Have you ever had a friend speak to you like this:
You are SO pathetic!!!
How can you even stand to hear yourself speak?!
Ugh. You are the most boring person I know. Can’t you talk about anything interesting?
You’re so stupid.
Of course no one loves you, you’re miserable.
No one would ever want to be with you, you have no value.
You’re so fat, look at your thighs.
You’re too boney, it’s gross.
Of course you don’t have a friend like that. No one in her right mind would tolerate it… from a friend. And yet somehow, this is exactly how many women speak to themselves. It’s as though they have a mean bully taking up residence right inside their own head, berating them at every turn. Each poor choice leads to a barrage of insults. Every mistake unleashes a torrent of verbal abuse. Moments of doubt and insecurity lead to heaps of nasty messages. You press play on the reel in your head that tells you you’re worthless, unlovable, and pathetic.
Talk about kicking a gal when she’s down!
The good news and the bad news is that you’re not alone. The good news is that many women do this and successfully conquer those nasty voices, replacing them with scripts that guide and nurture. The bad news, or sad news, is that leagues of women and girls live with these horrible thoughts about themselves Every Single Day.
We can plough through the multitude of reasons why: society puts unrealistic pressures on us; the media screams at us to be thinner and stronger; pinterest expects us to be a hybrid Martha Stewart-Kate Hudson with all the sweetness of Jennifer Garner; the beauty standard is a fabrication of photoshop. Blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda. Sure it would be nice if movies and magazines honored our strengths and didn’t have a double standard for beauty and salaries. We can voice our concerns and boycott products that perpetuate these images. But really, at the end of the day, the solution lies within us. We can’t wait for society to turn around in order to turn around the voices in our own heads.
So how do we fix this? How do we clean up that nasty, nasty voice and get rid of it? This is where Marie Kondo comes in. If you haven’t read her book the life changing magic of tidying up, I suggest you check it out. Decluttering and organizing our space can go a long way towards decluttering and organizing our thoughts. It’s tough to be focused and calm in the midst of chaos (believe me, I live it first hand). One of Marie’s rules for deciding what to keep and what to pitch is “Does this spark joy?”. The rules for what to keep and what to toss in terms of our internal scripts needs to pass through these three filters:
Question No. One: Does this make me feel good?
“Good” may mean joyful, but it may also mean content, calm, loved, peaceful, soothed, secure – any positive emotion or even neutral emotion. If your self-talk makes you feel good, you can keep it. If it doesn’t make you feel good, it’s on to Question No. Two…
Question No. Two: Does this help me move forward?
Sometimes it’s appropriate to give ourselves a stern talking to. Not harsh, accountable. Sometimes we are lazy. Sometimes we do overindulge in treats or time away from routines that make us feel good. Let’s be honest, were not always the best version of ourselves. Eventually these types of behaviors can lead to a rut or a feeling of being stuck. Then it’s time to wipe the slate clean of excuses and get some traction in moving towards goals. Telling myself, “Jennie, you’re so damn lazy!” will lead to feelings of low self-worth, and potentially ignite nasty scripts. Telling myself, “OK, there’s been LOTS of relaxation and procrastination, time to sit down and make a plan and stick to it”. Self-discipline actually leads to increased esteem and a feeling of accomplishment. Action is the not-so-secret key to moving forward. If your self-talk helps you move forward, you can keep it.
Question No. Three: Would I say this to a friend?
Or your child? Or your partner? If you gasp and answer “Never!” then you know it’s below the belt and not acceptable to say to yourself. The problem with mean self-talk is that it doesn’t move you forward or make you feel good. It ignites self-loathing and pity parties – both of which will keep you stuck. Nasty messages are akin to putting concrete blocks on your feet and sinking. Chipping away at the messages loosens those concrete blocks and allows you to float to the surface. By undoing the nasty scripts in your mind, you’ll be free to float. It won’t immediately result in medalist swan dives or award winning synchro routines. But it will allow you to tread for a little bit, fill your lungs deeply with air, and formulate a plan. Eventually you will begin to dog paddle, and later cut through the water with long, smooth strokes.
Give yourself the gift of decluttering your mind of the messages you no longer need. You’ve outgrown them and you’re ready to move on, kinder, gentler, accountable.