When we think of communication, we think of speaking to others, but one of the most important kinds of communication is the kind we have with ourselves. I’m talking about that inner voice that is often negative and tells us things like “you’re a bad writer” or “it’s all your fault that…” Fill in the blank with any bad thing that has ever happened, and there’s that inner voice. Experts agree that we tend to remember negative things more than the positive ones, so it’s really no surprise that our inner voices become riddled with negative messages.
Our inner voices often lie to use, though. They really can’t be trusted, and there is the problem. When those messages interfere with everyday life, and when those messages become damaging, that’s when we have to tell them to stop. That’s when we have to work to change the negative messages.
To replace the negative voice in my head, I wrote a list of positive messages that I repeat to myself every day. For some reason, I don’t have them memorized yet…maybe because I don’t quite believe them 100%, but they’re on my phone, taped to my wall, and laminated in my purse…little messages that I fight to keep in my head:
You are strong.
You are loved and lovable.
You are a valuable woman and human being.
You are enough.
These messages help govern how I speak and act towards myself and to others. It’s a cliché, (but clichés become clichés because they’re often true): You must first love yourself before you can love others. This one is no different. It’s true…and somehow, I managed to learn it, lose it, relearn it, and then lose it again only to find it once again.
This time feels more final, though. I think I finally believe it. I finally believe that I am worth improvement…that I am worth my own time. I finally believe it enough that I take the time to exercise and I take the time to repeat my mantras to myself. And on those days when I forget, I feel it…I feel the anxiety creep up. I feel it in the barking voice that speaks to my friends, and then I am reminded…I forgot to say my mantras. I forgot that I don’t have to fight for meaning or self-worth or to prove my self-worth to others. I am enough, and that inner voice who says otherwise can just shut up.
Every day I am provided a choice: be happy or don’t be happy. Some days I let the choice be made for me, and I let frustrations take over, and I allow them to make me unhappy. Then, I am reminded of the simple things in life: the well-written phrase, the eager student, the sun shining off the ice crystals in the snow, or my puppy’s accepting brown eyes. These help me find my happiness and to let the anger and frustrations go.
I have to focus on what makes me happy; this focus changes my inner voice. It no longer tells me I’m nothing. It tells me I am worth love and worth having a happy life. It tells me to hang on. It tells me that things will be better, and that things are not all bad. It took work to get here, and believe me, I’m not done yet, but I’m better.