are saying to your yourself about your problems then you will continue to create the same result for the future. The very thing that you don’t want to do is just what you need to do to feel better. Let’s face it life happens to all of us with it’s blessings and struggles but if you want to feel peace in the “eye of the storm” then this is critical to your well being. You must change the messages you are saying to yourself.
Finding a new story that serves you will empower you as you are going through a tough time. Messages like “although I feel hurt/angry/sad this is temporary it will pass”, “I am exactly where I am supposed to be”, “there is a purpose for what I am experiencing”, “I may not understand this but I am open to learning”, “everything happens for a reason even when it doesn’t make sense more will be revealed”, “with every problem there is a gift”, “all problems have solutions” etc. Take care of yourself mind, body and spirit. Just as you say these gentle thoughts to yourself you can also do something physical to release the tension such as walking, biking, swimming, working out, yoga or whatever your thing is that brings your back to center. The same goes for nurturing your spirit where you do what connects you to that place of serenity whether it is prayer, going to church, a nature walk, reading, meditation, yoga, being of service to others or whatever your spiritual practice may may be. This does not mean that all the problems are gone but you are able to maintain your composure rather then hitting a breaking point. The stress may be there but you are in a different frame of mind to handle it!
We don’t have to let stress take over our lives. Stress can be both positive or negative so watch out for the warning signs. Life happens to us all. Just remember to take care of yourself especially during a stressful time. Take a time out for you to evaluate the story that you tell yourself about the problems in your life. If it doesn’t feel good then there is an opportunity to change it so you can feel better. Think about this carefully so the next time you don’t have to suffer the consequences as long from stress. Your self talk will be more soothing as you navigate difficult times.
I would love to challenge you to try this approach in your life. Leave your comments on the messages that you caught yourself saying about the problem and how you were able to turn around the stress in your life. Best of luck to you all in catching the warning signs of stress before you hit your limit. My hope is to that you have less stress and more peaceful days filled with joy and happiness.
Love, blessings and peace always,