Recently I was going through some of my childhood things, to sort out what I wanted to keep and what I was ready to let go of. It’s quite an emotional thing to do, looking through old photos, report cards, letters, ornaments, finding my sticker books, toys I once had and adored. I even found my old diaries from my teen years – which was quite an eye-opening experience.
There was the usual teenage talk about which boy at school I was in love with, which seemed to change on an almost weekly basis! But, what left me feeling sad was the way I spoke to myself. There were pages about how much I disliked my body and wanted it to be something else. Loads on how much I didn’t want to be me. Some of this can be attributed to teenage hormones and angst I’m sure, but I also realise how this negative self-talk paved the way for so much of my teens and twenties. It seems like I was on a constant journey to lose weight, battling with my natural body shape and size. I was never happy with myself and compared myself to others frequently. Everything I did came from a place of unhappiness, thinking that if I changed who I fundamentally was, then I would be happy.
Looking back, I realise this was reflected in the way I treated myself for so much of that time. I didn’t care very much about myself and I went through periods of abusing myself to fit into who I thought I should be or to get away from the negative things I believed about myself. This included a period of bulimia in my teens to try and lose weight. In my twenties I turned to over-eating, alcohol and even a brief stint with drugs to help with numbing and escaping from the hurt I was feeling inside. I’d also over-exercise and starve myself as I battled to try and control my body shape. In addition to this I would often put myself last, compare myself to others and didn’t have much confidence or self-esteem.
Whilst it’s not the only thing, what we say to ourselves on a daily basis really does shape the way we live.
It’s in the last five years I’ve consciously changed the way I speak to myself: to be more loving; to not be so hard on myself when things don’t go as planned; to stop judging myself so harshly. Instead, I’m kinder and more compassionate and I try to talk to myself in an encouraging way.
This has been a huge part of my healing journey and has filtered out in my day-to-day and how I treat myself in terms of my self-care and the nourishment I give myself – mind, body and soul. It has meant I’ve slowly but consistently changed the way I care for myself and show up in the world. I put my wellbeing first and have even started to love myself – a huge change from my teen years!
Think about it, if you are constantly telling yourself how awful (or replace for a word of your choice) you are, you aren’t likely to treat yourself very well. Whereas if you start to show yourself more understanding and kindness, you will likely start to do this in all areas of your life.
Have you ever stopped to notice what you tell yourself on a daily basis? What thoughts run through your head when you are looking in the mirror. When you perhaps get something ‘wrong’?
Do you need to start being kinder and more compassionate to yourself? If you find it hard to talk to yourself in a positive way, think about what you would tell a best friend or someone you love in that same situation. Now start to do the same for yourself.