(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, oh well, I’m only human. Thanks for reading!)
A little over a month ago I was listening to one of my favorite podcast called, “The Read” hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle. The episode is called, “Cheerleading” and in it, Crissle talks about her history of depression and negative self-talk. She said something that her therapist told her that made her take a serious look at how she speaks to herself. And after hearing it, it also made me take a look at how I speak to myself? Her therapist said to her, “Picture life like a race. And one person is beaten along the path. Like someone is whipping at their back. Chastising them and telling them all the ways that they suck. And they’re moving forward trying to be motivated by the negativity. And the other person has cheerleaders in the distance who are rooting for them and encouraging them to keep going. And when they fall saying, ‘That’s fine. You know we all stumble sometimes. Just get back up, dust your knees off and keep going at it.’ And you can choose how you’re going to talk to yourself through life. Are you going to beat yourself through it? Or are you going to cheerlead yourself through it?” Crissle said as soon as her therapist told her that, she began to change the way that she spoke to herself.
I know for an absolute fact that most times I am not kind to myself. My words can be harsh, rude, mean and downright disrespectful. Sometimes so that the things that I say to myself I wouldn’t dare allow anyone to say to me. So why is it ok that I say those things to myself? Ideally, I know that it’s not. But that doesn’t stop me from constantly doing it. At one point the negative self-talk was loud and often, it became the only self-language I knew. I have come a long way from the constant beating myself up. But I still have a tendency of whipping my own back instead of rooting myself on in this race called life. My problem is I’m often living the past or worried about the future. Neither of which is mentally healthy for me to do. One reason is that I can’t seem to forgive or forget my past mistakes. The second reason is that I’m not presently where I want to be in life, and I worry I’ll never get there.
My negative self-talk appears to come from my own vision of lack and comparison. Since I don’t have the things that I want, all I see is lack. Here’s how it usually goes: “I’m not currently working as a full-time writer because I lack the skills needed in order to achieve that. I’m single because I lack the beauty it takes to draw someone’s interests. I’ll never move ahead in life because I made that awful decision five years ago.” You get the idea. The comparison comes from looking at what everyone else is doing instead of looking directly at my own path. I’m watching how everyone else is performing in their race of life and that slows me down. I get slowed down because I think I should be where they are in life. Often times I forget the fact that everyone runs at their own pace. So where does the negative self-talk, my vision of lack and compassion get me? The short answer is: NOWHERE. And who the hell wants to stay there?
After hearing Crissle give the race example that her therapist gave her, it really made me want to change my internal dialogue. I want to cheer myself on the way I would cheer for others. I’m a fantastic cheerleader for everyone else. Why shouldn’t I do the same for myself? Learning to not beat myself up will surely be an everyday struggle. This isn’t something that will suddenly stop overnight. I will probably have to work hard each and every day to see the good in myself. I can do this by learning to ignore those things I don’t see as being “good enough.” For every discouraging thought that comes across my mind, I will quickly follow it up with something I love about myself. I will keep my eyes on my own journey and pace, and not worry so much about what others are doing. And not comparing my speed to theirs. Knowing that comparison only serves to injure me in my own race. Daily, I will think of a least three things I like about myself or that I’m good at. This will serve as the encouragement that I need to hit the finish line. I want to run a strong race, with all the strength that I can muster. I must learn to not be my biggest adversary. And become my biggest supporter, encourager and overall best friend. Because after all I am the one running this race, and this race I fully intend to win.