Negative self-talk erupted out of a co-worker’s mouth, causing me to cringe. “You shouldn’t talk that way about yourself,” I said.
A former co-worker lives by the mantra, “What you tell yourself really matters.” And she’s right. Our thoughts and words are powerful.
We can be our harshest critics, but at the end of the day, we still have to live with ourselves. So maybe it’s time we stop beating ourselves up and replace negative self-talk with pep talks.
The pep talk Evan Baxter gave himself in the movie “Evan Almighty” comes to mind: “I am successful, I am powerful, I am handsome, I am happy.” Saying those words to himself in the mirror was part of his daily morning routine, a reminder of his job status, his influence, his looks, and his feelings or state of being. He knew that even if he didn’t feel those things at the time he said them, saying them aloud would reiterate their truth and importance.
I also think of the movie “The Help,” in which housemaid Aibileen Clark encouraged the little girl in her care daily with, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” Aibileen would look the girl in the eyes and say those words and then have the girl repeat them back. The woman knew the significance of feeding that growing little mind with words that would translate into positive self-talk.
What about you? What do you tell yourself?
Hearing others say positive things about us can be good, but if we don’t internalize and believe those things personally, they carry little weight. We have to believe those characteristics others see in us have merit in order to take them to heart and live them as truth.
I think you are kind, smart, and important. It’s time you started telling yourself the same things.
Photo: Nicholas Doumani
Zing! Another judgmental thought whizzed through my brain. And another. And another. They just kept coming. “That shirt doesn’t go with those pants.” “He shouldn’t wear skinny jeans.” “She looks anorexic.” “That outfit isn’t work-appropriate.” The thoughts wouldn’t stop.
But something inside me did. All of a sudden, I thought, “Who am I to judge?” And I started to wonder about the thoughts and judgments people pass my way when they see me.
It’s easy to judge others by their appearance. Why is that? Do we want those same judgments cast on us? What do we want people to think or remember when they see us? By judging others, we put ourselves above them. But what makes me any better than anyone else?
It’s a dog eat dog world we live in. But maybe it’s time we turn that around. What would it take for us to stop and see the good in those around us? Yes, even if they vote differently than we do.
You can’t necessarily tell at first appearance what someone is going through. Shouldn’t we give them the benefit of the doubt?
I had the privilege of participating in a Cancer Survivors Celebration Day a few weeks ago. Some of the people I encountered were really hurting. Their pain was fresh. Yet, they were there to celebrate life, regardless.
Why can’t we do that? Instead of judging, let’s celebrate each other. Each of us has something unique to contribute. Sure, we all make mistakes, but we all have good in us too. And maybe we should spend less time casting judgments on one another and more time looking to uncover and bring out that good.
Although we’re all different, we’re all really the same: in need of love. Will you show love to someone around you today?
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"