How we talk to ourselves is so important. Even though it can feel silly, talking yourself up can make a huge difference. Even though I have been trying to be more aware of my self-talk and frame things more positively in my own head, it is still very difficult. It’s hard to tell if it’s even getting any easier. The main thing I struggle with is feeling like I’m just lying to myself.
For most of my life I was a pessimist, but thought of myself as a “realist.” I wasn’t being negative, I thought. These are just the cold hard facts of reality. Only in the last few years have I truly embraced the idea that there is no hard cut reality. Two people can experience the same thing and describe their experiences completely differently. Neither one of these people are delusional. Both have just viewed the situation from a different perspective. Both interpretations are equally valid. I was just choosing to focus on the negative side of most things, rather than the positive.
It is really hard to escape that pattern of thinking. Some part of me still feels foolish for trying to focus on the good in every situation. When I try to repeat self affirming mantras such as I am worthy, I deserve to be happy, I deserve love, I am enough, some inner part of me quivers with revulsion. It is quite sad to realize that it’s because I truly don’t believe those things. It has always been easier for me to say everyone deserves to be happy, than I deserve to be happy. When I imagine anyone else not believing they deserve happiness, it breaks my heart. Yet somehow when I am the one that feels that way, it seems logical and true.
I know that a lot of people have a hard time speaking kindly to themselves at first. We are so used to being our own harshest critic. I’ve heard that it takes time and persistence. I hope that’s true. I just worry about that small voice in my head that counters every attempt at trying to speak lovingly to myself with a whispered “liar!” I hope someday that voice in my head will disappear or at least not bother me as much.
I realized as I was meditating the other day, that this self-rejection is part of the reason it is so hard for me to be present and enjoy the moment. I truly feel that I don’t deserve to enjoy the moment. If I had to put it into words, my brain is telling me: “You are not good enough to relax. If you don’t keep hassling yourself constantly, you are going to keep being awful, or even become worse. You can rest when you are a better person.” No wonder I am anxious and distressed so often. My soul is restless because I am constantly resisting who I am. I am always rejecting myself.
It is truly bizarre to look at the double standard I have set for myself versus others. Sometimes it helps a little to try to imagine a friend or even a stranger telling me they feel and think these things. That makes it easier to comfort myself, because no one should have to feel they are unworthy of love and happiness. And that includes me! Are you listening, brain? We deserve love and happiness too, god damn it! Everyone does. Even though they aren’t perfect, even though they have major flaws, even though they have done terrible things. And I say “even though” instead of “even if” because we are all human and we are all imperfect. We have all done things we are ashamed of. None of that disqualifies us from a life filled with happiness and love.
So even though it makes me squirm inside, I am going to keep speaking lovingly to myself. I am hopeful that it will get easier and that one day I really will believe the kind words I’m offering.