I was talking yesterday about loving yourself and doing the counter intuitive thing of listening to the voice in your head and then making a list of your attributes. A natural follow-on from that is what I’m going to talk about today.
I think that, sometimes, we fall out of love with ourselves because we start to believe what other people tell us about ourselves. Like the voice in our heads that we were talking about yesterday – and then we think that ‘everybody’ holds this vision of us. And if ‘everybody’ believes that – then they must be right. And we are, therefore, unlovable. We start to believe things that aren’t true about us. We allow other people’s treatment of us, the messages they send us – verbally, non-verbally, in pictures, in full-stereo – to influence us and tell us a new, untrue, story about who we are. Those messages tell us that we’re less lovable than we really are.
So I think what we need to do is have a look at ‘Everybody’ and figure out who ‘Everybody’ actually is. Often, ‘Everybody’ is the media – with their pictures and discussions of ‘perfection’ – or ‘Everybody’ is our neighbour who has a great job, a lovely car and looks down their nose at us; or ‘Everybody’ is our family. Oh yes! The very people who should be our biggest cheer-leaders are often the people who damage us most. Your panel of ‘Everybody’ can be made up of people you work with, your ex, people you met on a retreat….
You know me, and my love of journaling, and all things related, so here’s a writing exercise you might like to try.
I’m going to read out the first part of a number of sentences, and your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to finish the sentences – just write down whatever your gut dictates – don’t censor yourself – no matter how silly it may sound to your brain.
1. People judge me because… 2. Everyone loves it when I… 3. When I do well, people feel… 4. Nobody lets me… 5. Everybody tells me… 6. People just can’t accept the fact that I… 7. When I fail, everyone thinks… 8. Nobody cares when I… 9. Society keeps telling me I have to… 10. Everyone expects me to…
Now, for each of these statements please write the names of six people you know who actually, really, truly, hold those views. You can use the same names for each of the six statements, but you must use Names of individuals not ‘The Government’ or ‘all the people on my street’.
Most people can’t get to six, but whatever number you arrived at, have a look at those names. Who makes up your ‘Everybody’? Have a look at your list and marvel at how – on a daily basis – you hand over your power you don’t even like.
So we’re going to work on changing that. Because I know that when I was stuck in suicidal ideation – and I mean telling myself every day that I was worthless and useless and didn’t deserve to live and figuring out how to do away with myself – when I started to unpick that feeling, I was feeling that way because I was listening to my Everybody. So I had to stop. But I couldn’t just look into a mirror and say ten times ‘You’re wonderful, I love you’ – because I wouldn’t have believed myself. At that time, in that place, ‘You’re wonderful, I love you’ would have been the biggest lie I could have told myself.
The first thing I had to do was find a new Everybody. A Word of Warning!: Beware of people who ‘have your best interest at heart. Because they don’t. They have their own best interests at heart. They are ‘advising’ you and/or pushing you towards something that probably isn’t the best for you because it suits them. Remember that.
Echoing what we did yesterday with the list of truths, I wrote down compliments or positive feedback I’d received. Specific, real things that specific real people had said to me. I’d like you to do the same.
Once that list is written, please make copies of it and put them in several places – on your fridge, in your diary, on the wall beside your bathroom mirror, in your wallet….wherever you are likely to see them. And when you see them, read them. Read them several times a day. Remember, they are true.
For more of the tips, tricks, and tools I used to go from hating myself to loving myself, you should help yourself to a copy of my ‘Woman Love Thyself’ video.