by Marissa A. Ross
I spent about ten years of my life living in a dark, cavernous cave I created in my mind. This cave constantly echoed all my greatest fears and anxieties. It resonated these absolutely insane thoughts I had developed about myself– I was never good enough or cute enough or talented enough. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I came to think these things about myself or why I believed that they were true, but I did. The lack of self-esteem and the incredible amount of stress I put on myself affected not only my goals, but also my health. I was the queen of my own Playa Hater’s Ball.
Any of this sound familiar?
Well, I’m here to say, STOP IT.
You need to stop it, stop it right now!
No ifs, ands, or buts, you just need to stop!
If you’re still stuck in your cave, then this may seem like an impossible task. Newsflash: it is entirely possible. The world is full of people who are going to try to hold you back, don’t let yourself be one of them. A simple way to thrive in this world is to learn to be your own best friend. It’s going to take some work and some patience, but the outcome will be a peace of mind you never thought possible.
So, if you’re ready to turn your cave into a limitless sky of possibilities, let’s get started.
Note: Do not come to me next week crying about how you’re still in a cave. This is like a gym routine, people. You do not lose fifteen pounds by going on the Elliptical for twenty minutes, twice a week. Be prepared to do serious, conscious work and you will see serious results.
- Become aware of your negativity and your choice to participate in it.
Some of you may know you’re negative, others of you may not even notice it. Here’s the best indicator in the world: ask yourself, “Would I let someone say this to my best friend?” In my case, my sister is my best friend. And if anyone in the universe tried to tell her she couldn’t do something, or that she was ugly, or anything other than that she was a beautiful spirit inside & out, I’d probably find something within grabbing distance and stab them.
I’m sure you feel the same way about your best friend. You’d never let anyone tell them they were fat or dumb, so why do you tell YOURSELF that?! When put in this context, most of the negative thoughts our brains have become shocking. It’s embarrassing how badly we treat ourselves some times, and for really no good reason. Nothing positive comes out of these sorts of thoughts– it doesn’t motivate you to be better or to try harder. It usually just creates more negativity.
Realize that you are choosing to participate in these thoughts. You have a choice to not think them, even if it doesn’t seem like it. The cave is dark and scary, and sometimes to think you’ve chosen to be there seems preposterous. It’s not. It’s true. Once you make the realization that you can choose to have a better perspective, the quicker you will have one.
- Recognize the difference between your ego and reality.
Look, your ego is a crazy and fragile thing. Sometimes it makes you feel like you’re on top of the world, but it is also what makes you your biggest hater. Your ego uses fear to keep you tied to it, and those racing thoughts your ego produces are not real. They are usually based on future fears that will never happen, and you basically just have to stop paying attention to them. Seriously, just ignore them. Much like step one, the more attention you choose to give these thoughts, the more power you are granting them. Just tell them to STFU.
- Break the patterns.
Once you have become aware of negative thoughts, they’re pretty easy to detect and you’ll probably be surprised at how often you think them. These patterns can be as simple as constantly saying “I can’t”, or “I don’t know”, or “I guess”. They can be as complex as telling yourself you won’t leave your house if you don’t fit into a certain pair of jeans. The point is, as soon as you recognize you’re hating on yourself (IE: saying things to yourself you wouldn’t dare say to your BFF), you can break the patterns.
An easy way to break the pattern is when you start to think something negative about yourself, turn it around and make it a positive. When you think you can’t do something, turn around and say, “I can do this.” Sure, maybe you try and fail, but telling yourself you can and putting yourself out there will help build confidence and vanquish your fear of failure.
If your negative thoughts are tied to certain actions, replace the action with a healthy alternative. For example, I’m a stress eater. But instead of eating an entire box of frozen burritos because I’m stressed and then basically putting myself into a whole other self-induced anxiety attack for eating said box of burritos, I eat a bowl of cherries. Replacing the totally unhealthy frozen snacks with something delicious and good for me, I save myself the anguish of punishing and bullying myself (which I normally would) for eating ten Tina’s burritos.
(For those of you who have never had to buy Tina’s burritos, yeah, they’re $1 in your freezer section. Great for broke college years, terrible for your health.)
….To Be Continued…Read Part 2 on Friday, May 1st.
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.