Tuesday, July 7, 2015

You matter

I was recently given an assignment in my fitness class. I was asked to write a love letter to myself. (Obviously this class is much more than just a fitness class!)

This was the prompt:

"Dear Self,
You are ____."

I had to think about this for a few days. It was hard to know where to start! Writing a letter to myself felt very awkward, since I had never done it before.

Once I got started, I wondered how to write it. Should it be funny? Serious? Detailed? Superficial? Deep? (Keeping in mind that I had to read this letter to other people.)

After a few drafts I figured out what felt best: honest, brief, serious.

I have been pondering some questions since doing this exercise. Why was it so hard to speak kindly to myself? Why did it feel so awkward to be positive? Wouldn't I be kind, positive and encouraging to my friends? So why can't I be those things to myself?

Why is it so easy to be negative?

Why is our default self talk so negative?

Perhaps your inner self talk is naturally positive. How great! But do a simple Google search about negative self talk and you see plenty of results. I think many of us (mainly women) have some negative chatter in our head.

I read that this negative self talk can come from our childhood. Perhaps we were told we weren't good enough by a parent, teacher, or friend. I don't recall, personally, having this done to me. So where did it come from? I think we are all "pre-set" for a certain amount of anxiety. I would consider myself to be on the higher end of the anxiety scale. That anxiety and self-criticism usually serves as motivation to move forward, to make needed changes. But many times, the critic is just there, without any specific purpose. Why does the phrase "I'm so stupid" keep popping into my head, even though I know I am not stupid? Is it based on past failures? Fear of the future? Has it been ingrained because being self-deprecating is a "relatable" characteristic? 

I guess I don't know for sure why the self-criticism is there. But since having to write that love letter, I want to make sure I reduce the criticism and boost the positivity. Here's a good article on some steps YOU can take to do the same. Thinking positive

Not only do I want to help myself, but I want to do whatever I can to help my kids. Would I ever want them to think poorly of themselves, feel stupid, unnoticed, or unlovable? Another article on the Huff Post mentioned that we, as parents, become our kids' inner voice. That statement is huge. How I talk to my kids now, becomes their own inner voice for the rest of their lives. I can influence whether it is a positive one or a harsh one, simply by choosing my words carefully. It is such an important reminder to teach/show children kindness, resilience and determination. Link is here.

What would you include in your letter? Is it easy to write? Try to silence the inner critic with positivity and see what happens. Can you change that voice over time? I'll check back with you on this in a future post!

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