“You don’t work out enough”, “He’d never date YOU”, “I wish I was as pretty as HER”, “They probably don’t even WANT me to go to the party”…. these are all run of the mill thoughts that dance into my frontal lobe on a daily basis. But you know what? They aren’t fun, feel-good thoughts! How many negative self thoughts do YOU have in a day? Am I…. god forbid.. a NEGATIVE person??? TIME FOR AN EXPERIEMENT! Time to see just how negative I am to myself throughout a course of one day.
I decided, in the name of science, to be consciously aware of every single negative self thought that came into my mind for one day, count ’em up. And look at the result. 107!! What? Really?
I was surprised!! I mean, you would think I would be on my “best behaviour” because I knew I was testing myself! But it appeared that KNOWING I was testing myself didn’t seem to have any affect on me at all! In fact, I had some self-critical negative thoughts about having TOO MANY negative thoughts!
I caught myself routinely *shooting* myself down with a negative inner-comment. For example, at work I would make a simple mistake, one that was EASILY fixed, and I would automatically think, “stupid stupid stupid”. Whenever I was in the bathroom and I would see myself in the mirror I would think, “damn, I look tired” or “wow, not a good hair day” or “I can’t believe I wore this today, I look ridiculous”. I would walk away from a incidental conversation and think, “I can’t believe you just said that, they probably think you are such a blithering idiot”. I also became aware that on several occasions throughout the day I literally rolled my eyes at MYSELF! The frequency increased as the day wore on…. and at the end of the day when I was looking at myself in the mirror naked, I again systematically picked out and criticized every inch of my body. Parts of my body I am ALREADY self conscious about. As if I was just reminding myself to BE self-conscious.
Successful experiment? Sure! Is this a good thing to do to myself! HELL NO! I asked myself why couldn’t I gaze at myself in the mirror and point out all the POSITIVE things that I see? Its not like there aren’t any!! I know that! Why not hmmmm??? There is NO reason. But even so, this was not going to be an easy habit to break. I also knew that I would have to cut myself some slack and that I wouldn’t be hard on myself if I had a negative slip-up… because that is NEGATIVE too…. tricky!
Begin operation POSITIVE THINKING!
I ran downstairs to my wine rack. Yes: the wine rack. I needed some brainstorming juice and well it’s better with a glass of wine in hand. First step, is no judgement for drinking wine! I poured myself a glass. Then I grabbed some paper and some markers and got to work.
I decided that I needed some motivation, reminders and positive reinforcement. I cut up the pieces of paper and wrote a positive affirmation on each one. “When I believe in myself, so do others”….. “I choose love, joy and freedom, open my heart and allow wonderful things to flow into my life”…. “The more grateful I am, the more reasons I find to be grateful” … and in the words of Dr. Seuss “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You”. Strong, powerful, yet *simple* statements. Statements that I needed to start telling myself DAILY!!!
I stuck these pieces of paper on my mirror in the bathroom so that every morning as I was brushing my teeth, combing my hair, putting my makeup on, or going to the toilet, I could focus on my affirmations to myself. I put a new one in my wallet each day… so that I would see it while I was out and about. I hid a few in my desk at work for a 3pm quick pick me up. I did this every day for three weeks (because statistically three weeks is the time it takes to make or break a habit).
Then I did the experiment again. A whole day of monitoring my negative thoughts…. and NOT being hard on myself when I do have one! AND counting the POSITIVE THOUGHTS TOO! And guess what? The visual written reminders were exactly the remedy to begin turning my negative perspective about myself around! Number of negative thoughts (drum roll please…): 52! Less than half! GOOD FOR ME! I’M AWESOME! I *IMPROVED*! Number of positive thoughts: 21. YESSSSS!!!!! I’M PROUD OF ME! (pretty good huh?)
It’s a journey, but it’s an important one for me…. and any woman caught in a cycle of self-loathing.. We have friends to inspire and confidence to build. I suggest we all take this challenge! BECAUSE YOU’RE THE BEST! AND YOU CAN DO IT! YOU’RE BEAUTIFULL AND AWESOME AND SMART AND TALENTED AND DOGGONEIT PEOPLE LIKE YOU!!
(hmmm…. I think I’ve created a monster)
Edited by Jackie English
Do you catch yourself in a cycle of negative thoughts about yourself?