We all know the saying “old habits die hard.” This is a phrase I’ve heard my whole life. The habits that always came to mind were letting my room get so dirty that it looked like a tornado swept through, or biting my nails down to the bed when I was nervous. I never thought of the way I spoke to myself to be a bad habit until I realized it was the only way I spoke to myself.
I think we’ve normalized being so negative about ourselves, and we all think it’s funny. I do it all the time. It feels like anytime I can slip “I’m the worst” or “I hate myself” into any conversation, I do — it just comes so naturally to me. I was reflecting on a conversation with a friend the other day and anytime they said anything negative about themselves, I was the first to remind them of how valued they are and that one little mistake doesn’t define their whole being. Anytime they started to say “I’m the worst,” I was practically screaming at them about how amazing they were. It hurts when I see people I value so much have so little love for themselves, and that makes me the biggest hypocrite ever.
The only thing we are guaranteed in life is ourselves, our mind and our soul — we are going to live in our head forever (which is scary) but we might as well make it a nice place to live. The simplest advice that we’ve all probably heard since we were young is to “treat others the way you’d want to be treated,” and for most of us, the problem doesn’t lie here. The problem lies in the way we treat ourselves. They should start telling us when we are young to “treat yourself the way you’d want others to treat you.” I’ve noticed that the kindest of people hate themselves an awful lot, and that thought just suffocates me.
The steps I’ve taken into minimizing my negative self-talk is to talk to myself like I’d talk to a friend. If a friend told me they were so exhausted and just needed to sleep, I wouldn’t invalidate their feelings and say they had no reason to be tired. But when I’m exhausted and just want rest, it seems the voice in my head automatically tells me that I’m lazy and there’s so much I need to do, the most common thought being that I don’t deserve rest. Would any of you ever tell a loved one they don’t deserve to rest? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Another way I’ve started combating negative self-talk is waking up and repeating positive affirmations to myself in the morning. These can be whatever works best for you and your circumstances, but my go-to positive affirmations are as follows:
“I deserve happiness.” Ah, this one stings because I have convinced myself practically my whole life that I don’t deserve the bare minimum of just being happy. We all deserve happiness, every single one of us, and when you sit and preach this statement so freely to your loved ones, don’t forget that you are someone and you deserve happiness, too.
“I release the need to judge myself negatively.” We are all our own worst critics. By saying this every morning, I have started to feel the harsh judgment slip away. Anytime I start to get so judgemental of myself I say this affirmation again and again, and those negative judgments start to fade.
“I am exactly who I need to be in this moment.” I don’t know about you, but a lot of my negative self-talk stems from me feeling like I am not enough at this moment in my life, almost like I am not following this “timeline” that I’ve set out for myself. Screw timelines — life truly is a completely different path for each person, and just because your journey looks different than someone else’s doesn’t mean yours is any less special. Saying this affirmation has reminded me that what I have at this moment is myself, and I am everything I need to be, right now.
So, negative self-talk — we’re all guilty of it, but we shouldn’t let that be the blueprint of how we treat ourselves the rest of our lives. As I mentioned above, we are given one mind and one soul, so make it a lovely place to live. As Harry Styles says, “treat people with kindness,” but don’t forget that you’re a person too, and you deserve to live a life where your mind is your biggest supporter.