“OMG I’m such an idiot.”
“Oh no! I’m the worst!”
“I’m no good when it comes to **insert task here**”
“I SUCK at **insert thing here**”
Does this kind of thing sound familiar to you? Do you say things like this? Do you have friends who say things like this? How often do you say things like this about yourself? How often do women say things like this about ourselves? My answer? TOO OFTEN.
Recently I spent time with a fabulous group of ladies. Beautiful, smart, accomplished, go-getters all of them, each with a different skill in a different arena. I found myself listening to the conversation instead of being an active participant, and that was the kind of self depreciation and self flagellation that I observed them all doing. And this was over the course of an afternoon, when the conversation shifted from topic to topic. No matter what we talked about, the words remained the same. It made me sad, brought my spirit down and made me wonder where this kind of thing comes from. Why do we tear ourselves down so often? And most of the women I was with didn’t even realize how negatively they were talking about themselves, or how many times they automatically apologized for things that weren’t even their fault. It’s become second nature.
The things we wouldn’t say about or to someone else, we say to ourselves. Ladies, we need to STOP.
Some of us do this negative self-talk thing too often, and there are layers of meaning behind it that need to be considered. Why do so many women tend to be so self depreciating (and not just when making a joke)? I think it begins with a lack of confidence in ourselves and our abilities. We’re afraid that someone else will notice our deficiency or inability in a certain area, and so we get in front of that potential criticism by being critical of ourselves.
It’s a vicious cycle, and for me, it’s a way to continue talking myself down to the point where the thing I’m saying about myself has become my truth. Am I terrible at math because I really am just terrible at it, or is it because I’ve been repeatedly telling myself (and others) that I’m terrible at it? It becomes a kind of self-fulfilling statement.
I’m trying harder to be more aware of my own negative attitude when talking about myself. I’m trying to do better when presenting myself to other people, not just for the impression I will leave behind but for my own self confidence. And not in a cheesy Stuart Smalley way.
But seriously though, everything he said is true.
I’m trying to wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror and SMILE at myself instead of saying “ugh,” or noticing my acne/grey hair/is that a new wrinkle, dios mio.
I’m trying to not make “sorry” my default word when I feel awkward or uncomfortable, and keep it for the occasions that truly require its use.
Instead of lamenting or criticizing myself for the things I’m not good at – because hey, we can’t all be good at everything – I’m trying to appreciate myself for the things I’m good at, and to celebrate the things about me that I like. On a given day that could be anything from “I made the BEST breakfast this morning,” to “I smell delicious right now!” to “I put my good foot in that blog post today.” If we don’t celebrate the small stuff, then who will? I’m trying to replace the negative with positive affirmations.
I’m also trying to pay it forward and let other women know that I see that special thing within them, too. And this is where it gets beautiful. Next time you see another woman who looks like she’s stressed out or having a bad day, smile at her. Make a bit of friendly conversation, and then if it feels right and natural in the flow of your exchange, genuinely compliment her on something. It might be her fly manicure, or her awesome earrings, or just “thanks, you’re doing a great job.” You are beautiful. It’s something small, but it can make a difference in someone else’s day.
Little acts of kindness make a big difference. Start with yourself. Be kind and gentle with yourself, and step off the self depreciating merry go round. What’s wonderful about YOU?
Tell me in the comments!
PS: I loved this post on xoJane about saying nice things about yourself – so on point!