If you were asked to list 5 things about yourself you liked or were good at, how easy would you find it? Could you make it to 5? How confident would you be in saying those things out loud?
If you were asked to list 5 things about yourself you didn’t like would this be easier? Does it feel more comfortable putting yourself down? Could you stop at 5 or would you want to get everything out there? If someone pays you a compliment can you accept it and say thank you? Or Do you feel the need to shrug it off and explain that your hair isn’t nice or say that you aren’t really intelligent, or kind, or considerate?
Many of us engage in negative self-talk daily. We get up in the morning and tell ourselves we look tired, we spend ages getting ready for a night out then tell ourselves ‘that will have to do’. We stop ourselves talking in groups of people for fear of sounding stupid and we deny ourselves opportunities because we worry that we aren’t good enough or we will mess it up
Is it any wonder that we constantly put ourselves down? All day every day we are constantly told we should be ‘living our best life’ and striving for improvement. Filters on social media mean that we are no longer happy to have a picture of ourselves natural, enjoying life and not forced. We need the right angle, the right filter, the right lighting and our teeth should be whiter than white. We can flip our pictures, smooth over any blemishes and distort/erase any parts of ourselves we don’t like. Rather than being snap shots of moments in time, pictures are now opportunities to demonstrate how popular, thin, attractive, etc we are. The value of that picture is measured in what others think of it.
If you had a person in your life who said you looked old, ugly, dull, out of shape, boring etc every time you had a picture taken, you wouldn’t keep them in your life very long. Why do we not notice how damaging it is to tell ourselves these things so often?
Why does it matter if we think badly of ourselves? We aren’t hurting anyone else; it doesn’t affect those around us. The reality is the more we tell ourselves negative things the more we think they are true. We believe ourselves when we say we sound stupid when we speak, that we need to lose a few pounds, that we shouldn’t ask someone out because they out of our league. Not only does it limit our potential, but we start to accept less or poor treatment from others.
How many of you have been in a friendship or relationship where the other person didn’t treat you well or left you wondering how much you meant to them? Maybe they left your messages unread, didn’t invite you to events or put you down in front of other people. How many of you have excused this behaviour as being a fault of yours? They didn’t invite you because you’re too loud, they aren’t putting you down you are being sensitive, it’s ok they are ghosting you, you know you are boring. The truth is, if you don’t think someone is treating you well, they aren’t.
Over time it’s very easy to start believing poor treatment is all you are worth. You could end up compromising yourself just to please and satisfy that other person. You might lend them money you don’t have, put yourself in an uncomfortable situation, let them touch you when you really don’t want them too…. The fear being that if you don’t you would be on your own.
So how do you dial down that voice inside that pipes up when you look in a mirror, or when a mate tags you in a picture online? Start by developing positive self-talk. Every time you think something negative about yourself, find something positive about yourself to counter it. It’s ok that you think your hair looks greasy as you have an infectious smile, you might talk loudly but you know people enjoy hearing what you have to say. You think you should lose some weight but you care about your friends and you are always there for them. It might feel strange at first but over time you will start to notice the things you like about yourself and mean it when you tell yourself them.
Think about who you follow online. Do the people you see on your social media lift you up? Inspire you? Encourage you to believe that it’s ok to be you? If there are people in your life who give you that FOMO feeling online, click the hide button! They will never know you did that!
Finally, when someone pays you a compliment, look them in the eye and say thank you. They are giving you their opinion and they want you to feel good. Allow yourself to see you how they do!
Nobody will know you as well as you know yourself. You should be your biggest fan!