Take a moment and think about the words you’ve had running through your head the last few hours. How many of those words are encouraging? How many are mean? How many times have you sworn at yourself? Just me? Okay, fair enough.
The words we allow to live in our head, that internal playlist of comments that tends to surface when things get challenging, are what determine our emotional mindset for the day. If you’ve spent the morning berating yourself for dumb little things, chances are those words might spill out if anyone tests your patience. Even if you do manage to keep them inside, they will wear you down.
Whoever said “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me,” was an idiot. Words are far more powerful than people realize. You can carry words with you as they run through your head in an endless loop. Words can haunt. Harsh and unkind words tend to stick around far longer than a bruise. If you are tempted to use words that will hurt, either at yourself, or others – know that they will not be soon forgotten. Fill your mind with words that empower, strengthen, and comfort. Make it a point to do the same for those around you.
Make words work for you
It’s time to change the dialogue in your brain. Should you be someone who tends to criticize themselves a lot, this might feel really weird and hard at first. Start by coming up with three or four nice things you can say instead. Here are a few of mine:
- I can do hard things.
- This is a learning experience.
- I’m working to find ways to do this better.
- This is a challenge which has a solution.
When something goes wrong and you are about to say something not-so-nice to yourself, like how stupid you are, or how bad you are at something, stop yourself and say one of these other phrases instead. The more you do it, the more saying the positive phrase comes naturally. Even better, the more you use the positive phrase, the more you start to believe it.
When I made a point to change my inner narrative
Back in my early mommyhood, I’d let my inner narrative plummet down into the dark side – and there were no cookies. There were a lot of contributing factors, lack of sleep, lack of self care, and eating a not-so-great diet, to name a few. I didn’t feel good, I was cranky, and it was so easy to let the brain spiders win.
The turning point came when someone, probably thinking they were being helpful, pointed out just how miserable things must be for me. Yeah. It was the wake up call that I never wanted, but desperately needed. I decided it was time to turn things around and picked up a few books. The first and most accessible idea was that of working on the inner narrative.
At first, I did the practice somewhat grudgingly in almost a sarcastic way because I was still a bit miffed at being called out. But, as the weeks passed, I found that my attitudes were slowly shifting and I was finding more and more positive things in my life to bring me joy. Don’t get me wrong, I still beat myself at times, but I know I’ve come a very long way from my lowest point.