Have you listened to how you talk to yourself lately? I mean really listened to the tapes playing in your mind. They've played for so long now that you probably don't notice anymore. When we participate in negative self-talk, we're judge, jury and prosecutor all in our minds. We would never speak to a stranger that way and definitely not a friend. And because the law corresponds to our thinking, you can be sure your judgments and criticisms will manifest as conditions in your life.
Here are some examples (you can fill in your own blanks). Have you ever thought?
"I'm always buried in bills,"
"I'm never going to get promoted,"
"I'm fat and unlucky,"
"I always come in second, never first."
These lies you tell yourself keep your childhood wounds fresh and upfront in your daily life. Today, I'm asking you to make a radical change and to start speaking to yourself in a loving manner. Your life will always present challenges and hurdles to climb, but your false stories don't create positive energy to meet those challenges in a productive way. We are our own worst enemies, and judging ourselves is a destructive habit we must break.
Here's an example from my own life. Yesterday I was working out with my trainer. I was about 10 minutes from the end of the session. Suddenly my chest began to hurt, I couldn't catch my breath and I felt like my chest was caving in. Surely I would never make it to the end of the session. My inner voice was already being critical of me whispering "Who do you think you are? A bodybuilder? An athlete? You're just a girl from Queens who couldn't throw or catch a softball in grade school. No one wanted you on their team. You're spastic. You're terrible at sports." I felt like a complete failure, and then my trainer reminded me that I could do it. He said, "B, you're just afraid of falling. Don't worry. The floor will catch you every time." His words made me laugh and helped me remove the self-criticism from my mind, and I was able to catch my breath and make it through the workout. With my trainer's motivation, the negative self-talk was neutralized.
Our negative self-talk has tremendous power over us. Catch yourself today if you hear yourself speaking unkindly to yourself. Remember these are lies that were fabricated when you were younger. Next time they appear, stop and really look at what's behind these thoughts. Is it fear? Is it hurt? Is it sorrow? Take a moment to dismantle them by seeing the emotion behind it. You see, the truth is that you are a beautiful child of the Divine with all of the qualities of God within you. You are that peace, power, beauty, love, harmony, creativity and wholeness right now.
This evening before going to bed, I invite you to do something to deflate these thoughts. Look in the mirror (yes you can do it), and say these truths about yourself:
"I am beautiful,"
"I am whole,"
"I am worthy."
Say these statements again in the morning when you wake up and repeat them during the day when you catch yourself having a negative thought about yourself. Be gentle and patient as you allow these new thoughts to take root in your mind.
Relax and feel the love of the Divine express in you, as you and through you. Know that God did not make a mistake in creating you perfect, whole, complete and glorious. Stand in your truth right now and I promise your life will change. You will have the full bounty of love, peace, power and happiness right now. But first stop judging yourself so harshly and practice loving kindness on yourself and all of humanity. Develop deep compassion for yourself and others and feel the love in your heart expand to new heights.
And, yes, during my training session, I realized that the exertion wasn't what was weighing me down. My critical self-talk was the weight that needed releasing. Once I realized that I was able to take a deep breath, dissolve it and complete the workout.
When negative self-talk appears for you, I ask you to look the lie squarely in the face and don't let these thoughts derail you. Remember,
"You are beautiful,"
"You are whole,"
"You are worthy."
Peace to all.
Dr. Barbara Gulbranson is one of the nation's leading spiritual teachers, author, spiritual coach, ordained minister and director of the Suicide Prevention Center, a program of United Health Services.