It started about six years ago. It was a very typical morning. I was getting ready for work. I’d woken up late, as usual. Why can’t I do anything right? I looked in the mirror to evaluate my appearance. My skin is gross. I hate these bags under my eyes. I’m so ugly. I couldn’t find my keys. Why am I so disorganized? I finally made it into the car and headed to work. And then I realized that in the hour I’d been awake, I’d basically done nothing but criticize myself all morning. And it’s any wonder that I ended up having a bad day.
I’m not sure when this started for me, but I know that for a lot of people – especially women – it’s not uncommon. We’re taught to believe we aren’t good enough, or beautiful enough, or perfect enough. And we take these lessons to heart, tearing ourselves down at every opportunity.
I remember thinking that I’d been raised to treat others like I’d want to be treated myself. And yet, I was treating myself far WORSE than I’d EVER treat another person. I’d never walk up to a friend – or even a stranger – and say “Wow. You look pretty disgusting today. And I bet you’re
never going to meet that deadline at work, since you’re so disorganized and stupid.” But I was saying it to myself almost every single day.
I decided that something had to change. A few years earlier, I’d heard about the concept of affirmations – repeating positive statements to yourself in order to make them true for yourself. To be honest, I thought the whole concept was a load of bunk. But I was done with beating myself up, so I decided to give it a go.
I ended up purchasing the audiobook 101 Power Thoughts by Louise Hay. I decided to play it in my car on my commute to and from work, every day. So for 30 minutes every morning and evening, I heard that I was beautiful. Powerful. Wise. Capable of making excellent choices. That I was bringing positive energy and people into my life. That I had everything I needed, and that I was safe.
The results were almost instantaneous. Within days, I felt more alive than I’d felt in years. Within a week, my husband asked what had changed – that I seemed so much happier and less stressed. After two weeks, my boss commented that I seemed to have an extra bounce in my step and commended the extra effort I’d been putting in at work.
ALL of these changes in my life came back to one thing. I’d decided to change the messages I was telling myself. I listened to that CD every day for 3 months, until thinking positively became a habit. When I found myself thinking “you’re so weak,” I’d immediately say instead “you are so strong.” “You’re so ugly” became “Woman, you’re beautiful!”
Did I always believe myself back then? Of course not. Did it feel silly telling myself how fabulous I was? Absolutely. But it worked. It made a difference.
And it still does. These days, six years later, talking positively to myself has become something of a routine. Yes, I still have days when it’s hard to feel good about who I am. I am still learning to trust myself, and I am a work in progress. But I also know it’s important to remind myself of what I have learned to be true: I am strong. I am uniquely me. I am beautiful. I am brave.
And so are you.
While I don’t need to listen to my power thoughts CD every day any longer, I love to surround myself with positive statements. Whether it’s word art on my walls or a handwritten note stuffed in my purse, keeping reminders of what is real and true about myself helps bring light into dark days. It pulls me up and out of bed and into the world.
One of my very favorite things to do is create art. I started as a scrapbooker, and now consider myself a scrapbooker/mixed-media artist/painter/poet. Translation? I enjoy seeing the perfectly imperfect results when I get out the paint, paper, glue, and whatever other craft supplies strike me at the moment. (And I remember to keep the judgment on the shelf.) Last night, I sat down in my craft room and created these bookmarks as a way to share just a few of the statements that have helped me stay strong.
Do yourself a favor. Go have a peek in the mirror and take a second to let yourself know how truly fabulous you really are.