One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned so far is to become very aware of the voice inside my head. I catch my thoughts (especially the not so nice ones) and think to myself, is this true? If not, where is it coming from? Most of the not so gentle thoughts come from a place deep inside of us that we’re not even aware is there. Thoughts that were implanted when we were younger, feelings we put somewhere deep down so we don’t have to experience them, situations we neatly packed away. We all do it – it’s a way to cope. But before we can TRULY change the voice inside our heads into a kinder, softer, more gentle cheerleader we have to examine where the voice is coming from.
When I was younger I was really quiet around people I didn’t know (I still am) and I was often labelled as “shy”. The words I heard were “Oh, she’s just shy.” “Why are you so shy?” “Why don’t you talk?” and honestly I understand why people said it since being quiet in a really loud world isn’t always celebrated. I’m aware now that I’m not shy, I’m introverted. I prefer to be with people I know so I don’t have to explain myself, I prefer to connect in a deep way and I like to listen. But because I grew up hearing about how quiet I was those words automatically became my thoughts. Those thoughts still show up from time to time when I meet new people (“okay I need to talk or they’ll think I’m rude”), when I step outside of my comfort zone and try something new (“no no I don’t want to do this I’m way too shy”) or when I feel insecure (“I’m so boring”). I’ve learned to stop, ask myself if the thought is true, examine where it’s coming from and then change it. Instead of “I’m so boring” I’ll think “I love who I am and those who love me do too.” The more aware I become of WHERE the voice is coming from the easier it has become to change my critic into a cheerleader.
Another way our thoughts about ourselves are formed is through experiences that we’ve had. From my teenage years until a few years ago when I found the love of my life I was in relationships that weren’t exactly healthy. I was cheated on, abused mentally and physically and just not treated the way I deserved to be treated. Until quite recently I was unaware of how these experiences shaped my inner voice. I thought I was pretty resilient and that I had successfully healed and moved on after each hurtful relationship. BUT as I began to dig deeper I realized that my thoughts about men, my worth, love and commitment were a lot different than what I had been aware of. Thoughts like “he’s going to leave if I don’t do this.” “I can’t tell him how I really feel because he’ll find someone else.” and any thought that resembled “I’m not good enough.” I think I struggle most deeply with this one. Women are “supposed” to be ALOT of things 99.9% of which are unobtainable, ridiculous and not aligned with who I want to be so it’s been a learning curve for me. I challenge my thoughts by again examining where they’re coming from, asking questions instead of assuming, connecting with myself so that I don’t rely on anyone else to make me feel good and commit to going deeper and being more vulnerable. Opening up about what I’m feeling and thinking so that I let others in has been beautifully freeing.
I genuinely believe that we can all stand to be a little kinder on the inside.
Give it a shot.
Next time you’re being less than gentle with yourself think:
- Where is this voice coming from?
- Is it mine?
- Is it true?
- If not, what is true?
What is ALWAYS true is that you are enough and that you deserve all the love and affection you can offer yourself.