How many times a day do you call yourself an idiot? When you drop your phone on the ground? When you make a wrong turn? How often do you tell yourself you did something stupid? Maybe when you try to pay for coffee with your driver’s license instead of your debit card? Or perhaps when you accidentally put your cashmere sweater in the dryer?
We all do it. It comes pretty naturally to most people (myself included). We grew up listening to our parents say these things to themselves, and we’ve heard our favorite characters do it on television and in movies. We joke around with our friends in Napoleon Dynamite voices, or making Dwight Shrute impressions. You probably don’t mean it when you say it. Often there isn’t even anyone around to hear it. Or maybe you don’t even actually say it out loud. That means it’s no big deal, right? It’s not real.
Cut that shit out. Now.
When you speak to yourself or about yourself in any negative way, it’s going to affect you. Even if you didn’t really mean what you said. Even if it was a joke. Even if you’re self confident and happy and have a high self-esteem and all the other things. IT BUILDS UP OVER TIME. And that’s not good. It seeps into your brain, and it’s in there whispering to you. At random times. You don’t know where that little voice is coming from, but I’m telling you now: the negative talk toward yourself causes it. You’re burying yourself in a cycle of negative whispers. Even if you only hear them every once in a while, it’s too often. They shouldn’t be in your brain at all.
About three months ago, I dropped a fork while carrying my dishes from the dining room to the kitchen sink. And I said something along the lines of, “Oh Erin, you idiot.” I bent down, picked it up, and proceeded to the sink. And then I caught myself. I realized what I had just called myself, and why. I called myself an idiot. Because I dropped a fork.
Because I dropped a fork? Dropping a fork doesn’t make me an idiot. It doesn’t make me stupid. It doesn’t even make me a klutz. It just means I dropped a fork. That’s literally all it means. Not figuratively-literally. But literally-literally. And there’s nothing wrong with dropping a fork in my own kitchen. Or anywhere, really, save perhaps whilst dining with the Queen. Which, sadly, is unlikely to happen.
And the thing is, I know I used to do this all the time. Over tiny, little, inconsequential, non-idiot things. And I didn’t mean it. I never actually thought I was an idiot because I dropped a fork, or because I mistakenly put my black athletic leggings in the drawer with my black casual leggings. The words just came out.
Making the Change
So I decided right then and there to stop it. Because with all the other negativity in this world, there is absolutely no reason for me to add to it, especially toward myself. I gave myself a goal to not only lose the negative words, but try to add in some positive ones as well.
When I met with my yoga tribe the next week, I shared my new plan with them, and challenged them to join me. Over the next several days, I had people coming up to me and thanking me. Because they had unconsciously been doing the same thing to themselves. And after they made a concerted effort to stop, they felt better. Just like I did.
So I’m going to challenge you as well. Lose the negativity. You’re awesome, you’re doing great things, and you need to treat yourself that way. Stop calling yourself a moron. Stop saying the little error you made was stupid.
It won’t always be easy. You’ll forget sometimes… I still do. Sometimes I go multiple days before I remember the deal I made with myself over a dirty fork. But every single fewer time I say something negative to myself is a win. Eventually it will be habit to only say positive things to myself instead of the other way around. And I want that for you too. The positivity will catch fire through your life and increase exponentially.
Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.