This post is about me, but it’s also about all of us. I mentioned on Twitter a little while ago that I’d had an epiphany. Today, I’m going to share it with you.
In the course of my recovery, my therapist and I have talked about a lot of things, and one that particularly resonated with me is the subject of self-talk. It’s something we do both consciously and unconsciously. It’s the things we say to ourselves but also how we react inwardly about things we do (or sometimes don’t do).
My self-talk is generally negative. Sometimes it borders on self-abusive even. Through it all is the theme of not being enough. Not tall enough. Not smart enough. Not worthy. Because of this, I’m constantly surprised when people around me express what I mean to them and it’s positing. I’m amazed sometimes that you guys want me around even. Most of my life, I haven’t even noticed I do this to myself. This made it harder to fight or even see what I was doing to myself.
But then I was reading a post about getting back into writing by my friend, Julie Hutchings. She talked about writing 200 words and how you’d never tell a friend essentially “that’s all?” so why do that to yourself? This is so true for me. I tell writer friends all the time that however much they wrote, that’s more words than they had which is automatically a win. I’m learning to do this for myself, to savor just getting some writing done. So far, that’s going surprisingly well.
But as I read Julie’s post, something clicked, something bigger. This is a broader thing. So often I’ve dismissed my own accomplishments as not enough, who I am as not good enough. I’ve constantly demanded more, no matter what I’ve done, how much or how well. It’s like somewhere in my head, I believe there’s some level of perfection I can achieve, even though I know perfect is a concept with no basis in reality. It is impossible. And yet I keep thinking I should do more, that I’m not enough.
In doing so, I’ve missed all the things that I am. All the things that I’ve done. I’ve sucked the joy out of my own life by refusing to appreciate myself. And I’ve decimated my self esteem, not to mention letting others trample it into oblivion, in the process. That self-talk I mentioned? These are things I would never be cruel enough to say to others, all heaped on myself. A small mistake turns into me being stupid, useless and a bad person. Because I forgot where I set my glass of water down, for example. It’s that insane for me.
From talking to others, I am certain I’m not alone in this. So many of the people I know engage in this to some extent. Raise your hand if you’ve ever engaged in this behavior, even a little. Oh my, that’s a lot of hands.
I say that stops here and now. I am at last going to work on giving myself credit for the things I’ve done and who I am. It was a long journey, at times difficult, but I’m here and on my feet. I invite you to come with me. Do it every day. Give yourself credit.
And they don’t have to be big things. Got all your items on your to-do list for today done? Celebrate that. Got the kids fed on a difficult day where you’re not feeling great or things are going wrong around you? Give yourself a pat on the back. Acknowledge the victories, even more so on hard days than easy ones.
Above all, pay attention to how you talk to yourself, the internal monologue that goes on. As I said, I hadn’t really noticed how awful mine had gotten. When I finally really listened to it, I was horrified. But now that I’m aware of it, I’m working to change it. To be less judgmental of myself, and to keep perspective. Would you believe it’s working, and better than I could have believed when I started?
We are all enough, whatever that might mean to you. But we need to acknowledge that to ourselves. To accept that we can be enough, which is a hard one for me but worth working on. This isn’t to say you can’t look at yourself with a critical eye. Doing so is part of growing. But please, let your self-criticism be constructive. “I suck” or “I’m stupid”, which are frequent parts of my own self-talk, are not constructive. I wouldn’t say that to someone else, so why am I saying it to myself?
I still want to improve, to strive to better myself. But while I’m doing that, I’ll also celebrate myself and my accomplishments. Balance the two, you know? Don’t let the want for more take away from you the enjoyment of who you are. Don’t forget to look at yourself and remember how impressive you are. Give yourself credit for your own awesomeness. Because you are, and the sooner you acknowledge it, the happier you’ll be. And I want that. I want you guys to be happy. I want you to be free from the monumental self-judgement that’s so common these days. You all deserve it.
Just think about it, guys. Listen to your self-talk and see if maybe there’s some tweaking to be done. Some celebrating to be added. And always remember, you are more awesome than you realize.