From the Publisher - October 2016
“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years
and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of
yourself and see what happens.”
“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” —Louise Hay
As I washed my hands in the ladies’ room at Salem United Methodist Church, I noticed the woman beside me was glaring into the mirror. Her eyes were intent, seeing something far beyond my view, her brow was furrowed and the general grimace across her face revealed far more than the mirror ever could. After a moment, I startled her as I spoke:
“What are you thinking?” I asked, knowing the answer was not going to be good.
“My hair looks terrible. I hate what I have on, and I don’t want to be here. I would much rather be in bed and in my sweats,” she responded to me, a perfect stranger.
“That’s what I thought,” I said. “But you are here, and you look fine, so I hope you will consider enjoying the moment. Try not to be so hard on yourself,” I said as I walked out.
I have no idea the impression I left on her. However, the impression she left on me was profound. It was a visual played out before me of exactly what I do—and probably you as well—all the time: Negative self-talk.
When the chatter within our minds and the deep, silent dialogue we have between our eyes, brain and mirror is constantly negative, we carry ourselves as such. Imagine if you had another human being following you around, and more often than not, they insulted you: You are not pretty; You need to lose weight; You look so tired; You don’t fit in here; Everyone here is richer and better than you; You aren’t smart enough to pass this test; You’ll never make it; Your husband left you because you weren’t good enough; You are old; You’ll never succeed and more. These are some of the lies we tell ourselves, which makes for a heavy burden.
I have learned that self-talk is programmed and the good news is we can reprogram it and transform it from negative to positive, but it takes conscious work. Remember Aibileen from the movie The Help, who told little Mae Mobley, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Aibileen knew Mae Mobley’s tender mind was being poisonously programmed by her mother, and this was her way—the perfect way—of combatting it through reprogramming.
Reframing our thoughts is imperative to culling the negative. Here are a few examples:
I can’t do this anymore. This no longer fits in my life.
I am so fat. Fat does not define me. I can conquer it.
I look so old. I am wise. I love who I am.
I’m so dumb. I don’t know the answer but I can learn.
The bottom line is that our outlook starts and finishes between our temples. Basically, we are what we “say” we are. If you stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself, “I look great!” You do. If you tell yourself, “I look ugly.” You do. It is up to us to feed ourselves with healthy, positive self-talk. It’s what fuels our confidence and determines how we move through life, interact with people and it regulates our happiness. In other words, it’s powerful stuff, but it can be powerfully positive or powerfully negative. It can propel you to greatness or throw you into the depths of darkness. It is either our cape or our kryptonite. The good news is it’s completely up to us because we are the only ones pulling the strings behind the curtain of our fast-paced, busy brains. We are our own Oz.
As you all know, I’ve been at weights where I didn’t want to be. Look at Oprah Winfrey. She has been up and down and up and down. Don’t think she didn’t want to put on her PJs and stay in bed some days. Instead she had to show up on television for the world to see her constant battle. Here’s how I handle it: What’s done is done. I can’t do anything to change what I did to get me here. However, I can start right now and move forward in a way that gets me where I want to be. There is no point in beating yourself up for what is done.
Start with identifying the nasty stuff you tell yourself. Is it possible to look in the mirror and say something different, kinder, gentler, loving and more positive? Treat yourself as kindly as you treat others and you will be amazed in the transformation. Once you get brave, ask your loved ones for a compliment or two. It’s nice to be validated. We all need to think good thoughts, hear good thoughts and give good thoughts. They are the seeds to good living.