When I was a little girl I used to keep a diary. Every year at Christmas I would get a brand new One Year Diary – a pretty little book with a lock on it and a little key. I filled up those little books year after year, from about 4th grade till high school.
I found a these old diaries a few years ago and was more shocked than amused reading them- I really didn’t think much of myself, the pages were filled with all sorts of negative self talk.
I was really jealous of my best friend Allison, and used to make a lot of cartoons. In those little cartoons, Allison was popular and pretty and well-liked. I drew myself like a big goon, all awkward, tall, lanky and ugly. It’s funny but it’s really not. I called myself Stupid, Fat, and Ugly, and had all my illustrations to prove it. Comparing myself to Allison and other girls I thought were better than me was a running theme in my diaries.
If I thought that little of myself when I was 10, 11 and 12, is it any wonder I grew up with low self esteem issues?
Sometime in my early 30s my friend Marjory lent me a book called Healing the Child Within . We did some work on this issue, and it was pretty helpful to me at the time. I learned to tune into my inner dialogue and notice how I talked to myself. I remember listening in for the first time on how I talked to myself, and most of the time it wasn’t great. The words used were often R-rated versions of Stupid, Fat, and Ugly, and a lot more descriptive.
It’s been a practice of mine for at least 10 years now to catch myself when I slip back into self name-calling and try to replace it with something kind and loving.
Today I really try to guard my mind and refuse to think badly of myself. I know that negative self talk makes me feel like crap. I try to apply the same loving kindness towards myself as I do to my family, friends, and animals.
I would never talk to my son or my mother or a friend the way that I have spoken to myself through the years, that’s for sure.
I was taught as a child in Catholic school to put myself last and today I reject that. As Sister Mary Joseph used to say (yell)– “If you want JOY in your life, put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last!” This was a grown woman who used to threaten, shame and hit us kids on the regular, and I used to believe everything she said! 😛
If you engage in negative self talk, you lose. It’s bad for you, your self-esteem, your health, and the people you love.
Today I know that having respect and kindness towards myself and making my well-being a priority is an important part of having a happy and balanced life. It is not indulgent or selfish, all due respect to those old nuns…
I hope you will pay attention to your inner dialogue and notice if you aren’t your own worst enemy, like I used to be. If you notice yourself talking smack about yourself, stop it! Instead of negative self talk, try being soothing, supportive, and kind. Be on your own side. Work with yourself, not against yourself.
Thank you for reading!
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