If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
In fact, I would give this piece of advice to my current 21 year-old self, and I will continue to give this piece of advice to my 30 year-old self, and my kids, and my grandchildren, and every single person I can, because it’s just that important. But, in the meantime, because I still can’t seem to actually take my own advice, I thought I’d give it to you. So please, for the love of God, stop being your own worst enemy!
Stop beating yourself up. Stop criticizing every choice you make. Stop talking yourself down. Stop discrediting your accomplishments. Stop apologizing for taking up space. Bottom line: stop the negative self-t talk.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve let that little voice in my head control how I think and feel about myself. For most of high school it determined what I would wear, how I would act, and most decisions I made. I stopped dancing in high school because I told myself I would ever be good enough. In fact, that little voice stopped me from doing a lot of things I wish I did today. And I can’t remember exactly when the voice in my head took a turn for the worst, but I know it wasn’t always like that. So I’ve tried (and failed) to pinpoint the exact moment when that voice in my head changed, because a small part of me still believes that if I can find that exact moment, then I can make it come back.
But unfortunately, that’s not how life works. Eventually you grow up and have to face the reality in front of you. And that reality isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes it’s filled with hurtful people, and flawed marriages, and grandparents' death, and watching your sister battle an eating disorder you can’t quite understand. And all these things hit you hard, and fast. One moment you are a happy kindergartener, playing in the grass and chasing bubbles with the other bright eyed five year- olds, and the next you are fifteen years- old telling yourself that if only you were smarter, or funnier, or prettier, or had bigger boobs, or had cooler clothes, or had blonder hair, then maybe, just maybe, that boy would like you.
And here you are, at 21 years- old, repeating these same nasty habits. The only difference now is that I know that that voice in my head isn’t really me. That voice in my head is my own negative self-talk, a separate entity from who I really am at the core. And I know this is true because that little voice isn’t always there. There are times when I look in the mirror and like what is looking back at me. When I don’t criticize my height, or my weight, or my skin. When I don’t wish I was 15 pounds lighter, or 5 inches shorter or just a little bit prettier. When I love that I am shy, and quiet and am the type of person who would rather listen to other’s talk than be at the center of attention. And it’s because of these very few, very fleeting, but very real moments of actual, genuine satisfaction and love for everything that makes me, me, that I know that I am stronger than my own negative self-talk. And THIS is exactly why self-talk is so powerful.
The way in which you talk to yourself and treat your body is the way in which you will allow those around you to talk to you and treat you. If you tell yourself that you are incapable of accomplishing your dreams, and undeserving of love, and powerless against your own imperfections, then you are allowing those around you to see you in that same light. You are giving your own negative thoughts the power to control the relationship with yourself. And that relationship you create with yourself, fueled by your own self-talk, is the most important relationship you will ever have in your entire life.
So, it is important, if not crucial, to transform these negative, polarizing thoughts into opportunities for growth and moments of appreciation for your own progress. Start to treat yourself how you would treat your loved ones, giving yourself the same consideration you would give them. Start to focus on what is true. Whether it be through journaling, positive affirmations, or simply just eliminating phrases like “I can’t” from your vocabulary, you will start to rewire your brain into believing and acting in line with your positive self-talk.
Bottom line is: you have the power to be your own worst enemy and also the power to be your own biggest supporter. So, choose to change the way you talk to yourself. Choose to look at yourself in the mirror and appreciate the strong, beautiful body that has gotten you through so many years of life. Choose to embrace exactly who you are in this moment, flaws and all. Choose to give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Choose to push yourself closer to your hopes and dreams. Choose to tell yourself that you are capable, and powerful and deserving of every opportunity and experience that comes your way, because you sure as hell are. So start believing it.